Charity Ryerson, Program Coordinator, U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP)
In a Dec 15th article in the Colombian weekly El Espectador, a writer with close ties to Colombia’s infamous 17th Brigade accused several human rights groups of being “secret weapons of the FARC.” These groups included Justicia y Paz, a well known ecumenical human rights organization, the Collectivo de Abogados, and Peace Brigades International.
After leveling this accusation, the author, Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, went on to rewrite the well-known case in which three trade unionists were dragged out in to the street, stripped down to their underwear, and shot by the Colombian armed forces in the state of Arauca in 2004. In Apuleyo’s version, the trade unionists were actually members of the ELN guerrilla group, and were killed in a daring early morning raid, scheduled to avoid perception by the guerrilla-infiltrated community. The recent sentences given to the perpetrators of these crimes (40 years for each soldier) were painted as an injustice, orchestrated by several of FARC’s “secret weapons.”