Colombia. Mario and Elsa: Human Rights Defenders That’s the Killer State

Latin American Summary, May 20, 2023.

On this day in 1997, human rights defenders and environmentalists Mario Calderón and Elsa Alvarado were murdered in Bogotá. As stated by former paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso, the crime, which continues with impunity, involves the paramilitary, the army, the prosecutor’s office and the DAS.

Elsa Alvarado

Elsa Alvarado was born on December 4, 1961 in Bogotá. After studying Social Communication at the University of Externado de Colombia, he specialized in Educational Technology at the University of Javeriana.

After joining the Center for Popular Research and Education (CINEP) as press officer, Elsa investigates the democratization of communication in Colombia and the power of the media. He was also in charge of popular communication projects in Bogotá and taught the chair of human rights at the University of Externado de Colombia.

Pastor Javier Giraldo recalls that he wrote in-depth articles on the way ideology was manipulated in Colombia during elections. He is remembered as a happy-go-lucky, creative person who was highly committed to social causes and human rights.

In the last months of his life he worked with the Ministry of Communications on relations between the audience and the media.

Mario Calderon

Mario Calderón was born on October 13, 1946 in Manizales. Committed to liberation theology, Mario Calderón studied a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Javeriana. After living 10 years in Europe, he obtained his doctorate in sociology at the School of Higher Studies in Paris.

After graduating, he entered the Society of Jesus, where he worked on social projects, organizing residents in neighborhoods of the capital that were threatened with eviction.

In 1987, he coordinated the Program for Peace in Magdalena Medio, Alto Sinu and San Jorge, areas with a strong paramilitary presence. In Tierralta, Córdoba, in addition to leading the program, he worked with the farmers of the area, encouraging popular organization.

In 1989, Jesuit Sergio Restrepo Jaramillo, Calderón’s friend and colleague, was murdered in Tierralta, who had to leave the area after narrowly escaping death. After this he renounced the priestly vows.

Committed to environmental struggles, he worked closely with ecologists and farmers in the Sumapaz region. There he founded the Suma-Paz Natural Reserve Association, which carried out projects to protect the paramo, reclaim the memory of the region, and conduct workshops with the communities of the region.

His friends remember him as a sensitive person, and he has a great sense of humor. He worked for nearly 20 years to promote human rights and peace.

Elsa Alvarado and Mario Calderón had an 18-month-old baby boy who was rescued after being hidden by his grandmother.

Elsa and Mario’s Crime

On May 19, 1997, a group of heavily armed men broke into the building where the couple lived in the Chapinero neighborhood of Bogotá. Posing as an agent of the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI), he silenced the concierge and moved into the apartment where the human rights defender lived.

After breaking down the door, the group of paramilitaries find Mario, Elsa and her parents in the apartment who had come to visit them. He was shot while kneeling.

Elsa’s seventy-year-old mother managed to survive, despite serious injuries. He even managed to save the couple’s 18-month-old son, Evan. Grandma hid him in a closet.

After the crime, the country lost a couple committed to peace, investigation, struggle for popular territories and protecting the environment. Ivan (Mario and Elsa’s son) was not only orphaned, he had to flee into exile.

those responsible for the crime

Salvatore Mancuso confirmed that troubadours were persecuted by human rights organizations, as their complaints alerted international organizations. These complaints revealed crimes committed between the paramilitary forces, the prosecutor’s office, the army, the DAS, and other state entities in order to benefit politicians, cattle ranchers and multinational companies.

According to Mancuso, it was clear that they used these state institutions to persecute human rights defenders, such as telephone interceptions carried out by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS) or the nation’s attorney general’s office, which the institutions provide. Providing intelligence to paramilitary forces to enable them to commit crimes. As such, the state sought to silence CINEP, an organization investigating relations between paramilitary forces and state entities.

Former paramilitary chiefs HH and Mancuso agree to confirm that the crimes of Elsa and Mario were ordered by Carlos Castaño, who delegated the task to the La Terraza gang, and that members of the public force were directly and indirectly involved in these murders. actively participated.

Jaime Garzon (1999), Eduardo Umaña (1998), Jesús María Valle (1998), Ana Maria Fonnegra

The crime of Elsa Alvarado and Mario Mendoza matches the modus operandi of the murders of social leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, as well as others such as Eduardo Umana Mendoza, Jesús María Valle, María Arango Fonegra and Jaime Garzón. Likewise, this massacre in Colombia has a high dose of impunity, as the Colombian state, elites and businessmen are involved, responsible for creating and organizing these squads as a counterinsurgency strategy.

Source: Columbia Reports

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button