Brussels, 22 May 2018
The International Office for Human Rights – Acción Colombia (OIDHACO) and the signatory organizations wish to express their deep concern to the European Union, its Member States, Switzerland, and Norway about the situation of the population affected by the Hidroituango project in Colombia and the Ríos Vivos Antioquia Movement (MRVA), made up of 15 associations of victims of the conflict, of people affected by mega-projects, of women and young people in the area.
According to the Plan for the Prevention and Protection of the Rios Vivos Antioquia Movement (MRVA), which was prepared by the Movement with the support of the Ministry of the Interior, from 2013 to 1 March 2018, MRVA suffered 151 security incidents, including two murders of its members.
In addition, during these years, the population of the area of influence of Hidroituango has suffered 10 forced evictions that have meant the loss of their livelihoods, linked to the work of barricading (artisanal gold mining) and fishing on the banks of the Cauca River, of more than 500 families in the area.
Faced with this damage to the population, the compensation offered to them by Public Companies of Medellín, which is responsible for the project, is insufficient. This only aims to compensate part of the barricade activity but does not take into account that the population of the area also works as a fisherman, muleteers or day laborers and that, like a barricade, it will no longer be possible for them to do so when the area is flooded.
In November 2017, representatives of the European Union Delegation in Bogotá and the French and Spanish embassies in Colombia visited the area and learned first-hand about the situation. On 20 April, 25 members of the European Parliament expressed their concern in a letter to the Colombian authorities about the possible impacts of the Hidroituango hydroelectric project.
The main of these impacts would be the impossibility of getting the bodies of victims of the armed conflict and forced disappearance that could be found buried in the area, that would be submerged after the filling of the Hidroituango reservoir. According to the National Historical Memory Commission, in the 12 municipalities affected by the Hidroituango project, there would be 1,029 victims of enforced disappearance. The right to the truth of the victims of the armed conflict, and relatives of these forced disappeared persons, should be protected by the Colombian authorities and international actors who have committed themselves to the peace process in Colombia.
In the last few days, there have also been four murders in this area, which continues to be affected by the problems in the construction of Hidroituango and whose communities need an urgent protection response from the authorities.
Because of this, the signatory organizations call on the European Union, its Member States, Switzerland, and Norway to mobilize themselves to:
- Urging the Colombian authorities to protect the MRVA, by promptly implementing their Prevention and Protection Plan, and urgently protecting the communities in the area affected by Hidroituango from the risks linked to the construction of the dam and the presence of armed actors, placing their security and their lives at risk.
- Asking the Colombian authorities to initiate a rapid and transparent investigation into the killings of Hugo Albeiro George Pérez, Domar Egidio Zapata George, Luis Alberto Torres Montoya, and Duvian Andrés Correa Sanchez and to prosecute the material and intellectual authors of this crime.
- Informing European companies that have an economic relationship with the Hidroituango project about the situation so that they can take appropriate measures.
- Promoting the right to truth for the victims of the conflict in the area where the Hidroituango project is located so that it can be definitively known whether more bodies are buried in the area and, if this is the case, that the victims’ rights are prioritized over the flooding of the area, to comply with the objectives established in the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP and guarantees of non-repetition.
For further information, contact Miguel Choza Fernández, Oidhaco Coordinator at oidhaco [at] oidhaco.org (, )or tel.+32 2 5361913.