On November 12, 2002, the military and police rounded up more than 2,000 people in Saravena and took them to the sports arena in the first mass arrest in the state of
Bernardo Arguello was the first victim to testify. He described being taken from his home and brought to the arena on that morning of November 12. “We were tied together and forced to walk past a car with polarized windows.” Two paid informants inside that car pointed out the people to be arrested. Bernardo was imprisoned for 15 months for “rebellion.” It appears that his real crime was being a leader of the Saravena Community Water Company – a very inspiring company that is owned and managed by the people of Saravena. Bernardo returned to Saravena after his release from prison and, less than a month later, he was arrested again – this time for “terrorism” and he spent another 26 months in prison. “I will continue working for our communities as I have always done,” said Bernardo, “but I fear for my safety, and I hold the government responsible for what could happen to me and my family.”
Sandra was the second victim to testify. She described the murder of her husband by the military during the
Alonso Campiño read the report of the Arauca Social Organizations. The military and police came to his home early in the morning of August 21, 2003 during the second mass arrest in Saravena. Alonso’s three-week-old son, Marlon, was grabbed from his father’s arms. His twelve-year-old son, Camilo, was forced to the ground and a soldier put a boot on his back. Alonso was arrested for “rebellion” and spent three years in prison and house arrest. It appears that his offense was being a teacher, vice president of the
Our friends in Saravena worked really hard in preparation for the Senate hearing, and they were very glad that the arena was filled and people had the courage to denounce the abuses they had suffered. Two hundred people filed complaints, either publicly or in private, during the course of the hearing.
The organization of the public hearing was generously supported by the Lutheran World Federation which is working with four excellent social organizations in
In love and solidarity,