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Letter from the Members of the European Parliament to the Colombian Government. HidroItuango April 2018

Letter from the Members of the European Parliament to the Colombian Government regarding HidroItuango and Rios Vivos.


European Parliament, Strasbourg, April 20, 2018


Mr. Juan Manuel Santos

President of Colombia


Mr. Fernando Carrillo

Inspector General of Colombia


Mr. Néstor Humberto Martínez

Attorney General of Colombia


Mr. Luis Pérez

Governor of Antioquia


Mr. Jorge Londoño

General Manager of Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM)



- Ms. Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Union

- Yves Daccord, General Director of the International Red Cross



Dear Madam,

Dear Sir,



As Members of the European Parliament, we are following the current situation in Colombia with regard to the construction of the hydroelectric project Hidroituango (department Antioquia), and its impacts on local communities organized within the social movement Rios Vivos Antioquia. The departmental government of Antioquia has a majority share in this project, which is executed by the state enterprise Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM), and financed by several European banks (KfVV IPEX, BNP Paribas, BBVA and Banco Santander) and other international financial institutions and investors (IDB Invest, CDPQ, ICBC, Sumitomo Mitsui).


Since 2012, there have been numerous reports of human rights violations against peasant communities and victims of the armed conflict affected by this project. These violations have occurred in the context of the construction works at the hydroelectric plant, and in the context of the social protests as a consequence of diverse human rights impacts: forced displacement; the absence of fair compensation, relocation and access to land; and impacts on health and the environment.


An issue of special importance is the risk of violations of the rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition. The Hidroituango project is located in an area with presence of mass graves, as well as individual graves of victims of the armed conflict which were buried by community members along the Cauca river. We are aware of the efforts made by the Office of the Attorney general of Colombia to retrieve these bodies. As a result of the insistence by the Rios Vivos movement, the Office has so far completed the exhumation of 159 bodies in the direct area of influence of the project. Nevertheless, according to testimonies by local communities and official numbers, it is highly probable that there are many more bodies left to be found in the project area.


We express our specific concern about the fact that the expected date for the filling of the reservoir of the Hidroituango project, July 1, 2018, is approaching. This would mean that hundreds of family members of victims of forced disappearance in Colombia will never have the opportunity to find their loved ones. We have witnessed the testimonies by artisanal miners, fishermen and farmers, from different sources such as videos and reports. Their means of life depend from the Cauca river and they have not been compensated or indemnified for the loss of their livelihoods. Many of them are very worried because their subsistence depends on the Cauca Canyon. They demand respect for their rights to work, to decent housing, to land, to health and to freedom of expression and association, among other rights. They denounce how they have been threatened, criminalized and persecuted.


We were informed that communities represented by Rios Vivos Antioquia have suffered 151 attacks. We are also aware that with the support of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the movement was able to design a collective Prevention and Protection Plan. Unfortunately, up to this date the plan has not been implemented. The affected communities are still being exposed to high risks and the country suffers from a wave of violence against social leaders and human rights defenders. Moreover, the high levels of impunity following attacks persist, including attacks from the authorities themselves: this is demonstrated by the recent example of the mayor of Valdivia firing his gun and hitting the house of one member of Rios Vivos Antioquia. in the meanwhile, the construction works at the Hidroituango project are going on.


Therefore, we respectfully demand your government and other state entities to:

  • Provide guarantees to the victims of the armed conflict and families of missing people in the area of influence of the Hidroituango project, that there remain no more bodies to be exhumed, before the filling of the reservoir. Suspend the filling of the reservoir if necessary, until these exhumations have been duly and completely realized, and until they have provided certainty to victims and to the international community.
  • Ensure integral reparation, indemnification, relocation or compensation to all of the families affected by the project and represented by the Rios Vivos movement. Their rights should be respected and their access to food, housing, education etc. guaranteed.
  • Abstain from realizing forced displacements for development projects. If communities are to be relocated as a last resort measure, international standards and basic principles should be complied with.
  • Guarantee that the special police forces (ESMAD), paramilitary groups or other actors (be it state or non-state) do not violate the rights of people who exercise their legitimate right to peaceful protest, ensuring the effective protection of their physical and psychological integrity.
  • Do all possible efforts to negotiate with Rios Vivos Antioquia, to listen to their demands and arrive at an agreement in a peaceful manner. The measures contained in the Prevention and Protection Plan should be urgently implemented, as well as other measures that the state might consider necessary to safeguard the life and physical integrity of this important social movement.

We recognize the important advances realized in Colombia towards ending the armed conflict, and the importance of the peace process which is currently being implemented. We reaffirm our support to obtain a real, just and lasting social peace.


Yours sincerely,


Tania Gonzalez Peñas (Spain)

Jude Kirton-Darling (United Kingdom)                                    Helmut Scholz (Germany)

Bart Staes (Belgium)                                                                  Marie Pierre Vieu (France)

Gabi Zimmer (Germany)                                                            Estefania Torres Martin (Spain)

Miguel Urban Crespo (Spain)                                                    Martina Anderson (Northern Ireland)

Liadh Ni Riada (Ireland)                                                             Luke Ming Flanagan (Ireland)

Javier Couso Permuy (Spain)                                                   Matt Carthy (Ireland)

Ana Miranda (Spain)                                                                  Lynn Boylan (Ireland)

Bodil Valero (Sweden)                                                               Marina AIbioI (Spain)

Lola Sénchez Caldentey (Spain)                                              José Bové (France)

Xabier Benito Ziluaga (Spain)                                                  Stelios Kouloglou (Greece)

Eleonora Forenza (Italy)                                                            Lidia Senra (Spain)

Molly Scott Cato (United Kingdom)                                         Ernest Urtasun (Spain)


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