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12 April 2011 | | | |


Bogota: Actions to remember Colombian missing activist

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On Friday, several organizations celebrated the world day of action against forced disappearances in Colombia. Activities to remember Colombian activist Sandra Viviana Cuellar who disappeared on February 17th were held in Colombia and in other countries.

Sandra disappeared 54 days ago, but still there isn’t any strong evidence about where she is. Sandra’s family contacts national authorities regularly to see if there are any news. But the answer has always been no.

Under the slogan “Against disappearances. With Sandra in our Hearts” the organizations carried out several activities in Bogota, capital city of Colombia, and in Cali. In Brussels there was a demonstration outside the Colombian embassy.

In Bogota, the main activity was held in Plazoleta Manuel Gustavo Chacon and was carried out “so people wouldn’t forget about the fact that Sandra is still missing and to make the Colombian authorities commit to her search and find her alive”, said Jorge Sanchez, director of CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia in an interview with Real World Radio. Sanchez was one of the people in charge of the coordination of this activity.

Several human rights organizations participated, especially Minga, in addition to environmentalist groups and Sandra’s friends. There were dances, musical performances, and poems were read to remember Sandra and all the people missing. “It was quite a spiritual activity, that tried to call the attention of the public in general and of the authorities”, said Sanchez.

Sanchez highlighted the peaceful work carried out by Sandra, and he referred to her as a “very spiritual person, committed to social and environmental issues.” Sandra’s father, Jose Dumar Cuellar, referred to her daughter as a strong and proactive woman, according to Colombian newspaper El Pais. The environmentalist has been an active participant in cultural, social and especially environmental activities, and a dancer in several companies.

Sandra has worked in initiatives to protect river basins, to promote peasant markets and to oppose sugarcane monoculture plantations, for instance. The weeks before she disappeared, Sandra was working in a project of environmental management for Yumbo municipality in Valle del Cauca department. She had also worked with the Yanacona indigenous people to protect the Cauca River.

She also worked at CENSAT a few years ago. Real World Radio wanted to know a little more about the work by this environmentalist organization since Sandra went missing. “We created a committee to find Sandra, to promote the involvement of other human rights and social organizations in the search for Sandra”, said Sanchez. This committee is made up by around 15 organizations from Bogota and by Sandra’s friends and family.

“We are also working with Minga particularly to find mechanisms for embassies, state agencies, universities, etc, to remember Sandra”, added Sanchez. The activist finally said that it is important we don’t forget her “even though she has been missing for a long time”, and expressed his wish to “find her safe and sound one of these days.”

Photo: From CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia.

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