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Nelson Giraldo Posada, a 31 year-old Colombian of Ituango, in Antioquia department, was the leader of the Movement Rios Vivos. He was in charge of a group of nearly 50 people affected by Hidroituango hydroelectric project, who are taking refuge in the Coliseum of the University of Antioquia, in Medellin.
A few days ago Nelson visited his former workplace, despite threats against him and in a desperate attempt to find a way to go back to his place of origin. He planned to consider a safe return for the people affected by the dam project.
But on Tuesday afternoon, there were gunshots on the beach known as ‘Sardinas’, which is part of Ituango municipality. Nelson Giraldo Posada was brutally killed. He was found by the shore of river Cauca with his throat slit and bullets in his chest and legs. He had a wife and two children who are still at the University’s Coliseum, where there is insufficient food and health conditions are poor.
The news was cited in a press release issued on Wednesday by Movimiento Rios Vivos Colombia, a group that resists dams and defends the territories and the people affected by the construction of dams.
According to the press release, on September 9th the Supreme Court of Medellin ruled in favor of the people affected by the Hidroituango dam of Movimiento Rios Vivos and imposed a 6-day deadline to answer the community’s demand to be protected from the threats to their lives and physical integrity.
“We demand an investigation of the incidents and that the responsible for the murder are brought before justice. We also demand protection for all the members of Movimiento Rios Vivos affected by Hidroituango”, reads the press release.
Hidroituango is owned by Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM). According to the company’s website, the dam will have 225 meters high, it will be located on Cauca river (one of the country’s main rivers) and it will flood 3,800 hectares of land. Its reservoir will be 80 km wide. The dam will indirectly affect the municipalities of Ituango, Toledo, San Andrés de Cuerquia, Valdivia, Briceño, Yarumal, to the north of Antioquia, and Peque, Buriticá, Sabanalarga, Liborina, Olaya and Santa Fe de Antioquia, to the west.
Nearly 400 people from different municipalities have been displaced by the project in the past six months. They have been living in the Coliseum of the University of Antioquia.
“Movimiento Rios Vivos is in mourning. We lost a great leader of Ituango muncipality”, Isabel Zuleta, spokesperson of Movimientos Rios Vivos in Antioquia, told Real World Radio.
“Our fear is not irrational. We haven’t made the threats up, we reported them and the Government didn’t listen”.
The leader explained that it is not the task of Movimiento Rios Vivos to investigate the murder and threats because the lives of its members are at risk. However, she said the National Protection Unit of the Interior Ministry and the government of Antioquia have failed to protect the life and physical integrity of the people who are against Hidroituango.
“We are asking the state and the Attorney General that it is their responsibility to investigate the incidents. We demand that they find the responsible for the murder and the people who issued the threats against other leaders”, Zuleta said.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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