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On Friday it has been a year since the disappearance of Sandra Viviana Cuellar, the 26 year-old environmental activst and former member of CENSAT-Friends of the Earth Colombia who went missing in Cali, Colombia. Real World Radio spoke with the head of CENSAT, Jorge Sanchez.
Sandra, an environmental engineer and university professor, disappeared on February 17, 2011 outside the city of Cali (Valle del Cauca department), where she was supposed to take the bus to go to Palmira, to teach at the universirty. Her personal belongings and documents were found days later close to where she disappeared a year ago.
Sandra was linked with the struggle for water and the protection of basins and wetlands.
She was dedicated to defending equal participation of local communities in the use and management of genetic resources, against the appropriation of those goods by external agents.
She coordinated an International Agrofuels Verification Mission in Cauca, together with CENSAT-Friends of the Earth.
CENSAT’s director Jorge Sanchez told Real World Radio that as a result of Sandra’s commitment she participated in the communities struggles linked with Cauca river by exposing the effects of sugar cane monoculture plantations and other envirnomental conflicts in that department.
Sanchez said: “Unfortunately there is a lot of social violence in
Colombia. There are reportedly 37,000 people missing. It is very sad that Colombians disappear and that there is no information as to what happened to them. Many of them appear dead and at least their families have the consolation of having the bodies of their loved ones, but that is not always the case”.
Organizations and friends of Sandra organized several activities on Friday to demand the Attorney General’s Office to clarify what they have done to find her. A cyberaction has been circulated to sign a letter to Colombia’s Attorney General. Also, both in Cali and in Plaza Bolivar in Bogota, there were activities to demand her return alive. In Manizales there was an artistic tribute to the people disappeared as a result of the widespread violence in Colombia.
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