VP Santos: “The threat to Colombia is outside its borders” “Agro Ingreso Seguro:” subsidizing the rich
Oct 092009
Miguel Lapo (center).

We are enormously saddened to learn of the murder, by unknown assailants, of two Ecuadorian community leaders along the border with Colombia last week.

CIP staff met one of the two, Miguel Lapo, last November when we accompanied Rep. Jim McGovern’s (D-Massachusetts) visit [.pdf] to the Ecuador-Colombia border region. Mr. Lapo was a founder of the border town of Barranca Bermeja, Sucumbíos, Ecuador. Barranca Bermeja is right on the border: one can look across the river from the center of town and see see Putumayo, Colombia.

Though we only spent a couple of hours with him, it was clear that Mr. Lapo had the respect and affection of hundreds of people living in a zone battered by the conflict in nearby Colombia – a conflict that many had come to Barranca Bermeja to escape.

Here is a statement about last week’s murders released today by Rep. Jim McGovern. We join in Rep. McGovern’s strong call on the Ecuadorian (and, if relevant, the Colombian) authorities to identify, prosecute and punish those who ordered and carried out the killings.

Statement by U.S. Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA-03)
On the murders of community leaders Miguel Lapo and Miguel Pinzón in Sucumbíos, Ecuador
October 9, 2009

It is with deep sorrow that I learned of the recent deaths of two prominent community leaders on the Ecuadorian border with Colombia.  Miguel Lapo and Miguel Pinzón were murdered by unknown perpetrators on September 28th and September 29th.

Mr. Lapo was killed in Barranca Bermeja, Ecuador – a town just across the river from Colombia that he helped found 20 years ago. Mr. Pinzón was assassinated in the nearby town of San Martín.

I met Mr. Lapo in November 2008, when I traveled to Barranca Bermeja to learn more about the spillover effects of Colombia’s armed conflict into Ecuador.  Mr. Lapo had organized a community meeting for my visit, at which I heard heartbreaking testimonies of the challenges faced by Colombian refugees and Ecuadorians living in the border region – the people Mr. Lapo dedicated his life to protect.

Although my visit with Miguel Lapo was brief, it was clear to me that he was a dedicated, intelligent, and caring man who fought for peace and the rights of both Colombian refugees and Ecuadorians living in his community.

While we don’t yet know the killers’ identities, I fear that these murders are part of an effort – whether by Colombian armed groups or narco-trafficking organizations – to intimidate all independent social organizations in the region.

I call on the Government of Ecuador to fully investigate the deaths of Miguel Lapo and Miguel Pinzón. The Government of Ecuador has recently taken important steps to provide legal recognition to the hundreds of thousands of Colombians seeking refuge within its borders. Identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the recent murders is essential if Ecuador is to achieve its stated goal of protecting vulnerable refugee communities and encouraging good governance and development in border communities.

At this moment, my thoughts, prayers and most sincere condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues of Mr. Lapo and Mr. Pinzón, and my attention and solidarity are always with the many Ecuadorian border communities that have so generously provided shelter and welcome to so many refugees from Colombia’s violent conflict.

For more information, contact:
Michael Mershon, Press Secretary
Cindy Buhl, Legislative Director
Phone: (+1) 202-225-6101

5 Responses to “Murders on the Ecuador-Colombia border”

  1. Lotta Says:

    The murder of Mr. Lapo further demonstrates the necessity of the two countries to end the diplomatic standoff and to secure the region. If the two governments cannot live up to this responsibility, the efforts, the energy, and the ability of people like Mr. Lapo will be in vain. The community members of Barranca Bermeja have demonstrated their dedication to peace and reconciliation, now it is up to the national governments of Colombia and Ecuador to do the same.

  2. Camilla Says:

    Memo to McGovern: FARC spares no one. And still you believe that appeasement and concessions, and ‘inclusion’ and ‘humanitarian accords’ are the best way to make FARC turn nice. Guess what? It doesn’t and one day FARC will get all of your friends if you don’t stop succoring them with kindness and ‘understanding.’

  3. Camilla Says:

    Lotta: How can there be cooperation if the Ecuadorean government remains in bed with FARC, protecting it to get back at its hated neighbor Colombia? It’s all there in the FARC computer, something the Ecuadorean government denies as fake. Until there’s a confrontation of the truth about Ecuador’s collaboration with the Marxist drug terrorists, all the cooperation in the world is going to be useless. Correa and his cabinet pals and FARC have an ideological affinity and until Correa can admit this and renounce terrorism in the name of his own ideology, it’s just gonna be a dog and pony show.

  4. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Camilla. A dog and pitbull fight I’d dare say. If Correa as you say is in bed with FARC, nobody doubts Uribe’s rolling smooching with narco paramilitaries. So I don;t think there will be an easy way out of the quagmire as their affinities are antipodes with each other.

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