Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Colombia - Call for Peace as Teachers Face Threats on Their Lives: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Colombia - Call for Peace as Teachers Face Threats on Their Lives: News

Article excerpt

On 20 June last year, Alejandro Jose Penata Lopez disappeared after leaving the school where he worked in the region of Cordoba in northern Colombia. His body was found in a nearby village. He had been tortured and then hanged with barbed wire.

It is a shocking case, but Penata Lopez was the 20th teacher to be murdered in the Cordoba region in under three years and the fourth of seven to lose their lives in 2011. A month after his death, a local school of more than 1,000 children suspended classes when its 44 teachers fled their homes. The teachers had received an ultimatum: they had one week to each pay 15 million pesos (approximately Pounds 5,000) to a paramilitary group operating in the area. If they did not, they had to leave the area or they would be killed.

According to the Cordoba teachers' association, Ademacor, 107 teachers have reported receiving threats from the armed groups and criminal gangs that plague the region. The union says many teachers have abandoned their jobs, leaving nearly 4,000 children facing the prospect of being unable to finish the school year. Others have continued to teach classes but under police protection.

Jorge Bruno Barrios, secretary general of Ademacor, said: "Teaching in Cordoba, we are living in a state of anxiety where we are scared to go to work."

Neo-paramilitary organisations and criminal gangs are competing to fill the vacuum left by the demobilisation of the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), the drug-trafficking right-wing paramilitary group that for years terrorised teachers it accused of collaboration with Colombia's leftist guerrilla insurgencies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.