One of Colombia’s most violent paramilitary commanders, known as Macaco, confessed to the murder of thousands of civilians during the country’s long-running civil war. Yet his extradition to the United States and eventual prison sentence in 2008 focused exclusively on his drug trafficking. There has been no accountability for Macaco’s commission of widespread human rights atrocities. CJA is suing Macaco for torture, extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity and war crimes so his victims can finally see justice served.
On July 16, 2001, Eduardo Estrada and a relative were walking down a street in their Colombian town of San Pablo when a paramilitary soldier approached the pair and shot Eduardo execution-style in the head. The shooting occurred about 300 meters away from a local police station and a group of government soldiers passed by the scene shortly afterwards; yet neither the police nor the soldiers provided assistance. Eduardo died that night in a local hospital.
Eduardo had been a leader of the social justice organization Program for Peace and Development in the Middle Magdalena (PDP). His assassin was a member of the right-wing paramilitary group known as the Bloque Central Bolívar (BCB), a group controlled by Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo, known as Macaco. In 1998, the Colombian government authorized Macaco to carry out counter-insurgency efforts into the Middle Magdalena region of Colombia. Members of the BCB later confessed that they had been ordered to kill Eduardo because of his suspected ties with guerillas.
Alma Rosa Jaramillo Lafourie was another victim of the BCB. Because of her work as a human rights attorney and a leader of the PDP, the BCB denounced her as a left-wing rebel sympathizer and repeatedly threatened her at her home. On July 1, 2001, parts of Alma Rosa’s body were recovered from a river. She had been tortured, mutilated, and dismembered.
Eduardo and Alma Rosa are just two of over 10,000 civilians killed or tortured by the BCB as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the people of the Middle Magdalena.
Although Eduardo and Alma Rosa’s families sought accountability from Macaco through the transitional justice process in Colombia, their hopes for redress were abruptly ended in 2008 when Macaco was extradited to the United States to face prosecution for narcotics trafficking. Macaco was convicted on international drug trafficking charges, and sentenced to 33 years in a Florida prison.
In 2010, CJA filed suit against Macaco on behalf of surviving family members of Eduardo and Alma Rosa. The complaint alleged torture, extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Macaco has not been criminally prosecuted for human rights offenses in either the United States or Colombia. Given the length of his prison sentence, CJA’s civil case was the only chance for Macaco’s victims to obtain some measure of justice for his commission of human rights violations.
In 2019, Macaco was granted early release from federal prison in exchange for his cooperation with the U.S. government and returned to Colombia. He was arrested upon arrival to Colombia and remains detained in Bogotá. While hope remains that Macaco will finally be held responsible for his crimes in Colombia, CJA continues to seek justice for Macaco’s victims with our civil case in the United States.