Colombian Survivors Seek To Bring a Paramilitary Chief and Drug Trafficker to Justice

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Contacts: Almudena Bernabeu, CJA international attorney at 00-34-648861629, and Lisa Cohen, at 310-395-2544

Miami, Florida; July 1, 2010:  The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), along with pro-bono co-counsel Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, has filed a lawsuit against Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo (also known as “Macaco”) in the Southern District of Florida for torture, extrajudicial killing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Macaco is the head of one of the most notorious paramilitary groups in Colombia, the Bloque Central Bolivar (BCB), a division of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).  Paramilitary forces under Macaco’s command executed Alma Rosa Jaramillo, a lawyer devoted to community work, and Eduardo Estrada, a community leader, in 2001.  CJA filed this case on behalf of Jesus Cabrera Jaramillo, Alma Rosa Jaramillo’s eldest son, and on behalf of relatives of Eduardo Estrada.  This is the first case brought under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act on behalf of Colombian victims against a member of the AUC.

Both Eduardo Estrada and Alma Rosa Jaramillo were leaders in the Program for Peace and Development in the Middle Magdalena (PDP).  The PDP is a non-governmental organization that promotes democracy, civil rights, and human rights for local and indigenous people in the Middle Magdalena region of Colombia.  Alma Rosa Jaramillo was an attorney practicing in the Middle Magdalena region and a leader of the PDP.  Paramilitary soldiers under Macaco’s command abducted Alma Rosa Jaramillo in late June 2001.  They tortured her to death.  Only a portion of Alma Rosa Jaramillo’s body was ever recovered.  About two weeks later, Eduardo Estrada, a founding member of the PDP, was gunned down and killed in front of a family member by a paramilitary soldier under Macaco’s command.  BCB paramilitary forces were responsible for the extrajudicial killing of more than twenty PDP leaders between 1997 and 2007.

Macaco commanded the BCB paramilitary unit responsible for scores of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and crimes against humanity in the Middle Magdalena.  In 2003, Macaco led the demobilization of the BCB, including approximately 7,000 fighters.  He joined the Colombian Justice and Peace process in 2005.  Under the terms of the Justice and Peace Law, paramilitary fighters who committed grave human rights crimes must surrender, disarm, turn over stolen assets and confess in order to receive significantly reduced sentences.

On May 5, 2008, Macaco, along with over one dozen other members of the AUC, was extradited to the United States to face criminal prosecution for narcotics trafficking and related charges.  None of the extradited commanders is charged with human rights crimes.  Their extradition abruptly interrupted the Justice and Peace process, depriving thousands of Colombian victims of their right to the truth and reparation.  Despite countless efforts by survivors and Colombian human rights groups, the Colombian authorities have taken no action to ensure that the extradited defendants continue to meet their obligation to confess their crimes.  Macaco faces drug trafficking and money laundering charges in both the District of Colombia and the Southern District of Florida.

CJA Executive Director Pamela Merchant says, “The extradition of the AUC leaders emptied the Justice and Peace process and left thousands of Colombian victims without the little they have obtained after years of struggle: some truth and justice. After more than two years of working with the victims and our Colombian partners, we all at CJA are profoundly honored to assist Colombian victims in their tireless search for justice, this time in U.S. Courts.”

Leo Cunningham, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, states, “Our firm is proud to partner with CJA in this groundbreaking suit seeking redress for the brutal slaying of Alma Rosa Jaramillo and Eduardo Estrada in U.S. courts.”

CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to ending torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress.  CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries transitioning from periods of abuse.

CJA developed this case in cooperation with our partner, the Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ).  CCJ is a Colombian non-governmental organization with consultative status before the United Nations.  It was founded in 1988 to promote and develop international human rights and humanitarian law.