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"They stigmatized the popular mobilization... accusing the people of being led by the guerrillas," Legal Team Pueblos denounced.
On Monday, a group of people who call themselves "good people" and members of the paramilitary group known as "Sardinata" held hostage spokesperson for the Catatumbo Unity Committee, members of the Legal Team Pueblos, and Silvano Serrano, the governor of the Norte de Santander department.
Around midnight on Monday, those citizens had been held against their will for more than 13 hours at the Las Mercedes 2 School where they had been holding a dialogue between authorities and social organizations.
At approximately 9:00 a.m., however, the "good people" and the paramilitaries tied the access doors to the school with wire to prevent the participants in the dialogue from leaving.
"Throughout the day, they stigmatized the popular mobilization that happens on the roads of Catatumbo accusing the people of being led by the guerrillas," Legal Team Pueblos denounced.
This NGO also explained that the captors repeated the same discourse that President Ivan Duque's administration and Colombian economic elites use to criminalize protesting citizens.
"At the heart of our demands is the peace accord," they told me.
"For us in Catatumbo, that means ending eradication and fumigation of coca, and implementing pledges for voluntary substitution". pic.twitter.com/pSERHxQqqm
"In other regions of the country, the right-wing 'good people' have acted in the open with firearms against demonstrators with the full consent of the repressive state forces," it added.
Similar to this denunciation, local outlets reported that while the governor and social leaders were being held captive, National Police agents were freely entering and leaving the school.
Social leaders recalled that this event takes place amid increasing paramilitary aggressions against farmers. In one of the most recent attacks in a place called Agualasal, they shot demonstrators and assaulted citizens.