Threatened teachers in southern Tolima had to travel to Ibague to seek protection


Although they have been reporting that they are victims of threats since February, 10 teachers in the municipality of Planadas (Tolima) had to travel to Ibague to inform the authorities of the situation.

According to the regional radio station Ondas de Ibagué, the teachers come from the district of Bilbao and pointed out that in intimidation they are required to leave that town or they would lose their lives.

They also indicated that the educators concerned are part of the school union of that population, the work for which they have been threatened.

They precisely carried with them the intimidating pamphlets to hand them over to the Office of the Ombudsman and request the protection of the authorities.

“We see these types of documents as a latent threat to the integrity of our colleagues. This is not the first time they have made a comment like this, we had already had another pamphlet in the streets that pointed out trade unionists as those who oppose peace and development in a region that has been sadly hit by violence,” they highlighted the testimony of one of the teachers on the radio.

In Ondas de Ibagué, they consulted with the National Protection Unit (UNP) and the Department of Departmental Education, where they indicated that administrative procedures were being carried out to transfer them.

This situation has been reported since February of this year, not only in Planadas, but also in the municipalities of Chaparral, Ataco and Rioblanco, also in southern Tolima.

On that occasion, the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Tolima Syndicate (Simatol) alerted the authorities for these threats, as reported on the RCN Radio station.

“We have a delicate situation, there are educators who are working in post-conflict areas and who are being threatened. Last year there was a death of one of them, allegedly due to the theft of his motorcycle. Several cases have been presented and the situation is difficult with them,” said Álvaro Huertas, Human Rights Secretary of Simatol, on the radio.

The trade unionist added that at that time they had not received an effective response from the authorities, despite the threats.

“It is not guaranteeing the safety, nor the life of the educator, because it is staying in the same region because in those appointments it was established in the norm that these transfers have to be done within that region for 10 years. There are about ten who have made the request and they could not be changed,” he said.

At the beginning of March, a similar situation was reported in the Catatumbo area (Norte de Santander), where there was a shortage of 400 teachers in educational institutions in that area of the country and among the reasons were threats from armed groups.

According to Asinort, the Norte de Santander teachers’ union, many teachers in the region have been intimidated by telephone this year alone.

“So far we don’t know what kind of people they are or who are making these extortive calls, if they are from prison. We are worried about this situation, he is no longer a teacher, nor are there two educators who have felt this situation and informed the authorities,” said Orielso Torrado, union leader, on the Caracol Radio station.


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