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Isabel Zuleta

Isabel Zuleta

HRD, Spokesperson
Las 2 Orillas Article

‘Es urgente investigar el origen de las amenazas’. Entrevista a Isabel Zuleta, miembro del movimiento

Isabel Zuleta is a member of Movimiento Rios Vivos – MRV (Alive Rivers Movement), an environmental movement in the defense of the territories and communities affected by dam constructions and mining projects in the North of Colombia. She is a member of the National Committee of Movimiento Rios Vivos and the Spokesperson in the movement against the Hidroituango hydroelectric. The Hidrotuango hydroelectric, one of the largest plants in Latin America, is an embankment dam currently under construction on the Cauca River near Ituango in Antioquia Department, a region heavily affected by the Colombian conflict. The inhabitants of the project’s affected area have faced displacement and the loss of occupations in small scale mining and fishing in the Cauca River, for which they have received no compensation. Abuses against local communities from the police, military, private security and guerrilla forces have been common since 2013. In addition to this, human rights defenders who have opposed the construction of the dam have faced serious threats, including surveillances, smear campaigns, break ins, death threats and killings. In September 2013, Nelson Giraldo Posada, environmental rights defender from MRV, was found dead with bullets in his chest and legs by the banks of the Cauca River in the municipality of Ituango, Antioquia Department. Later that year, on 30 November 2013, Robinson David Mazo, also a member of MRV, was shot at and killed with 7 bullets in the municipality of Toledo, northern Antioquia Department.

Isabel Zuleta has been a victim of surveillance, interventions in her communications, death threats and criminalisation. During the Colombian Peace Process, threats by the paramilitary over the movement and the communities in Antioquia have been commonplace. Isabel has been targetted for speaking out on the marginalisation of the rural areas in the peace process, the militarisation of the territories, and the widespread discourse stating that social and environmental struggles hinder the peace process.


HRDs at risk in Colombia come from a broad range of different backgrounds, including: trade unionists, indigenous leaders, afro-colombian leaders, activists working with internally displaced persons and on land issues, women's rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, students and youth activists, church workers, LGBTI and HIV activists.


Isabel Cristina Zuleta, Colombia - Testimony at the 2017 Dublin Platform