Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Colombia: International calls for justice in murder of Alvaro Miguel Rivera

In the last few days, a few of the leading international human rights and LGBT rights advocacy organizations have released statements demanding that Colombian authorities properly investigate and resolve the March 6th murder of 41 year old Álvaro Miguel Rivera (pictured right) in the city of Cali.

They include:
To his credit, Jorge Iván Ospina, Cali's Mayor (pictured left), held a community town hall meeting on March 12th, six days after Rivera was found murdered and before most international organizations released their statements.

According to Cali's El Pais, Ospina announced that his office would give $20 million pesos (approx. $8,300 dollars) to anyone willing to give information leading to the capture of Rivera's killers.

Ospina also announced that his office would create a task force to address hate crimes against the LGBT population and not only when it came to murder investigations.

He also acknowledged that police authorities under his command might not be the most enlightened public force authorities, but argued that his office was trying to make things better, and said that authorities were still investigating the murders of dozens of transgender individuals named by Colombia Diversa.

El Tiempo also covered the town hall meeting and says that not everyone welcomed the Mayor's overtures. Pedro Julio Pardo, a member of a transgender rights organization in Cali called the Santa Maria Foundation, criticized the fact that it took Rivera's murder for the Mayor's office to take any action when he said that different organizations had spent months asking them to respond to the increasing number of murders, particularly in the transgender community.

Pardo said that, in the past two years, 22 transgender women have been found murdered and another 33 had reported being attacked and asked the Mayor to develop specific public policies to address the situation.

In the end, the Mayor and several LGBT community advocates agreed to form a "dialogue table" and to engage in follow-up meetings to develop an appropriate response to these crimes.


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