Voices of the victims: Jerardith Nieto Cuello

With the Stop Blood Coal campaign, PAX is committed to the tens of thousands of victims of paramilitary violence in the Colombian mining region of Cesar. We support these victims in their search for truth and reconciliation and push mining companies to take their responsibility and contribute to actual remedy for the victims.

The story of Jerardith Nieto Cuello

Jerardith Nieto Cuello Photo © Ronald de Hommel / PAX

Jerardith can remember the last time she saw her brother as if it was yesterday. It was on 14 November 2002, at about half past six in the evening, just as it was getting dark. A car came to a halt in front of our house. In the front seat was someone my brother knew, and behind him were two men I couldn’t see clearly.

‘Come with us!’, the driver shouted to Howes, my brother ‘There’s a car stuck in the mud near Los Chorros!’ My brother was a mechanic, so there was nothing strange about them coming to get him. While he was looking for a T-shirt to put on to go with the men, I asked him if he didn’t want something to eat first. One of the men in the back of the car called to me that Howes would soon be back. But when ten o’clock came he still wasn’t home.

We found Howes murdered near the lake he was supposed to go to. He was 25 years old. My father died three year later of grief. Howes was the dearest brother: he always gave me a kiss when I came home, and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

I have no idea why he was murdered, but it must have something to do with the person he knew in the car who came to pick him up. People called him Santa Facha, and he had links with the paramilitaries. He drove around in a Drummond car. Maybe people thought my brother had links with the guerrillas? That definitely wasn’t true.

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