Venezuela called on the Colombian government to open an official “diligent and impartial” investigation into the massacre of 8 Colombian campesinos that took place on Thursday in the port city of Tumaco.
In a statement from the foreign ministry, Venezuela urged President Juan Manuel Santos to "identify the actors involved and place responsibility where it belongs."
The killings occurred in the Nariño department, in the southwest of the country, as coca growers were protesting the forced eradication of their crops by the government. Local reports and campesinos' rights groups say state security forces opened fire on the demonstrators.
“We urge the government of the Republic of Colombia to protect human rights, to duplicate efforts to overcome the policy of criminalization and repression of popular protests that have social grievances and to advance in the eradication of crops without generating victims," the statement said.
To this end, it calls for dialogue "as a method to consolidate the longed-for peace" and reiterated Venezuela's commitment to respect and consolidate human rights in “our America, with the aim to strengthen the struggle for equality and social justice.”
The statement concluded, "We reaffirm our deepest ties of solidarity with the Colombian people."
An official investigation by Colombian state police was announced Saturday, two days after the massacre.
The announcement followed calls for "a verification mission and truth commission” from Luz Perly Cordoba of the National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Growers, to “clarify violations of human rights by the public force."
Human rights group leaders have insisted that two separate commissions are needed to, first, provide an initial report and, then, log technical conditions, converse with witnesses and determine the facts.
According to the Afro-Colombian Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, local rural communities have been under increased pressure from paramilitary groups seeking to use civilians as "human shields" against government eradication activities.