Eduardo Umaña was a prominent human rights lawyer in Bogotá, Colombia
who was involved in some of the key human rights cases, including
the "disappearance" of another human rights lawyer, Alirio Pedraza,
and the fate of the people "disappeared" by the Colombian military
before they stormed the Palace of Justice in 1985. While we never
met him directly, we worked on defending him. A key moment was in
1991 when he was in his office and told that gunmen were on their
way to kill him. The timely intervention by Senator Edward Kennedy
ensured that the US Embassy got on the ball and offered protection.
Once the Embassy's offer was made, the gunmen seemed to simply go
away. However in 1998, people visiting with him drew guns and killed
him in his office. Unfortunately, in Colombia, to be actively associated
with or involved in human rights protection earns you a death sentence.