Up to this point in 2012, 392 young people have been murdered in Quibdó, Buenaventura and Tumaco
(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator )
COMUNIQUE TO THE BROADER PUBLIC
“The blood of Abel calls from the ground” (Gen.4: 10)
The Regional Coordination of the Pacific, made up of the ethnic territorial organizations and the Dioceses of Quibdó, Tumaco, Apartadó, Buenaventura, Istmina and the Apostolic Vicariate of Guapi, denounces to the broader public at the national and international levels the grave situation, which is becoming more acute because of the murder of so many Afro-Colombian and indigenous young people.
In the cities and towns of the Pacific, criminals rule with the complicity of the ineffective authorities and a terrorized society.
The violence that has affected the indigenous and Afro-Colombian people in the rural areas of the Pacific since 1996 is now seen regularly in the streets of Quibdó, Istmina, Turbo and Guapi, but for years this genocide against young people has existed openly in the cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco. Although the authorities have not given the alarm, the citizens are in anguish because of the number of firearms that circulate with no control and because of their bloody use in the streets of the cities. This unusual loss of human life is a crime that calls out to heaven in a region that has traditionally been peaceful.
The increase in the vulnerable population in the poorest neighborhoods is also a breeding ground for the paramilitaries, guerrillas and other illegal armed groups that are fighting over territory for extortion and the profits from illicit drugs. The number of young people without education or responsible homes who fall into the criminal networks are the basic material for the organized criminals who now are fighting for control of the neighborhoods.
In 2012 to date, the approximately 80 violent deaths that have happened in Quibdó, 163 in Buenaventura, 149 in Tumaco (up to July), among others, in addition to many threatened and disappeared, have filled the inhabitants with fear and worry. We Christians cannot be indifferent in the face of this situation, and even less so can we who have taken on the option for the defense of life as a gift of God and assumed the duty of protecting it and defending the rights that are inherent in it.
In this grave situation, the community expects responsible action from all levels of State authorities, with policies that will guarantee the right to life and personal integrity of all citizens. Responsible and immediate actions by the competent authorities are urgently needed to stop the bloodletting. The community cannot go on suspecting active participation by the armed forces of “the law” in so many homicides considered to be “social cleansing.” It is impossible to understand how in small cities like Quibdó, Istmina, Guapi, Tumaco, Turbo, Apartadó and Buenaventura, among others, with a great abundance of uniformed personnel, the paramilitaries, guerrillas and other illegal armed groups rule as they please and carry out numerous criminal acts with impunity. It is not acceptable that many young people see that their only alternative is also to get a weapon to defend themselves, because they do not feel protected by the authorities. We cannot accept such a failure in the exercise of weapons control and civil security.
Finally, it is our duty as pastoral agents and people who are accompanying the indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples to ask of the local communities a greater commitment to defending their own surroundings and their own security. It is not acceptable to employ many minors in crime in order to escape legal punishment. It is not acceptable that many young people work as criminals while their families pretend not to understand. It is not acceptable to give space in our neighborhoods to murderers and remain silent. It is not possible to ask for civil security while we are accomplices by action or by omission.
The defense of life as a divine gift demands an effective commitment, organization within the different social sectors, institutional coordination, authorities that carry out their constitutional and legal duties, responsible functionaries and honest citizens who are able to privilege the common good over personal selfishness, even though for all of us this will mean difficulties and tasks which require personal, group and institutional commitments.
Because of all this we ask the Attorney General, the inspector general, the Defender of the People and the rest of the structures of authority that they act in a more effective and preemptory way, privileging official actions, in order that justice be applied and this bloodletting be stopped
REGIONAL COORDINATION OF THE PACIFIC:
OREWA Association Diocese of Tumaco
COCOMACIA Diocese of Buenaventura
ACADESAN Diocese of Istmina-Tadó
ASCOBA Diocese of Apartadó
Casa del Niño Association Apostolic Vicariate of Guapi
ASDES Diocese of Quibdó
Quibdó, October 24, 2012.