(Translated by Eunice Gibson CSN Volunteer Translator)
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, October 22, 2017
Once again, our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó turns to the solidarity of the country and of the world to report on the latest attacks that we have suffered on the part of the Government—Paramilitary that is revealing more and more its face of criminality.
The uncontrollable advance of paramilitarism in the region is evident. The campesino organizations in the region complain about the asphyxiating presence of the paramilitaries as a phenomenon that happened after the demobilization of the FARC. From the small merchant to the big business leader, they feel asphyxiated by the extortions that they impose and by the control of ways of thinking and of organizing that has gone so far as prohibiting complaints about their presence and death threats against those who do complain. We know that the big business leaders in Apartadó have told the military that they can’t stand any more extortion, but the military keeps on without moving a finger to interfere with their presence, or with their actions of extortion.
The following are the latest events that we report:
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, in the town of El Porvenir, in the district of San José de Apartadó, just at dawn a group of thieves, unidentified, entered several homes and stole belongings such as electrical appliances and other electrical equipment, and then they fled.
On Thursday, October 5, 2017, a large group of paramilitaries, coming from the district of Nuevo Antoquia in the municipality of Turbo, arrived at the place known as Cantarrana, located between the towns of Mulatos Medio and La Esperanza, in the district of San José de Apartadó, and they settled down there, and are still there today. They identified themselves as authorities in the area.
On Friday, October 6, 2017, when a group of people from the town of La Esperanza went to pick some meat from a cow that had been slaughtered recently, they were stopped by a group of paramilitaries who asked them if they were from the Peace Community. The people didn’t say anything because they were scared. The paramilitaries told them that they were very young and that they should not risk their lives; that they ought to quit the Peace Community because it keeps on filing complaints about their presence in the area and that was why they will have to kill them some day.
On Saturday, October 7, 2017, residents of the town of Arenas Bajas in the district of San José de Apartadó, again noticed the presence of a large contingent of paramilitaries in the place known as La Máquina in Arenas Bajas. They kept going around the canyon that connects Arenas Bajas with the town of Caraballo, municipality of Turbo, the area where that armed presence has been for many months. They claim to be the supreme authority in the area, without the military or police authorities doing anything to stop them.
On that same Saturday, October 7, 2017, subjects dressed in civilian clothes and carrying pistols arrived in the Luis Eduardo Guerra Peace Village, part of our Peace Community, located in the town of Mulatos Medio. They stayed for several hours, exploring the landscape and observing the families that live there. Some of them looked around the farm fields and the others explored the surrounding area.
On that same Saturday, October 7, 2017, in the town of La Resbalosa, in the district of San José de Apartadó, an informant who was placed there by the paramilitaries was seen going around the surrounding towns looking for information about every family that lives in the area. That same day he accosted a resident, a friend of the Community, and he claimed to be a paramilitary who represents the armed group that controls all of the people who live in the area.
On that same Saturday, October 7, 2017, paramilitaries who had been hanging around the Cantarrana part of the town of La Esperanza, hurled threats against our Peace Community. They insisted that, for them, the Peace Community is a nuisance because we complain about their presence and that’s why the Army comes up looking for them. Then they say that the Peace Community doesn’t want peace, but wants war instead, because of the complaints that they make. Because if they wanted peace, they wouldn’t complain about us; they would accept our domination of this area.
In these cases, this is nothing new. We have complained about this for a long time. At the negotiating table in Havana they had to set aside the notion of the government and the armed forces that “paramilitaries do not exist”, faced with the enormous number of complaints about their crimes. But they drafted a document that has had no effect. You could say that all of the agencies of the government: the President’s Office, the Ministries, the legislative bodies, the Inspector General’s Office, courts, prosecutors, the Public Defender’s Office, etc, are inundated with complaints about the paramilitaries, but we don’t notice even the slightest political will to catch up with them. The connivance of the government with these groups is absolute, whether it be by action or by omission.
Our Peace Community once again thanks all of the people, groups, organizations, communities, and municipalities or municipal groups who have given us moral support to continue resisting this disgrace, and we reaffirm our intention to never back down.
October 13, 2017