Anniversary in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado

( Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN volunteer translator )

February 21 marks the second anniversary of one of the most shocking massacres our country has ever seen: the army murdered Luis Eduardo, Deyner, Bellanira, Alfonso, Sandra, Natalia, Alejandro and Santiago. In a climate of absolute impunity, no-one has ever been punished in connection with either this massacre or any of the 170 other murders committed against this community. To this crime against humanity must be added all the acts of death and terror that have been perpetrated in the zone with a view to destroying us.

In the past two years all we have seen is the advance of the paramilitaries and the radicalization of armed conflict in the zone; demobilization by the government has enabled the paramilitaries to take over the zone completely ­ the lands and political and social control ­ and their activities are blurred with this playacting to the outside world.

All our friends, and men and women colleagues who fell in this massacre continue to accompany us day-by-day. Their teachings endure as an enduring message of life that we will continue to build on. Their absence pains us every day, but at the same time it encourages us not to desist against the adversities, because we know that they continue there. Their teachings have enabled us to regain hope and we are pressing ahead with the return to Mulatos.. We are clear that we will not retreat from a country that has been taken over by paramilitaries. After the massacre we decided that, as always during the past ten years, the only way to make us give up our principles is to put an end to all of us. That is the strongest legacy they have left us: to live for principles that are built day to day in the endeavor to achieve another world.

On February 21 at 8 a.m., we will be celebrating a Eucharist, as a community, at Mulatos where they murdered Luis Eduardo, Bellanira and Deiner. From there we will go on to celebrate a Eucharist at 12:30 p.m. at Resbalosa where they murdered Santiago, Natalia, Sandra, Alejandro and Alfonso. We will take earth from these two spots and share it among the various places that have shown solidarity with the community, which is one way of preserving the efforts to build a new land like the one they have made with their blood. That is what we will share at the encounter and celebration of the tenth anniversary of the 23 de Marzo community.

What is most conspicuous about the past ten years of State barbarity is the impunity enjoyed not just by this massacre, but by all the human rights violations against the community. Worse still are the crude simulations and maneuvers that the public authorities and even the justice system indulge in. That is why we cannot let this year go by without bearing witness to the underhand tricks the State has played. During the week of 12 to 16 February a man presenting himself as Jose López, lawyer, and another two men in civilian clothes went to the prison in Apartadó and there they offered seven people who were arrested in the zone two million pesos to testify that Edilberto Vásquez (the community leader murdered by the army in January 2006) was a guerrillero, and in that way they could put together testimonies against other people.

This demonstrates the degree of corruption and total shamelessness of the State¹s actions against the community. Nonetheless, the thought of our comrades who were massacred on 21 February 2005 and the lives they lived gives us the strength to continue seeking justice. That is why we are grateful for national and international solidarity with the community and all the actions that have been taken in many part of the world to ensure that justice is done.

February 20, 2007

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621

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