(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a volunteer CSN translator )
National Victims of State Crimes Movement
Humanitarian Crisis in Northeast Antioquia
Rural Press Agency, April 5, 2007
A new “false positive”
Last Sunday, March 25, in the town of Ojos Claros, in the rural zone of the township of Remedios (Antioquia), troops from the Calibío Batallion, belonging to the 14th Brigade of the National Army, under the command of Lt. Castellanos and Sgt. Palomino, arbitrarily captured two young peasants of this township, one of whom escaped; the other, Carlos Mario García, twenty-one years old, remained in the hands of the military.
Confronted with these facts, the community mobilized with the purpose of demanding from the army the release of Carlos Mario. Because of the pressure the army turned over the dead body of the young peasant, who had been assassinated by soldiers about 3 pm, and was declared a “guerrillero killed in combat.”
In the moment of their capture, both young men were working, transporting wood down the Tamar River. Carlos Mario García was affiliated with the community action group of the township of Ojos Claros, and was a member of the youth cultural group of Peasant Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC).
In statements made to the regional newspaper, Vanguardia Liberal, on March 27, Colonel Jorge Alberto Segura Manonegra, commander of the 14th Brigade, announced that the supposed armed confrontation in which Carlos Mario was assassinated occurred in the township of Ojos Claros during the “Atenea 1” operation, and the troops of the 14th Engineers’ Batallion of the “Battle of Calibío” seized an AK 47 rifle, along with supplies and ammunition.
The photograph of the peasant Carlos Mario’s cadaver wrapped in black plastic, next to two soldiers of the Calibío Batallion and a rifle, was published in the Vanguardia Liberal newspaper. This article of disinformation carries the headline, “Military operations in the south of Bolívar find tailor’s shop seemingly from the FARC , and a man was killed in combat.”
The truth is that the township of Ojos Claros, where the events took place, is in northeast Antioquia, within jurisdiction of the municipality of Remedios, and not in Cantagallo, in southern Bolívar, as reported in the newspaper. Carlos Mario was neither a tailor nor a member of the FARC, but rather a transporter of wood and community leader. Besides, there was no battle. This was an assassination carried out by the Army.
On another front, the radio station has been announcing these days that displacement in the region is the result of the guerrillas. This is wrong. The community has been forced to abandon their homes and land and seek refuge because of the hostility and threats of the Army and because of the fear caused by the assassinations of peasants in the area. This is a forced displacement, to which the community and the social organizations of the area have responded by setting up a temporary internal refuge.
The peasants: condemned to death?
With Carlos Mario, Public Forces have now assassinated and disappeared twelve peasants in the past year, all of them recognized members of the community and the social organizations of the region.
The list of victims in the Cimitarra River valley and southern Bolívar for the last twelve months is as follows:
Carlos Trujillo, assassinated on July 25, 2006, in the township of Altos de Manila, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Pablo Emilio Agudelo Sánchez, assassinated on September 4, 2006, in the township of Dosquebradas, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
José Manuel Girón, assassinated on September 5, 2006, in the township of Caña Dorada, municipality of Cantagallo, Bolívar.
Alejandro Uribe, assassinated on Spetember 19, 2006, in the township of Mina Gallo, municipality of Morales, Bolívar.
Guillermo León Benítez, assassinated on November 25, 2006, in the township of Cruz Bajitales, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Heriberto Correa, assassinated on January 6, 2007, in the township of Cruz Bajitales, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
William Hernán Sánchez Montelier, assassinated on February 6, 2007, in the township of Alto Tamar, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Edgar Lozano Castelblanco, assassinated on March 13, 2007, in the township of El Campo, municipality of Yondó, Antioquia.
Mercedes Rojas Naranjo, disappeared on May 26, 2006, in La Corona, municipality of El Bagre, Antioquia.
Gustavo Castañeda, disappeared on June 15, 2006, in the township of Puerto Nuevo Ité, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Javier Francisco Castro, disappeared on June 23, 2006, in the townhsip of Puerto Matilde, in the municipality of Yondó, Antioquia.
Ovidio Betancur, disappeared on November 21, 2006, in the township of Alto Cañabraval, in the municipality of San Pablo, Bolívar.
This long list of civilian victims is evidence of the systematic practice of extermination of peasant community, whose clear and visible responsibility is the Colombian Army, and especially the Joint Work Forces made up of troops from the 5th and 14th brigades under the command of Colonel Castellanos, which carry out operations in the San Lucas mountains.
Temporary internal refuge:
In face of the regional humanitarian problematic situation, the Peasants’ Association of the Cimitarra River Valley and the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace of Northeastern Anquioquia (Cahucopana) have organized a humanitarian camp for temporary internal refuge, which was established on April 1st in the neighborhood of the township of Puerto Nuevo Ité (La Cooperativa), in the rural area of Remedios, Antioquia.
Approximately a hundred displaced families, about 350 people, have arrived in four days, coming from the townships of Camelias, Dosquebradas, Ojos Claros, and Puerto Nuevo Ité. Right now, families from other neighboring townships are beginning to mobilize to go to the temporary refuge, in order to protect themselves from the aggression of the Public Forces.
Rural Press Agency
Saravena – Arauca, April 9, 2007
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621