Paramilitaries Threaten Comunas in the Valle del Cauca
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN’s Program Assistant)
The organizations that have signed below see with incredible concern how the lives of young boys, girls and youth have once again been put in danger by the actions of paramilitary groups that, in the midst of the election period, seek to sow terror amongst the population.
According to the information that has been gathered through testimonies of the community, since the first weeks of March, members of a paramilitary group have used pamphlets and lists to send death threats to inhabitants of the municipalities of Jamundí, Yumbo, Buenaventura, Zarzal and Florida, as well as inhabitants from Comunas 12, 14 and 18 of the city of Cali, in the Department of the Valle del Cauca and in the municipality of Puerto Tejada, which lies in the Northern part of the Department of Cauca.
Through this strategy of intimidation the paramilitaries want to seize control of the population by cultivating a state of fear, obligating the inhabitants to remain in their houses at times that vary from 8 to 10 at night, affecting the right to move freely and causing great difficulties to those who work until the late hours of the night.
One of the threats says, “The hour of social cleansing has come and now it is the turn of the sons of bitches, sluts, crack addicts and people with aids, drug dealers, street and apartment thieves, car thieves, kidnappers and young drinkers, we have you identified…Every son of a bitch that we find in a bar after 10 p.m. we will not find innocent, there will be no more thieves causing work for society, beware, because we know who you are…justice or death, you decide…” One of the lists that includes the names and aliases of the threatened youths says, “put the good children to sleep, because we will put the bad ones to sleep.”
In the last week of the month of March 2010, “the paras – Autodefensas,” as they signed the document, threatened to carry out a “social cleansing” against “drug addicts, gays, sluts, snobs, informers, and thieves.” These threats appeared in pamphlets distributed throughout the Comuna 18 in the neighborhoods of Los Chorros, Lourdes, Althos Los Chorros, La Esperanza, La Cruz, Napoles, Las Palmos and the sector of La Torre.
Two weeks later, lists appeared with 30 names and nicknames of various youths of the sector. The lists were posted in visible places in the community, for example: The Little Plaza in the neighborhood of Lourdes and on four corners in the Los Chorros neighborhood, and they were slipped under the doors of the houses of the youths. In some cases they were given directly to family members.
On Monday, April 19, in a place known as “the hole” two men with hoods pursued the 26-year-old youth nicknamed “cuca,” who managed to get away without being shot.
On Thursday, April 22, various youths of the sector were found bathing in the La Chociona river, when armed men dressed in civilian clothing with rubber boots, divided in two groups, arrived at the place. Some came down via the hill and others arrived by road in two cars and various motor bikes; they went down and took the youths out of the river, as well as one man the youths did not know who was bathing in the river with his family. They made them stop in a line, they hit the man and put a gun to his head, while other men pointed guns at the rest; they took the man and said to the youths, “now you follow” and they mentioned the names of the youths, and the assailants introduced themselves as being part of the “Kangri” band. They put the man in the car and took him and they told the youths to go, and to count while they were leaving, and pointed their guns at them.
In the last week, during the day, a black four-door truck with tinted windows has been going around the sector near the houses of the youths whose names appear on the list; a woman gets out of the car to talk on a cellular phone and later gets back in the car, and they go.
Starting at 11 p.m. men with hoods dressed in black, with plastic boots and heavily armed, patrol the entire community and have established a curfew. Pamphlets that have been distributed state that “Beginning at 11 p.m. anyone who is seen in the street will be killed.”
It is very worrying that in spite of the strong military presence in the zone these groups have mobilized themselves with evident ease, threatening the community without any action being taken to stop them or without any protection being offered to the population by the army. In Comuna 18, the Third Brigade of the special Military Police group is present, as well as mobile bases (one location in the las palmas sector – Mobil Base Polvorines- and higher up, in the Cerro de la Teta, the High Mountain Batallion).
The death threats and the intimidation that young boys, girls and youths are the objects of, by illegal groups and especially those called the “Black Eagles,” are a violation of all of the international agreements that the Colombian State has signed, and the abuses violate the promises of protection and the guarantees of rights of young boys, girls and youths.
Based upon the acts that have already been committed, and in the face of the gravity of the situation, the below-signed organizations demand:
From the State authorities:
1. An investigation of all of the acts that cultivate terror, fear and insecurity in these communities.
2. Protection of the threatened communities and urgently of Comuna number 18, that is at the mercy of these illegal groups that have been taking control of the territory without any State-official entity offering protection for the population that lives in these communities.
3. Guarantees of freedom of movement for the population in the territory, since, because of work, many families must travel until the late hours of the night through the Comuna to access their houses, above all in the high parts of Comuna 18.
4. Respect of the “rights of young boys, girls and youths,” as the Colombian Constitution and the Convention of the Rights of the Child signed by the Colombian State both state.
5. That the official entities like the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing –ICBF (in Spanish)-, make public what actions they are going to take against this situation and that they take actions integral to the protection of childhood and youth in these communities.
From the International Community
1. That the Country’s Special Team of the Resolution 1612 regarding childhood and armed conflict documents the afore-mentioned situation and informs the Special Representative of the Secretary General about the gravity of the acts committed by the paramilitaries who continue to threatened the young boys, girls and youths of the communities in the area.
2. That the diplomatic community carries out their duties so that the Colombian government will respond to the urgent situation, guaranteeing the right to life, personal integrity and free movement of the inhabitants.
Bogota, May 6, 2010
Program co-financed “For our territories we create identities”, Terre des Hommes Germany, Colombia Office
Coalition Against the Linking of Young Boys, Girls and Youths to the Armed Conflict
Galeria de la Memoria Tiberio Fernandez, Cali
Banco de Datos, Cali
Modified (Friday, May 7, 2010)
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621