(Translated by Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer editor.)
The community condemns disappearances, assassinations and displacements in Comuna Cinco and other neighborhoods. Conflict over territorial control grows.
The idea of a “Buenaventura at peace,” promoted by the district administration and seconded by the national government in their democratic security policy, has never been a reality in Buenaventura and is even less so now. A community that, in a very specific way, has suffered the barbarity of armed conflict is Comuna Cinco.
Homicides of young people, recruitment of minors, forced disappearances and forced displacement within neighborhoods are some of the impacts of armed conflict in Buenaventura, the most important port in the country. This conflict—according to all information—increased between December of 2010 and January of 2011, due to the ineffectiveness and negligence of justice, police, and political organizations at both the national and regional level. Without protection, the community has to face the systematic violation of their human rights, ethnic terrorism, and international humanitarian law.
One of the sparks that revived paramilitary action, it seems, has to do with the assassination of the brother of the paramilitary “Mueca” in the neighborhood of Punta del Este. According to the events of last December 24, between 8 and 9 in the evening, Mueca’s brother, who was drunk and acting like his paramilitary brother, physically and verbally assaulted a young man of the same neighborhood, who, provoked by the attack, murdered him.
The one known as Mueca together with other paramilitaries made an exhaustive search to find his brother’s assassin. They gave the assassin’s family a peremptory amount of time to find him and bring him to the neighborhood, or if they didn’t find him, they [the paramilitaries] would assassinate the family. On December 27, Mueca, when he had not avenged his brother’s death, committed suicide.
In the La Inmaculada neighborhood of Comuna Cinco, they have reported mass graves, torture chambers and human remains in the bar, “Aguacate.” On December 31, a young Afro-Colombian, Jackson Martinez, father of two, who was employed as a skilled construction worker, disappeared. A paramilitary in the neighborhood informed his family and friends not to look for him anymore, because they had “made mincemeat” of him near the neighborhood.
Disputes over territorial control, jealousy and distrust among the paramilitaries themselves have unleashed violent actions that affect the civil population. On December 21 in the Punta del Este neighborhood, a narco-paramilitary know as “Chumbi,” who operated in another area in that region, was murdered when he was walking in La Inmaculada. In the same neigborhood, in May of 2010, “Anducho” was murdered on the order of Caleno, the paramilitary boss of the neighborhoods Punta del Este and La Palera. Because of this another paramilitary commander ordered Caleno’s execution.
Wave of Terror
At a party in the La Inmaculada neighborhood, a paramilitary boss known as “Moises” was murdered. The murder was attributed to someone known as “Glofe,” who had gotten out of jail a few days earlier. “Glofe” asked for help from the paramilitaries in the Miraflores neighborhood, but they didn’t trust him and betrayed him, and he was murdered by paramilitaries in the R-9 neighborhood.
Another one of the paramilitaries’ reprehensible acts was the assassination of young Fernando Garces in front of his family and other inhabitants of the neighborhood. In order to justify their crime, the assassins said that Fernando had stolen construction rods from the Container Terminal at Buenaventura (TCBUEN). When the police came, a child who had seen what happened asked them to take him with them because he didn’t want to continue living in the neighborhood. Before this, the paramilitaries had threatened the boy’s family, ordering them not to tell what they had seen, and certainly not to identify those responsible.
These and other events that occurred in Buenaventura are hushed-up in the shadow of the so-called paramilitary demobilization and the presumed consolidation of democratic and civil security. In Buenaventura, the imposition of development, seen as port expansion, favors the driving forces of the US-Colombian Free Trade Agreement, rather than the Afro-Colombian population, which is how they justify politico-military control to avoid any resistance in territories suitable for the development of macro-projects.
So these things, forced displacement, permanent torture chambers, inhumane treatment and public punishment of young people, dismemberment, women sexually abused, tortured and murdered (their bodies dumped on the corner or in the garbage, and in other cases, disappeared), are every-day facts of life.
Through direct threats, fear of new acts of violence, fear of reprisals, constant assassinations in the Comuna, disappearances, fights among paramilitaries active in the region, whole families have been displaced from Punta del Este to La Inmaculada.
In light of the above, we are making an urgent request to local and national authorities, and to the international community, so that they may be alert to possible new forced disappearances, assassinations and displacements. In addition we are requesting immediate activation of the search system of forced disappearances, the location and return of bodily remains to the families, the effective dismantling of paramilitary organizations that operate in Buenaventura, attention to the protection of families already displaced, as well as concrete action to prevent new displacements.
Bogota, DC, January 23, 2011
-Fundacion Concern Universal- Ibague/Tolima [Universal Concern Foundation]
-Asociacion de Mujeres Lideresas de Familias- Mosquera/Cundinmarca [Association of Women Heads of Families]
-Corporaacion Red de Promotores de DDHH y DIH – Neiva/Huila [Network of Promoters of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law]
-Fundacion Comando de los Suenos – Sevilla/ Valle del Cauca [Dream Command Foundation]
-Pastoral Social de Armenia/Quindio [Social Concerns Ministry of Armenia/Quindio]
-Pastoral Social de Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca [Social Concerns Ministry of Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca]
-Escuela de Convivencia Pacifica y Solidaria de Puerto Carreno/Vichada [Coexisting for Peace and Solidarity School of Puerto Carreno/Vichada]
-Secretariado de Pastoral Social Regional Caritas Suroriente Colombiano – Villavicencio/Meta [Caritas Regional Office of Social Concerns Ministry for Southeast Colombia – Villavicencia/Meta]
-Corporacion Colombia Joven – Villarica/Cauca [Colombian Youth Association]
-APRODIC – Cartagena/Bolivar [Asociacion para la Promocion del Desarrollo Integral del Caribe – Association for the Promotion of Comprehensive Development of the Caribbean Area]
-Corporacion Desarrollo Solidario (CDS) – Cartagena/Bolivar [Development Aid Association]
-Corporacion por el Desarrollo de la Provincia de Velez/Santander [Association for the Deveopment of the Province of Velez/Santander]
-Fundacion Madre Herlinda Moises – Cartagena/Bolivar [Mother Herlinda Moises Foundation]
-Fundacion San Isidro – Duitama/Boyaca [San Isidro Foundation]
-Asociacion Minga – Bogota D.C. [MINGA Association – Association for Alternative Social Development, a Human rights Group]
-Plataforma Sur de Organizaciones Sociales – Neiva/Huila [South Platform of Social Work Organizations]
-Fundacion Socio-Cultural Huellas Africanos – Buenaventura/Valle del Cauca [African Footprints Socio-Cultural Foundation]
-Diocesis de Sincelejo – Diakonia de la Paz/Sucre [Sincelejo Diocese – Diakonia of la Paz/Sucre]
-Secretariado de Pastoral Social – Caritas de la Arquidiocesis de Baranquilla/Atlantico [Office of Social Concerns Ministry – Caritas of the Archdiocese of Baranquilla/Atlantico]
-Pastoral Social de Tumaco [Social Concerns Ministry of Tumaco]
-Red Joven Derechos Humanos – Cali/Valle del Cauca [Human Rights Youth Network]
-Asociacion Juvenil Bet-lehem – Ocana/Norte de Santander [Bet-lehem Youth Association]
-Corporacion Casa de la Juventud – El Tambo/Cauca [House of Youth Association]
-Corporacion Tiempos de Vida – Migangue/Bolivar [Lifetimes Association]
-Corporacion Juvenil Thimos – Bogota D.C. [Thimos Youth Association]
-Corporacion Cultural para el Desarrollo Arlequin y los Juglares – Medellin/Antioquia [ Harlequin-and-the-Jugglers Cultural Association for Development]
-Taller Abierto – Cali/Valle del Cauca [Open Workshop]
-Escuela de DDHH del Valle del Cauca – Cali/Valle del Cauca [Cauca Valley School of Human Rights]
-Corporacion PODION – Bogota D.C. [NGO serving Development Projects]
-CODEPAS – Monteria/Cordoba [Diocesis de Monteria – Proyecto de Desarrollo Comunitario CODEPAS – Pastoral Mission to Contribute to Comprehensive Community Development]
-Asociacion Cultural Casa del Nino – Villarica/Cauca [Children’s Home Cultural Association]
-Fundacion Creciendo Unidos – Bogota D.C. [Growing Together Foundation]
-Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez – Bucaramanga/Santander [Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective]
-Asociacion Santa Rita para la Educacion y Promocion (FUNSAREP) – Cartagena/Bolivar [Santa Rita Association for Education and Advancement]
-Comite Cultural de Zapamanga (COCUZA) – Floridablanca/Santander [Cultural Committee of Zapamanga]
[This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.]