Translated by: Chelsea Match
Edited by: Nora Walker
Ituango, August 26, 2012 – News from the Ituango Traders Association for Public Opinion
Once again, the State has attacked the town of Ituango using the judicial system and the police (the CTI and the army). It was an attack against its own people, against working people. Yesterday, August 26, Ituango woke up to a militarized reality, with 23 citizens captured, their homes illegally entered by the military, and civilians threatened by state weapons. The frightened cries of wives, mothers, and children awoke the neighborhoods of Ituango.
The traders, who wake up early to work for the sustenance of their families and to serve the population that comes from the trails to do their weekly market, were harassed today, not by their customers who rush them to catch the chiva (a colorful open bus used in rural Colombia), but by CTI agents dressed in black from the Prosecutor General’s Office. With list in hand, they called them by name and accused them of crimes of which the 29th specialized prosecutor Luis Amón Moreno Mosquear has already accused the entire population of Ituango: subversion, conspiracy, and drug trafficking. It was this same prosecutor, who in the indictment against the traders captured on March 29, 2011 said, “Virtually 100% of Ituango’s population is involved in the narco-trafficking business and with the FARC.” And it was that same irresponsible official, who, feeling resentful of the Ituango village, signed the search warrants and arrest warrants for those detained by the police today, which further explains the order to confiscate the cement and urea that exist in the deposits of the municipality.
Sir Prosecutor Amón Moreno: in Ituango, cement is used to build houses, roads, stables, and development as in the rest of the world. The fertilizer is for the crops that give us sustenance. And those who use it as an ingredient in the processing of narcotics pass right under the noses of the police without them doing anything to stop it!
It is because of these 5 major captures in the urban centers of the municipality of Ituango, without counting the ones they have done in the different villages in the municipality, the most recent being the one on March 29, 2011, that the population is tired of such injustice, tired of seeing its citizens being unjustly accused. The people protested, and in a legitimate and spontaneous act, with rage, and with their heads held high, went to the main park to demand justice for their people. They demand the immediate release of their people, because those captured are good, hardworking people who are known and recognized throughout the community, and they are no more than other victims of the armed conflict and territory dispute to big business interests such as Hidroplano, which as of today, August 26th, is no different than in 2011, 2009, 2004, or 2002.
We have already denounced the organizations before the town defense office and human rights organizations because “Ituango has more than 300 pending captures.” And as we see today, it is not about capturing armed actors or delinquents. It is about capturing good people, people of the town that do nothing more than work for their families and work towards furthering the community. They are farmers, traders, transporters, masons, mechanics, electricians, and even the disabled, people with calloused hands, sunburnt skin, and marks of labor all over their body.
The Prosecutor General’s Office told us that the bloc was not under investigation, but today we see that many of the arrested appeared in this blog.
The police accuse us of not cooperating, but today we can say that there are allegations of extortion and still we do not see even one prisoner. There have been deaths of merchants and still we do not see a prisoner. There have been bombings where civilians and military have fallen and yet we still do not see a prisoner. What is it that they want us to denounce? If the facts are there, known by all, the police, who have trained personnel, technology, and intercepted communications to anticipate these events should capture those responsible.
Repressive, inept, state agencies pick on the people, make baseless accusations, raise false witnesses, and capture helpless, unsuspecting citizens who are an easy target. This is evident in previous captures, where judges should release the accused because the proof is either false or lacks a fundamental base.
Unfortunately, it is within national and departmental government policy that the enemy worth fighting is the population where they develop or will develop mega projects. This they make evident in their public statements. This is the security for Hydro Ituango that President Santos told us about at the main park. This is the investment coming to Ituango that the Secretary of Government of Antioquia in the Lyceum Pedro Nel Ospina talked about.
As citizens of Ituango, we want them to leave us to work and to fight for our families. We do not want our territory to become a scene of confrontation between the illegal and legal armed groups. We do not want to be used as a shield. We want them to allow us to progress and leave us to live with dignity.
War cannot be the only option for Ituango.
With much indignation,
The Ituango Traders Association (ASCOMI)
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)
Author: The Ituango Traders Association for Public Opinion
Source: The Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners