(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
What has been going on in our area in the last few weeks reaffirms what we have been saying in our reports for months, years. The total control by the paramilitaries and their efforts to exterminate our community, with the protection and complicity of the government, especially the armed forces and the police, is the government’s policy. The deeds that we are recording for history, so that they will be punished some day, are:
On Saturday, October 27, 2012, around 6:00 a.m., in the town of La Unión, there was a confrontation between the Army and the FARC guerrillas. According to the local communications media, a soldier, “ALEXANDER BLANDON MAYO” was killed. The soldiers had camped next to the residence of a campesino family. Two adults and a three-year-old child were at home at the time of the combat. The soldiers vowed that they would get revenge for the death of the soldier.
On Sunday, October 23, 2012, military troops attached to the 24th Mobile Brigade, were patrolling in the town of La Resbalosa, where there is a settlement of members of our Community. The soldiers proceeded to occupy the land belonging to the Community. This is illegal because it is private property. When they were camped there, the families belonging to the Community asked them to respect their property and to leave the area. Nevertheless the soldiers responded to the community very aggressively, reminding them that it appeared that the community had forgotten what had happened in the very same place on February 21, 2005, when Bolivar and his family were massacred in a heinous manner. The soldiers refused to comply with the community’s request and occupied the living space of our Peace Community for more than eight days.
On that same Sunday, October 23, 2012, in the nighttime, there was another confrontation between the Army soldiers based in San José de Apartadó and the FARC guerrillas. Once again they placed the civilian population living in the urban part of San José at risk. Once again the civilian population is placed in the middle, used as human shields.
On Sunday, November 4, 2012, around 12:00 noon, in the town of Rodoxali, there was fierce combat between paramilitaries and the guerrillas. It lasted approximately three hours. According to the campesinos who lived nearby, there were Army troops there, who told them to leave them alone or that they would kill some of them. But the troops just stood there the whole time like spectators.
On Thursday, November 8, 2012, paramilitaries coming from the base at Piedras Blancas, in the Municipality of Carepa, headed for the towns in San José de Apartadó. According to the residents, the paramilitaries declared that they had a green light from the Army troops to carry out actions against the residents of the towns in San José. They said the proof of that is the freedom with which they move around in the area, because, according to them, the Army is not going to go after them.
On Friday, November 9, 2012, 400 paramilitaries coming from the paramilitary base at Nuevo Antioquia and Playa Larga arrived at the town of Arenas Bajas in the district of San José de Apartadó. They threatened a family and told them that they were planning to go up to Arenas Altas because, according to them, they were looking for some people who live in Arenas Altas and that some of those people are from that sonofabitching Peace Community, which has to be exterminated because it is an obstruction in the area.
On Saturday, November 10, 2012, a group of paramilitaries arrived in the town of Arenas Altas. They went around threatening death to several campesinos who happened not to be there right then. They showed a photo album that they said the military and the police had given them. They forced all the people whose photos were not in the book to be photographed. They said that the next day they were going to start killing people. They also went into some houses and grabbed food, dishes and clothing belonging to the campesinos.
On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, around 5:40 a.m. and up until 10:30 a.m. there was a battle between the paramilitaries and the guerrillas in the populated part of Caraballo, very near the town of Arenas. According to the campesinos, there were wounded on both sides. They also reported that two of the paramilitaries who were killed in the battle were turned over to the police, who took the bodies to the municipal morgue in Turbo. The paramilitaries are still camped in Arenas Bajas with their commanders. From there they have been threatening to kill several people in the neighborhood, including the leaders of our Community, as well as a little girl, YENIFER ANDREA, 11 years old, who has also been threatened.
On Sunday, November 18, 2012, in the morning, soldiers attached to the 17th Brigade, headquartered in Carepa, went up to several campesinos who live in the district of San José, asking them for the telephone numbers of the leaders of the Community, especially for Germán Graciano, a member of the Internal Council of our Community. Paramilitary commanders had threatened him by telephone several days ago. When they could not get any information from the people, they offered them money if they would obtain the telephone numbers of Germán Graciano and other leaders of the Internal Council of our Community.
The situation is getting worse and worse and, faced with that, government agencies have done nothing but keep quiet. The paramilitaries patrol openly around the towns in our community. Every day we see more and more evidence of the protection provided to paramilitarism by government agents. Their control is total. They threaten to kill us, saying that they are going to wipe us out. That, then, paramilitary terror, is the government’s policy.
Confronted with these facts, we reaffirm our principles of life and we will not give in. We believe in the most important choice for one who walks in peace; that is life, that is our choice and we will not back away from that choice for anything.
We ask for national and international solidarity in the face of this situation, because we know that many people in the world believe in these principles of solidarity and dignity.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSÉ DE APARTADÓ
November 20, 2012