PARAMILITARIES: GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED CRIMINALS
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Once again our Peace Community finds itself obligated to report to all humanity the current happenings that prove the connivance between government institutions and the paramilitaries. Their actions threaten us and spread fear and terror in our community and among the civilian population nearby. The most recent events are as follows:
On Friday, February 8, 2013, around 8:30 p.m. there was an armed confrontation in the urban part of San José. Once again the civilian population is used as a human shield.
On Sunday, February 10, 2013, around 7:25 a.m. shots and detonations of explosives were heard once again in the surroundings near the urban part of San José.
On the days February 11 to February 16, 2013, according to information provided by the campesinos who live there, a number of trucks carrying paramilitaries passed through sites where there are always military and police checkpoints, but the trucks were not detected. They were coming from their bases in Piedras Blancas, the Zunguito Highway and Nueva Antioquia, on their way from Chocó Province.
On Thursday, February 14, 2013, around 9:30 a.m. there was a battle between soldiers camped at the military base in San José and the FARC guerrillas. According to reports from the local media, two soldiers were wounded. That same day, around 12:35 p.m., two helicopters flew over the area. While one of them picked up the two wounded, the other one raked the area with machine gun fire, dropping P50 caliber bullets into the homes of civilians. A number of campesinos have expressed their concern about this, because it is a risk to their lives. While this was going on, Colombian Army soldiers approached several campesinos’ houses and asked them if they did not have any concern about their children, which the campesinos understood to be a threat against them by the Armed Forces.
On Monday, February 18, 2013, at about 10:30 a.m., a group of heavily armed paramilitaries entered the home of a member of our Peace Community in the town of Arenas Bajas. They said they were going to displace all of the campesinos in the area, as well as all the families of our Community. They said they already had it all planned with the Armed Forces. That same day there were shots fired in the direction of the place known as El Barro in the town of Mulatos.
On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at about 3:00 a.m., a paramilitary group entered a home located in the town of Miramar, in the district of San José. They kicked in the door, broke all the dishes and tore up the family’s clothing. For an hour and a half, they threatened to kill an adolescent girl named “ROSALBA GONZALEZ”. She is 14 years old. They tied a rope and a knife around her neck and forced her to leave the region, saying that if they saw her around there again, they would kill her.
In the same place, they started threatening our Peace Community again, saying that that sonofabitching Peace Community was a bunch of guerrillas that they were going to exterminate and showing a list of people from the district whom they planned to kill. That same day the group of paramilitaries went to the base at Piedras Blancas and on the way back they grabbed a well-known campesino nicknamed “CHILAPO”. They tortured him, ripping out part of his nose with a pliers and they made him walk with the pliers hanging down. Besides that, they hit him in the head several times with a club. After torturing him, they made him dig his own grave. Some of the civilians realized that they were planning to kill him and they interceded for him, so that the paramilitaries let him go a few minutes later. They freed him near the town of Caracolí in the district of Piedras Blancas, Carepa Municipality.
On Thursday, February 21, 2013, a group of paramilitaries showed up at the edge of the town of La Esperanza, exactly at the point known as Los Arteaga. They were coming from the paramilitary base in Nuevo Antioquia, patrolling through the towns of Playa Larga, Porvenir and La Esperanza. In the last town there is a settlement of our Peace Community.
On Friday, February 22, 2013, around 10:30 a.m., there were apparently some confrontations between Colombian Army troops and the FARC guerrillas in the district of Los Mandarinos. We heard from the campesinos that two soldiers were killed.
On Saturday, February 23, 2013, at about 10:00 a.m., in the town of La Esperanza, a group of paramilitaries entered the home of a campesino named CRISTOBAL. They threatened him in front of his family and warned that it would be better if he got out of the area because they didn’t want to see him any more around there. That same day the same group of paramilitaries entered a number of homes in the town of Porvenir, next to the town of La Esperanza and stole all their food. The well-known paramilitary alias “PANELO” was part of that group. On that same day at about 8:30 p.m. a member of our Peace Community received a phone call from somebody who did not identify himself but warned that a massacre was being planned against the Peace Community, that they planned to kill the leaders and that everyone should watch out for their children and not let them out in the road. If not, the children would be murdered along with the others.
On Sunday, February 24, 2013, at about 3:50 p.m., a paramilitary group arrived at the town of La Esperanza at a farm owned by our Peace Community. They were asking for the leaders of the Peace Community. The presence of the paramilitaries, not just in the town of Porvenir but also in the town of La Esperanza has placed the families in a confined situation. Two of those families are part of our Peace Community and they are forbidden to leave their houses. According to the military commanders, they have searched the area and they deny that there are any paramilitaries present there.
On Monday, February 25, 2013, around 7 a.m., a humanitarian committee from our Peace Community headed for the towns of Porvenir and La Esperanza to rescue the families who were being detained and threatened by the paramilitaries. We hold the national government responsible for anything that happens to our humanitarian committee up there.
Our outcries to the government about events like this have all been in vain. They pretend to be both blind and deaf, avoiding all responsibility and allowing the paramilitaries to act like government-sponsored criminals.
We are turning to national and international solidarity, to all of the people and organizations that keep and respect international humanitarian rights with all their hearts. We ask that they urge Colombian authorities to protect the life and existence of our Peace Community and of our neighbors.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
February 25, 2013
(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)