The latest message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
While the national government is reciting speeches that hide and cover up the true reality that we experience every day and to which the Peace Community and the surrounding population are constantly subjected, the government, with the greatest arrogance, defies the entire international community that for more than sixteen years has tried to end the barbarity and persecution against our Peace Community.
With humiliating viciousness, the highest levels of the government disregard numerous decisions of the Constitutional Court, as well as the resolutions of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, and the warnings of the International Criminal Court. In effect, the Constitutional Court, in Order #164/12, referring to compliance with its Decision T-1025/07, gave precise orders to the government regarding the following: review of the actions by the courts in relation to crimes committed against the Community; reaching agreement on how the armed forces could be present in the area without creating risks for the civilian population; and the consideration and protection of the rights of the Peace Community.
These court orders were oriented toward undoing the process of discord between the Peace Community and governmental institutions, discord that has lasted more than eight years. In spite of that, the orders of the honorable Constitutional Court were a failure. The government disobeyed them again and again, in a manner both repeated and contumacious. All of that was evidenced after several meetings with the highest levels of the government, carrying out the mandate of the Constitutional Court. After six months of meetings with the highest levels of the government, there was no compliance at all by the government.
Once again the government supports all of those violations of the Constitution and laws, as an example for its subordinates. The government’s refusal to comply with the Constitution and the laws results in the continuation of the rupture. Our dignity and our rights continue to be trampled upon and they cry out for justice.
The events that we continue to lay before humanity and history are as follows:
On Friday, June 14, 2013, in Nuevo Antioquia, several well-known paramilitaries came up to the residents of the region and they announced that they were going to invade the Peace Community because, according to the paramilitaries, the Community had done a lot of harm when members had complained internationally about their relationship with the armed forces. They said that alias “SOPA” had been ordered by his superiors to attack the Peace Community and that they were waiting until the accompanying internationals were out of the Community settlement to carry out a massacre in coordination with the armed forces.
On Saturday June 15, 2013, in Nuevo Antioquia again, the paramilitaries announced that they were going to carry out a massacre against the Peace Community. They also announced that a campesino named Ángel Eusebio Graciano would be hunted down and killed. He has suffered two recent attempts on his life that he has managed to escape.
On that same Saturday June 15, 2013, the soldiers at the military base in San José arrested a young man, Luis Albeiro Correa Borja, who lives in the urban part of San José. They accused him of collaborating with the guerrillas and of setting off a bomb that exploded in San José on June 7, 2013.
On Sunday, June 16, 2013, around 9:30 a.m. and until 11:00 a.m. there was a confrontation between the Army and the FARC guerrillas in the town of La Esperanza.
On Thursday, June 20, 2013, residents of the towns of Arenas Altas and La Cristalina, in the district of San José, received phone calls from someone who identified himself as alias “COFLAS”, a demobilized FARC guerrilla. He warned that even though he was responsible for the area, as to the bomb exploded on June 7, 2013 in the urban part of San José, they had already planned a frame-up accusing the residents of the area of being responsible for the bombing. He said that he was under pressure by the military to show results.
On Monday, July 8, 2013, around 8:30 a.m. in the town of La Esperanza, a group of paramilitaries burst into the property of a campesino named Reinaldo Cardona, asking for him. He was not at home. The paramilitaries insisted that he had escaped from them and they were coming for him. They were accusing him of knowing where the guerrillas were in the area and that he was an accomplice in the killing of soldiers on Thursday, May 30, 2013. They said that his house was almost destroyed in the confrontation and that they had taken two phone cards belonging to the family When they went back to Nuevo Antioquia they detained a campesino from the area, called him names, and made him carry the loads that they had been carrying.
On that same Monday, July 8, 2013, around 3:00 p.m. this group of paramilitaries went to the school and health center in the town of La Esperanza next to the Community’s settlement there. The well-known paramilitaries José Adelmo Osorno Mejía, alias “Panelo” and a demobilized FARC guerrilla, alias “Majute”, a paramilitary commander, were part of the group. “Majute” was in the Army’s 17th Brigade for a long time.
On Saturday, July 13, 2013, military troops that were in the town of La Unión went into the home of member of our Peace Community’s Internal Council and demanded that the residents leave. They insisted that they were not on their own property but that the property belonged to the government.
Between July 15 and 17, 2013, There were fierce battles between paramilitaries and FARC guerrillas in the town of La Hoz, part of the district of San José. Several campesino families were threatened by the paramilitaries and forced to leave their homes.
On Saturday, July 20, 2013, the news media reported the death of a guerrilla and the capture of another in the town of Rodoxalí, part of the district of San José de Apartadó, as a result of the combat between the Army and the FARC guerrillas.
On Monday, July 22, 2013, around 1:00 p.m. and for a space of several minutes, there were overflights of military helicopters that were escorting small antinarcotics planes that were fumigating in the towns of Mulatos and Resbalosa. The spray of the poison affected the families’ food crops and the water in these towns was also contaminated. Dead fish were found on the surface of the Mulatos River.
On Friday, July 26, 2013, several campesinos from the district of San José came up to members of the Community to tell them that the Army and the Attorney General’s Office are advancing prosecutions through frame-ups against the people in the area. They are trying to convict them of responsibility for the bomb that was exploded last June 7, 2013 in the urban part of San José. Several soldiers were seriously injured.
On Saturday, July 27, 2013, a family in the town of La Cristalina, which is part of the district of San José, was displaced. They fled because of threats by soldiers who told them that it would be better if they left the area or they could not be responsible for their lives.
On Monday, July 29, 2013, around 3:20 p.m., officers of the National Police accosted John Fredy Usuga, a member of our Peace Community and Coordinator for the town of Arenas Altas, a settlement of the Peace Community, while he drove a bus from Apartadó to San José. After stopping the vehicle, they immediately demanded Usuga’s documents and ordered him to get out of the bus. They said they had a warrant for his arrest. Members of the Community and some internationals who provide accompaniment and who were accompanying them at the time interceded for him and, after a few minutes, they set him free.
In the last few weeks the well-known paramilitary alias “GUACHIPIN” has been seen in the midst of the troops that patrol in the towns in the district of San José.
We apply to the unquenchable solidarity of people in this country and the world to urge the government to respect the Constitution and the laws, and to end the barbarity and persecution against our Peace Community.
We reaffirm our principles of life and dignity to build a more just world and we will not give in to those who sow the seeds of death.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
August 1, 2013
(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)