The very first time I visited the Peace Community in San José de Apartadó, in the summer of 2004, we met with members of the Internal Council, workers on various projects, and members who related their experiences. They told about being held up on the road by paramilitaries and soldiers, their food and medicine stolen. A young man told us how he had been taken to the 17th Brigade Headquarters and beaten up. They showed us the colorful stones that memorialize the people who have been murdered. But the most heartbreaking of all the stories was Conrado’s. In an even voice he described how he and his wife and her mother had been walking, the grandmother carrying the little girl. He told how there was no reason for the soldiers to shoot and how he begged them not to, but they shot the little girl right out of her grandmother’s arms, and how badly injured she was and how she died before she could receive any medical help.
Here is the letter Conrado and his wife have sent to the President of Colombia:
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
San José de Apartadó, Antioquia, August 23, 2013
Dr. JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN
President of Colombia
DR. EDUARDO MONTEALEGRE LYNNET
Attorney General of Colombia
DR. ALEJANDRO ORDÓÑEZ MALDONALDO
Inspector General of Colombia
DR. JUAN CARLOS PINZÓN
Minister of Defense of Colombia
DR. FERNANDO CARRILLO
Minister of the Interior of Colombia
SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE
COLOMBIAN COUNCIL OF STATE
SUPREME JUDICIAL COUNCIL
Hon. Director of the DIAN (Directorate of National Taxes and Customs)
We, CONRADO DAVID DAVID and NOELIA TUBEQUIA SALAS, turn to the highest authorities in the government to demand honest justice in the murder of our daughter MILEIDY DAVID TUBERQUIA, three years old, executed by members of the Colombian Army on March 18, 2003, in the town of La Cristalina in the district of San José, Apartadó municipality, Antioquia province.
The Administrative Tribunal of the Turbo Circuit, on March 31, 2011, issued its Decision No. 025 in File # 0583733310012006-00089-00, which ordered the Colombian Ministry of Defense to pay damages for the injuries caused to our family because of that crime. Those whom we have empowered to bring this case on our behalf have informed us that the Defense Ministry has already made available the payment ordered by that court.
That monetary compensation, as well as the pardon ceremonies ordered by that same court, but which the Defense Ministry still has not been carried out, even though the judge has instituted proceedings for its accomplishment, along with the obstacles interposed, all make us think that that is not going to be accomplished either. The ceremony has now been put off for the third time. The most recent one was set for last July 31, 2013, and on the day before, we were informed that, by order of the Commandant of the Colombian Army, the ceremony would be cancelled, even though, at this writing, we don’t know the reasons. The failure of compensation looks like one more act of aggression, as it coincides with the total absence of punishment for those responsible and the absence of public confirmation of the truth and the rebuilding of the victim’s dignity and the dignity of her community, terribly victimized for more than 16 years, plus the absence of plans to guarantee that there will be no repetition of that kind of barbarity.
We can do no less than be scandalized and repudiate once again the systematic impunity of this government whose soldiers have committed thousands of crimes against the innocent civilian population, when we see that the very agencies of justice know very well the identities of those who were responsible for the crime, but the exonerations and the legal coordination among the different institutions have not functioned to furnish prompt and effective justice.
In effect, the administrative file itself sets forth clearly the names of those responsible for the “Operation Mandrake”, assigned to the DANTA 6 COMPANY, from the ARUHACOS COUNTER-GUERRILLA BATALLION NO.26, a company commanded by Captain NEL MAGIN CÁRDENA DÍAZ, accompanied in that operation by the following soldiers: JAIRO ALFREDO SÁENZ TEHERÁN, JOSÉ ALIRIO GARCÍA RIVERA, MANUEL ÁNGEL GIRALDO VALENCIA, JUAN POSADA GIL, CARLOS ROMERO VEGA, Corporal FREDY PARRA RAMÍREZ, Sergeant MOSQUERA, and 2d Lieutenant VALDÉS RAMÍREZ. We ask ourselves why they have not been punished after such a horrendous crime, just as their superiors who gave them the order and evidently designed the operation in an irresponsible and criminal manner, without concern for the civilian population. These would include Brigadier General PAUXELINO LATORRE GAMBOA, commandant of the 17th Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel JORGE ENRIQUE MALDONADO ESCOBAR, in charge of operations for that Brigade. We ask ourselves why, after such a horrendous crime as the murder of a little girl only three years old, the government has taken no measure to guarantee that this kind of barbarous action will not be repeated, given that in the last ten years the barbarity of the armed forces in the area of our peace community has never ceased. It is evident that the impunity that has protected the perpetrators of those crimes is the principle explanation for the crimes that have continued to take place.
As the parents of this innocent victim, at this time our consciences will not allow us to collect the monetary damages, since they are accompanied by a total absence of truth and justice and of guarantees that this will not happen again to the people in our Peace Community or to our geographic and social neighbors. That is why we will keep that sum of money frozen, waiting for the honest justice demanded by the country’s Constitution and by international law.
We are urgently demanding compliance with the Constitution, punishment for those responsible, restoration of the dignity of the victim and her community and a guarantee that there will be no repetition of such barbarous and criminal practices. To do otherwise would be to consider human life, and in our case, the life of a little girl who had only just begun to live, as a paltry piece of merchandise that could be valued with a sum of money.
CONRADO DAVID DAVID
NOELIA TUBERQUIA SALAS