(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Source: Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
Paramilitarism, supposedly “demobilized”, is breaking out everywhere, and its ties with the government are undeniable
• Ever since mid-June of 2014, the paramilitary structure that has continued to be active in Batata (Tierralta district, Córdoba province) has been threatening to kill WALTER SERPA. Walter is a member of our Peace Community and is its Coordinator in the town of Alto Joaquín in Tierralta, Córdoba. The paramilitaries there have been going around showing a list of people to be killed. Two of those on the list are from the same town. They say Walter is responsible for coordinating the use of agricultural machinery with the guerrillas, but those basic machines for growing food crops are the ones that our Peace Community acquired several years ago to support displaced people who were returning to the Community.
• On Friday, June 20, 2014, several shots were heard in the town of Arenas Bajas. According to reports from the campesinos who live there, a group of paramilitaries were seen patrolling the area.
• On Monday, June 30, 2014, a group of soldiers camped in the settlement of our Peace Community in the town of La Esperanza. That violates our private property and especially the areas where members of the Peace Community live and work, places where no weapons can be permitted.
• On Thursday, July 3, 2014, at about 12:00 noon, the acknowledged paramilitary OVIDIO TORRES AREIZA came into the settlement at San Josecito, which is the private property of the Peace Community. While he was walking through the settlement, you could see that he was carrying a large knife. Ovidio, who has worked for the Army’s 17th Brigade, took part in the theft of a computer from the Peace Community on June 30, 2006. It was later proved that he had been induced to commit the crime by money offered by paramilitaries attached to the Brigade, including Ovidio Cardona Borja and Elkin Tuberquia who told him that the Brigade was interested in getting the computer. They offered him an attractive payment but they were later disappointed when they found nothing that would help them put together their frame-up schemes.
• On Saturday, July 5, 2014, around 5:30 a.m. there were some powerful explosions in San José de Apartadó, followed by at least 30 minutes of shooting and machine-gun fire. The life of a civilian who lives there was put at risk by the gunfire, since a bullet just missed him.
• On Monday, July 7, 2014, in the urban part of San José, the soldiers blew up an explosive device apparently as a controlled explosion. Many of the people who live there insist that those explosives are being placed there and blown up by the soldiers themselves, because on a number of occasions the people have seen the soldiers setting up the devices. This same Monday, July 7, a resident of San José was stopped by a soldier who was enraged and told him that the Army plans to buy a parcel of land from Sr. Jaime García to build a military base next to the principal settlement of the Peace Community in San Josecito. He said that if Sr. García refuses to sell the lot, the whole region would be driven off their land again because people had already had to leave years ago. He said that they would do what it takes to get the land.
• In the last few days the soldiers have been pressuring the campesino he identified, Jaime Garcia, to make him sell his land so they can expand the military base in San José.
• The young man, BUENAVENTURA HOYOS HERNANDEZ, who is protected by interim equitable relief under Colombian law because he was forcibly disappeared on August 31, 2013 in the town of La Hoz in the district of San José de Apartadó by members of an illegal armed group, obviously acting in connivance and coordination with the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade, has been very quietly and discreetly released. It appears that he has suffered serious trauma in that they had to hide him in a rural area far from the place where he lived. They were afraid that he would talk to anyone who might ask him what had happened to him during his captivity. The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó has been able to verify this information through Buenaventura’s close relatives, but we have not been able to meet with him directly to obtain his testimony because he has refused to talk about his captivity. This demonstrates the serious psychic trauma and the effects of the terror he suffered in his forced disappearance that lasted for many months.
We were convinced that his torturers were acting in close connivance with the Army and we informed the highest government authorities of this crime, including the President himself, whom we begged urgently and repeatedly to order his subordinates to put an end to this forced disappearance and investigate and punish those responsible. We received no answer at all from the Chief of State, in spite of the long period of the disappearance, and we consider that the government has taken on the responsibility for a serious violation of the American Human Rights Convention and numerous international treaties prohibiting the forced disappearance of people and requiring respect for fundamental human rights. Because of that, he should be found guilty and ordered to punish those of his agents who are responsible and make reparation for the injuries that the victim, his family and his community have suffered, and he should be ordered to take effective measures ensuring that there will be no repetition. Principally, that would require dismantling the paramilitary organization that carried out the crime. That organization continues openly to control the whole area where the crime was carried out and at present they exercise such domination over the people who live there that they have built a road and a housing development to reinforce the rope of submission by the population to their criminal organization.
Our Peace Community again denounces, before the country and the world, a government that gives support with its tolerance and complete absence of punishment and correction to entities and military hierarchies that carry out the forced disappearance of people, that maintain entire communities under terror, placing explosives in their settlements and blaming other forces, that sustains paramilitary control in broad rural areas and overlooks all of their attacks and their permanent violations of human rights. That is the way they keep talking peace and democracy in public and flagrantly contradict it with their own actions. Our Community will not renounce our objectives of peace for everyone, and we refuse to live with armed actors even while they exhibit the labels of legal authority and we will continue denouncing and opposing the criminal policies of those claim falsely that they comply with the Constitution of Colombia.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
July 8, 2014
(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)