(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Once again our Peace Community is reporting new horrifying actions against our Peace Community and against the people who live in our geographic and social surroundings. The joint actions between the military and the paramilitaries in the region continue openly. The more we beg the highest levels of the government to take measures, the more they remain blind, deaf and schizophrenic. The events are as follows:
On Monday, July 7, 2014, at about 9:00 a.m., a group of soldiers parked for several minutes in front of the entrance to the settlement of our Peace Community at San Josecito. Besides being the Community’s private property, it is the place where we live and work. When the members of the Community noticed the presence of the soldiers, the Community went out to ask them to leave. One of them whose nametag said ROJAS, in a brazen and abusive manner, treated the members of the Community as if we were armed actors just like them. ROJAS identified himself as a member of the Peace Community and said that he was just like the members of our Peace Community. Besides that, he claimed that he was there because he wanted to greet the internationals who accompany us and that the soldiers were there to make contact with them. Our Peace Community rejects what the Army says about us, and at the same time we reminded them that that our private spaces are authorized by the Constitution and the laws. They are not spaces for meetings and exchanges of information with any armed actors, such as Army soldiers.
On Wednesday, July 9, 2014, at about 4:00 p.m. and for a space of two hours, a group of soldiers barged into the settlement of the Peace Community in the town of La Unión in a disrespectful manner. In spite of the fact that the members of our Community asked them to leave, as it is private property, the soldiers continued making themselves at home in our houses. When they were asked to identify themselves, some of them said they were from the 24th Mobile Brigade and others said they were from the 25th Mobile Brigade. After we insisted that they leave, because they were violating and disrespecting private property authorized by the Constitution, some of the soldiers, using vulgar language, threatened that they could come back at any minute, since they also live in the region. These claims are a clear message to the effect that they plan to come back at any moment, bringing paramilitaries with them.
On Saturday, July 19, 2014, the N285 edition of La Chiva de Urabá (Urabá News) quoted the new Commander of the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade, GERMAN ROJAS DIAS, as saying, “we are going to carry out a special project in the towns of San José de Apartadó to take back some spaces that have been lost”. According to ROJAS, the lost spaces are the settlements of our Peace Community. We understand this message as a clear manifestation of intent to exterminate our Community and our system. German Rojas, who previously served as the commander of the Voltígeros, attached to the 17th Brigade, has been responsible for frame-ups and persecution of members of our Peace Community, besides offering juicy rewards for anyone who could close down the Community.
On Sunday, July 20, 2014, around 7:00 p.m., a member of our internal council was making some purchases in a public establishment in the bus terminal in Apartadó. He was confronted by an individual in civilian clothes, who, in a frenzy, yelled: “Gringo sons of bitches . . . Do they think they can accompany you people all the time?” Then he started kicking the basket the member of our Community was using to carry his groceries. The fellow then left the establishment, saying, “bodyguards”, referring to the internationals who accompany us.
On Monday, July 21, 2014, around 4:00 p.m. in the downtown of Apartadó, an individual in civilian clothes who identified himself as an active duty member of the Colombian Army confronted a person who lives in San José. He insisted that he knew several residents of San José and that “that sonofabitching Peace Community. Its hour has come. We are coordinating with the paras (paramilitaries) to exterminate that sonofabitching Peace Community.”
In the last few weeks, the paramilitaries have been going around to people in the San José district, trying to set up meetings with the in the town of Rodoxalí. In spite of our reports and complaints, the paramilitaries continue in complete control. They patrol, they force the civilian population to meet with them, and the Armed Forces protect them.
In spite of all of these military-paramilitary activities against our Peace Community, we reaffirm the principles of our way of life. The memory of our dead gives us the strength and the morale to live our daily life, faced with a government that is criminal and shielded by a system of absolute impunity.
At the same time, we are thankful for the national and international solidarity that has always accompanied us.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
July 22, 2014
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó