[Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator]
A monstrous military and legal operation is being carried out in Urabá these days, in order to find the location of alias “OTONIEL”, the maximum leader of the paramilitaries. All of this has generated massive displacements of the civilian population. In spite of that, the operations and the presence of the government agents have not found the stronghold that belongs to the paramilitaries in the region. That’s because the soldiers continue to be seen patrolling with the paramilitaries in the towns of Rodoxalí, la Hoz, Playa Larga, and las Flores, among others. More than that, the paramilitary leaders have been seen very recently in those locations. Are they really searching for the maximum leader of the paramilitaries, or could it be, more likely, a media show orchestrated by the Armed Forces to conceal the close relationship that they have had for decades in Urabá? What are the soldiers and the paramilitaries trying to hide, while they are generating displacements in the districts of San José and Nuevo Antioquia? Isn’t it more likely that this will create an upheaval of violence, calculated to the millimeter, to take control of the region, banish the inhabitants, and thus exploit the mining that they expect to carry out in the region?
Once again, our Peace Community is making a record of these new events before humanity and history:
On Thursday, April 2, 2015, a well-known paramilitary, alias “TRIBILIN” was seen, accompanied by several other paramilitaries, in the town of Playa Larga in the District of San José. They accosted several of the residents of the area and announced that the military operations had not done anything to them, and said they should take note that paramilitaries have not been disturbed in this area,, and that the operations were on the other side and not against them.
On Wednesday, April 8, 2015, the Community found out about the different communications that the national government has been sending to international organizations that accompany the Community. They mention that the relationship with the Peace Community has improved, and that there has even been a meeting with government agencies, including the Armed Forces and the Peace Community. They were referring to the meeting on November 6, 2014 at the Catholic Diocese in Apartadó. This was a meeting for general communication, or a regional communications meeting which had nothing to do with the Peace Community and in which the Community has no interest in participating. Those meetings are worthless.
On Friday, April 10, 2015, our Peace Community found out that several inhabitants had been displaced because of threats from armed groups. The people lived in the town of la Esperanza, part of the District of San José, and next to the town of Playa Larga where there has been a permanent paramilitary presence.
On Saturday, April 11, 2015, a group of paramilitaries dressed in civilian clothes and carrying weapons and communications equipment went up to several houses belonging to people who live in the town of la Hoz, in the San José District. They threatened the civilians to get them to leave and told them to get out of the town.
On Monday, April 13, 2015, our Community found out about the statements that the 17th Brigade Commander, Colonel German Rojas Días has been making to the communications media. He claims that he has never made any accusation against our Peace Community, forgetting that on September 27, 2014, he called the Peace Community “terrorist bandits” and sang the praises of some pamphlets attacking the Community that the 17th Brigade had circulated in Urabá.
On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at about 2:00 p.m., a group of soldiers were camping on Community property and in the fields belong to families who are part of our Peace Community, and also in the settlement of San Josecito. Several members of our Community were prevented by the soldiers from working in their plantings of subsistence crops. Because of that, members of the Community asked the soldiers to leave, since their presence was keeping people from doing their farm work.
On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at about 8:00 a.m., three members of our Community were going to do some work on their plantings of subsistence crops in the fields owned in common in San Josecito. Once again they were accosted by the military troops who were camped there since April 14, and were kept from doing any work there at all.
On Thursday, April 16, 2015, at about 8:20 a.m., members of our Peace Community, accompanied by several international organizations, headed for the towns of la Hoz and Rodoxalí, part of the District of San José, arriving there after four hours. They intended to verify the serious humanitarian situation that the people there are experiencing. They had found out about the strong presence of paramilitaries there and about the threats they were making against the campesinos in the region because they wanted to get the civilian population, who had slowly been returning to their parcels, out of there. The Community was able to establish the desolation in Rodoxalí where houses are completely empty because the families have been displaced by the threats by members of the Armed Forces on March 22 and 23, 2015.
On that same Thursday, April 16, 2015, at about 8:30 a.m., a group of families from San Josecito, a settlement of our Peace Community, went to a military encampment located a few meters from the homes in the Community. They asked to speak to the officer in command, but they refused to identify him. They just said that they belonged to the 17th Brigade. They claimed that they could be wherever they wanted and do whatever they wanted. The members of our Community replied that this constituted total disrespect for our Community. They have murdered our children, our brothers and sisters, and our parents, but nevertheless, the persecution has no end.
We repeat our absolute commitment to protect our lives and to continue demanding that a government that is deaf and contemptuous respect the integrity of the members of the civilian population in our area. We apply to the national and international solidarity that has sustained us with its moral strength on this road that is full of injustice that has no end. We will keep up our clamor for justice, even if it costs us our very lives. We would prefer anything rather than keep silent.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
April 16, 2015