(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Sent from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
On Sunday, March 27, 2016
Once again our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó wishes to make a record, before the nation and the world, of recent acts of violence that affect us.
• On Sunday, March 20, 2016, at 7:30 a.m. a group of paramilitaries calling themselves the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), about 50 men dressed in camouflage and carrying long guns, entered the town of La Hoz, in the District of San José. Their presence generated terror among the campesino civilian population of that town. They spoke belligerently and claimed that they would be in the area all the time and that nobody would be able to get them to leave.
• On that same Sunday, March 20, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. in the town of El Porvenir in the District of San José a group of paramilitaries showed up at the home of the campesino ELISEO TUBERQUIA, who is the father of seven young children. They tried to intimidate him with their weapons in front of his children and later on they made camp in his house and yard until the next day.
• On Monday, March 21, 2016, in the town of El Porvenir, the same group of paramilitaries entered the home of the campesino CRISTOBAL MESA. They asked for him and when they didn’t find him there, the left a tough message, “We’re going to kill him.” Cristobal had been threatened with death by the paramilitaries on two previous occasions and his name is also on the paramilitaries’ list of people to be killed.
• On that Monday, March 21, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in the town of La Hoz, a group of paramilitaries went up to the home of the campesino WEIMAR CASTRILLON, and they were threatening him. A few minutes later they went to the Community Center where the town school is also located.
• On that same Monday, March 21, 2016, at 1:50 p.m. there was a confrontation, apparently between paramilitaries and FARC guerrillas. There the paramilitaries used the homes of the civilians and also the school for defensive positions, placing the families at great risk. In that combat, one paramilitary was killed and another wounded. Later the family found out that the paramilitaries had stolen food and money from the families.
• On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, once again the paramilitaries showed up at the school in the town of La Hoz. Ranting and raving, they threatened several civilians, calling them collaborators with the guerrillas. Later on there was more combat, apparently between that group of paramilitaries and the FARC guerrillas.
• On Thursday, March 24, 2016, in the town of La Hoz, the paramilitaries went up to the houses of several families who live there. They tortured them, arguing that they were connected to the FARC guerrillas. This has generated the displacement of several families from the town and puts the other families in the region in danger.
• On Saturday, March 26, 2016, in the town of Playa Larga in the District of San José de Apartadó, during the morning, there was a fierce combat, apparently between paramilitaries and FARC guerrillas. These events have caused anxiety and fear for the families in more than six towns in the District of San José de Apartadó.
On March 23 we commemorated 19 years of the existence our Peace Community. We marched to the old location of the district school where we made the public proclamation of the Peace Community on March 23, 1997. We read the text of the declaration; we halted before the ruins of the Educational Center that we had built and that was destroyed by our victimizers; we climbed to the entrance of the cemetery, where we remembered the several hundred of our comrades who have been massacred; once again we watched the videos of historic and unforgettable moments of our course of action and we shared memories of communal inclusion and enjoyment. Once again the backward look at our history of pain and resistance convinced us of the rightness of our struggle and of our breaks with a government that is more and more criminal and corrupt. Nineteen years living in the Peace Community has taught us that weapons are not necessary to build internal democracy and solidarity. Our way of living has been founded on hope and not on tyranny and that is why walking with dignity every day has allowed us to live for years without having to be submissive. These 19 years are the light of hope before a world that is moving away more and more from the most minimal feelings of humanity that ought to be seen in society.
Once again we give thanks to the people and the communities of Colombia and the world that have sustained our resistance with their courageous moral support.