There’s No Arguing with the Facts: Reports on Paramilitaries from the Peace Community

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Sent by cdpsanjose on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 8:32 a.m.

Once again our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó sees the necessity of appealing to the country and the world to denounce the latest aggressions that we have suffered on the part of agents and agencies of the government and of groups manipulated by that governmental power.  The most recent events are as follows:

Our Community has been able to establish that leading commanders of the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade are distorting reports about the accompaniment that humanitarian groups from other countries are furnishing to the members of our Community who are at high risk.  This reveals an intent to stigmatize international accompaniment, using the pretext that it gives the victimizers a bad image. But their goal is to leave the victims unprotected so that they can carry out their plans for pillage and extermination. They want to neutralize the protests of the people from different countries in the world that still have fundamental moral principles.  On some occasions, the soldiers have concocted episodes that are absolutely false in order to discredit our international accompaniment.

On Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 7:00 a.m. and for several minutes there was combat between soldiers from the Army’s 17th Brigade and paramilitaries who were present in the town of La Esperanza in the District of San José de Apartadó, just a few meters from our Peace Community’s settlement. At 4:00 p.m. an Army helicopter picked up three paramilitaries, apparently captured, one of them wounded, and also a considerable amount of equipment and munitions, mines, knapsacks, blankets, regulations and manuals belonging to the AGC, medications, etc. but no firearms.  This fact is in contrast with the constant declarations from the government, the Armed Forces and the media, to the effect that “There are no longer any paramilitaries.” It proves the old proverb that “You can’t argue with the facts”.

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, military troops entered the private property of our Peace Community in the town of La Esperanza, camping in the community’s spaces used for work and family.  The Community requested that the troops leave the area, but a Captain, whose last name was Sanches, insisted that they were there on the orders of their superiors and to carry out a court order. The orders of the Constitutional Court and the protective orders issued by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights in relation to the Peace Community actually require that the Colombian government protect the Community, but that protection has to be discussed with the Community itself and is not to be imposed at any time. We have already stated on several occasions that the presence of the Armed Forces increases our risk instead of protecting us.  Nevertheless, the government’s agents dare to defy and trample the Constitution and the laws.

On Friday, February 17, 2017, the President’s Councilor for Human Rights, Dr. Paula Gaviria, arrived in a helicopter at the town of La Esperanza in the District of San José de Apartadó, accompanied by high-ranking military commanders, the Mayor of Apartadó, and other officials. In the public ceremony, members of the community councils were denying the presence of paramilitary groups in the area, contrary to all of the accumulated evidence. They criticized the complaints our Community has made about the paramilitary activities, even though there were some statements of gratitude for the courage of our Community is denouncing what the majority of the people are afraid to denounce, so not to put their lives at high risk.  Nevertheless, the media shamefully ignored those statements.

On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, which was the 12th anniversary of the hideous massacre of eight of our sisters and brothers in the towns of Mulatos and Resbalosa, numerous people sent us messages of solidarity in memory of our victims.  More than a hundred members of our Community went up to the towns of Mulatos and Resbalosa to perform religious ceremonies of memory and to reflect on the legacy of our martyrs.

On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, once again we verified the presence of paramilitary groups in the town of Arenas Altas, District of San José de Apartadó, and we verified their travel to the town of La Unión.  They have been fully present for several weeks already in the town next to Arenas Bajas, without the government doing anything to protect the civilian population.

On Thursday, February 23, 2017, military commanders at the 17th Brigade went on the radio to accuse our Peace Community of opposing the passage over our property of the illegal road that the paramilitaries are building between Nuevo Antioquia, Rodoxalí, and La Esperanza.  They claim that we are “opposed to progress”.

Even though the lies and evil actions continue to be the common currency of the government’s policies in our bloody region, we keep on resisting, because of moral principles that we cannot abandon.  Because of those principles, we continue to be identified with numerous cloaks of solidarity that, from different corners of the world and from Colombia, encourage us not to back down.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

February 24, 2017

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