Interview with Gildardo Tuberquia, a member of the Internal Council of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
What happened in the paramilitary attack? How did you manage to capture them?
What happened on Friday was something that has been advertised for a long time. Ever since December 2016, when the guerrillas started leaving some parts of the territory, the paramilitaries started to occupy those areas. They started to go to the towns (veredas) where they had not been before. They called the communities to meetings, pressuring the presidents of the Community Boards and started telling the civilian population that they wanted to help make sure the communities would get benefits from the government. They also said that they would kill the “snitches” that didn’t go along. Just two weeks ago we showed in a report that they had a plan to kill the leaders of our community and one of those was Germán Graciano Posso.
What did the paramilitaries expect to gain by harming Germán?
They have been trying to kill us off on many occasions. In the last 20 years, 300 people from our community have been murdered, many just like Germán. Paramilitaries and guerrillas both have believed that if they killed the leaders of the Community, it would expire, but that is not possible. If they want the Community to expire they would have to kill all of us. Look, they have killed 13 members of Germán’s family and nevertheless, he doesn’t look for revenge. That’s why he is part of a Community of Peace. The fact that the Community supports him, that we express our solidarity after the attack, that makes him feel stronger.
Why are the paramilitaries so interested in taking over your land?
We are located 12 kilometers from Apartadó, which is thick with businessmen, banana growers, merchants and cattlemen. Ours is a strategic location which is also rich in water, fertile soil, coal and even gold. All of the killings, the displacement, and the bombings is this community has been because we are standing on top of big bucks. What they have done is buy farms with straw men, raise cattle and fence in those ranches. So, little by little, they have been expanding in the territory. In recent years they have built houses in the areas where they have bought land, and so they are buying the families. In the Peace Community we have not accepted those offers. The families know they are paramilitaries. We oppose them, so they attack us.