(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
San José de Apartadó, February 28, 2018, 12:34 pm
Once more our Peace Community is reporting to the country and to the world on the assaults that have victimized us in the last few days, following the attack carried out on December 29th when they tried to kill members of our Community’s Internal Council, taking care to make it look like an ordinary mugging. Ever since then the paramilitaries have not stopped leaving threatening messages all over the place and showing off their power, constantly riding their motorcycles past the entrance to San Josecito, carrying very visible weapons, firing shots and bragging that there is no government authority that controls them or pursues them. Their names are: Elías Hidalgo, Ricardo David, Esneider Góez, Wilson Ortiz, John Edison Góez, Luis Yair Úsuga, alias “Peluso”, alias “Chimbila”, alias “Felipe”, many of them recruited by “Felipe” and “Majute”.
Already before the attack on December 29, a neighbor from the area told a member of our Community that the prosecutors were collecting testimony intended to connect GERMÁN GRACIANO POSSO, our Community’s Legal Representative, with alias “Tiro”, a FARC guerrilla who did not demobilize and is now part of the FARC dissidence. That story, completely false, was invented by Colonel GERMÁN ROJAS DÍAZ when he was the Commander of the 17th Brigade. These days the paramilitaries have latched onto that phony story to continue hunting down Germán Graciano to kill him. That in itself reconfirms the close coordination between the military, the paramilitaries, and the prosecutors. In the week of February 15, 2018, a paramilitary commented to another member of our Community that the prosecutors and the paramilitaries are continuing to work on that cooked-up story, hoping to build a criminal charge against Germán and our Community.
In the week of February 15, 2018, in the District (corregimiento) of Currulao, the paramilitary commander in the San José area, alias “Majute”, convened a meeting of cattle buyers and sellers to demand that the cattle that are bought and sold have evidence of vaccination and registration and that all sales be under paramilitary control. In that meeting he tried to make them believe that they (the paramilitaries) had not had anything to do with the attack on our Peace Community on December 29, in spite of the fact that several of the paramilitaries who had taken part in the crime, such as alias “Felipe”, commander of the San José network and alias “El Gato” (Ricardo David), were present at the meeting. At that same meeting new death threats were made against the children of Ernesto Guzmán, who was murdered in La Esperanza because he didn’t want to sell his farm to the paramilitaries. Now his children are being pursued because they continue to maintain ownership of the farm. One of them, JUAN DE LA CRUZ, was wounded in an attack on his life last year.
On February 18 and February 19, 2018, our Community was preparing for the anniversary of the terrible massacre that took place on February 21, 2015. When the delegations were starting to arrive at the Peace Village in Mulatos Medio, the paramilitaries came around several times to the entrance to the Village and to the Mulatos River. They were uniformed and carrying weapons and several delegations saw them and interpreted their presence as a threat against the Community and as an attempt to interfere with the memorial ceremony. On Friday, February 23, when the delegations were starting to return from Mulatos, the paramilitaries called a meeting with the people connected with the community action group in the Mulatos area. They used those meetings to insist that our Community ought to be evicted from the Peace Village and that the property ought to be taken over by force.
During the night of February 22, 2018, when most of our Peace Community was in Mulatos for the commemoration of the February 21, 2005 massacre, several people who were guarding the settlement at San Josecito could see a drone that was flying over the settlement, a kind of espionage that might be used to prepare new attacks.
On Sunday, February 25, 2018, anyone passing by the urban part of San José during the night could see that there were a lot of people drinking beer and gathered in several bars. Meanwhile, you could hear shots being fired in different parts of the town and you could see many of the young people who are connected with the paramilitaries, young people who regularly carry their weapons out in the open.
Today, February 28, 2018, our Community has been told that Luis Yair Úsuga, a member of the paramilitary organization, has called all of the residents of La Unión to a meeting with the paramilitaries on next Friday, March 2.
Ever since the attack on December 29, we have observed that no authority is willing to control the paramilitaries and they are silent when anyone mentions that they act with impunity and immunity. Our strength is in our identification with our principles and with the moral support that we received from more and more people and communities in this country and in the whole world; people who repudiate the workings of this Paramilitary-Government. Once again we express our gratitude to those who accompany us.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
February 28, 2018