Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
July 13, 2018 at 9:49 a.m. (read original)

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

San José de Apartadó
July 13, 2018

President of Colombia,
Bogotá, D.C.

With all due respect,

As your second term in office will end in just a few days, we would like, in all sincerity, to give you a brief summary of what we have lived and experienced during these eight years in which you have served as President and Head of State, and also looking back at the time in which you served as Minister of Defense in the administration of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez.

During your term, President Santos, we turned to you on 20 different occasions, making use of the constitutional right of petition, to request that you, pay urgent attention to the very clear obligations that the Constitution imposes on the Head of State. We asked that you intervene directly to halt the network of crimes against humanity that your Army, above all the 17th Brigade and other units, united in action with the paramilitaryorganizations, has perpetrated and still continues to perpetrate against our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and against all of the campesinos that live in this area. You always dodged those petitions and ordered your legal officials to refer them back to the victimizers themselves: the Ministry of Defense and its various units that claimed reliance on rules that are contrary to the Constitution and that depend on the scheme that is universally known to be illegal, that of converting the victimizer into its own investigator and judge.

Nobody is unaware that your evasive policy toward a network of horrendous and systematic crimes, covered up by the self-absolving conclusions of your own subordinates, implicates the President against an international community with plenty of evidence. For many decades now, the international community has hammered out treaties and conventions to protect the victims of these horrors. So you, President Santos, are responsible to history and to the whole world for hundreds of horrendous crimes that have tried to exterminate our Peace Community; crimes such as extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, sexual abuses, massacres, forced displacement, torture, abductions, unlawful arrests and illegal and arbitrary prosecutions, thousands of threats, announcements of planned extermination, hunger blockades, destruction and burning of homes and crops, armed robberies of belongings needed for subsistence, profanation and hiding of corpses, pillage, theft of domestic animals, principally beasts of burden, the only means that a campesino has to market his few crops, theft of the tools for his farm work, campaigns of slander, defamation and stigmatization using the mass media, unavailability, manipulation and corruption of judicial and disciplinary investigations,general impunity, and lack of any protection by the legal system.

Even though the Peace Community has made use of civil rights actions on certain occasions and obtained the support of the Constitutional Court, which has issued three Decisions and two Orders in favor of the Community, you yourself and the agencies of your government are in contempt of all the Orders of the highest Court in the land, as well as of other Orders included in other Decision of the same Court. Those include the ones that refer to prohibiting the maintenance of military and police units in the midst of the civilian population in areas of conflict, or those that forbid the President from making public pronouncements against groups and communities, resorting to false reports or referring to illegal registrations. The government’s contempt for all of those regulations and constitutional decisions has always led us to believe that the “Rule of Law” constitutes more of a propagandistic fiction that is used to cover up contrary realities.

Throughout your term, as well as throughout President Uribe’s term, we were requesting that we be furnished the names, ranks, serial numbers, and units of all of the members of the Armed Forces that were present at the dates, times, and places where the crimes were committed, but your government always refused to furnish that information, and when the Constitutional Court repeatedly ordered it, you disobeyed, mocking the highest Court in the land. And then, close to the end of your term, in December of 2017, the Court ordered it again, giving you two months to carry out its order and once again you refused to obey the Court’s order. That kind of contempt is evidence of only one purpose: to maskall of the criminals that are part of your government and keep their actions clandestine, in the worst paramilitary style.

So you are leaving the Presidency with an enormous debt to humanity. We hope the day will come when honorable international tribunals carry out justice in those thousands of crimes, and prosecute your behavior in participating in them through your complicity, connivance, support, tolerance, and protection of those acting for you.

In this context, we are embarrassed by the distinction given to you by your receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, without your ever having made any admission of fault in these and many more thousands of crimes against the fundamental rights of the Colombian people. These crimes were perpetrated by your subordinates, protected by your attitude of refusing even to investigate them and worse, exonerating them ideologically of all guilt, as happened in the statements made during the “Peace Process”, which were later degraded enormously.

With great sorrow for our country,

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J.
Signer of the petitions

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