Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
July 5, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. (read original)
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Once again our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó finds it necessary to turn to the country and to the world to make a record of the latest events by which this paramilitary government has victimized us. It is more and more deaf and blind as it legitimizes and acts together with its paramilitary branches.
All of the expectations about peace, respect for the citizens’ human rights and the vindication and reparation of the victims of state terrorism are being progressively shipwrecked. The so-called “peace process” and the acclaimed “Peace Agreement” don’t mean any kind of reversal of the proliferation of state crimes and of the strengthening of paramilitarism. The demobilization of the FARC brought with it the occupation of their prior spaces by the paramilitaries and the continuation of the old tradition by murdering those who demobilized and, on this pretext, murdering a multitude of social leaders and defenders of human rights.
Our Peace Community has not escaped that vicious dynamic. Today the paramilitaries are lording over all of the towns (veredas) of the District (corregimiento) of San José and one of their continuing proclamations is that they will exterminate our Peace Community. They continue their armed and defiant presence in all of the towns (veredas) where our Peace Community has settlements.
The events that we need to record are the following:
On Friday June 8, 2018, the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army and the Urabá Police called together an “Act of Contrition” in the urban part of San José for the massacre of the merchants that was perpetrated on February 19, 2000. In that massacre four storekeepers were murdered as part of a plan to suppress all sales or entry of food items. The purpose was to subject the Community to a siege of hunger. The families were disappointed because the spokesmen for the Armed Forces refused to reveal the whole truth about what had happened and to identify all of those responsible, neither the planners nor those who carried out the murders. The families were emphatic in insisting that it would be impossible for them to turn the page until they were told the whole truth.
On Sunday June 10, 2018, eleven paramilitaries armed and in uniform, were present in the Luis Eduardo Guerra Peace Village, part of our Community. When a member of our Community called them out for violating the Community’s private space, they taunted him and threatened him and responded furiously that they could be wherever they felt like being and they told him not to defend the Community or its leaders because they were on the side of the guerrillas. They said that the ELN would be coming into the area pretty soon and they would see whether the Community would complain about the ELNin the way they were complaining about paramilitaries. They also asked him for identification so that he could be on their watch list.
On Monday, June 11, 2018, during the day, the same paramilitaries went into the Luis Eduardo Guerra Peace Village again and went into several homes and stole food and supplies. At that time the houses were empty, but when the people started coming home, the paramilitaries left.
On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at 7:00 a.m. a paramilitary who has the assignment of being a spy or what they call a “punto” in the area of El Barro, in the town (vereda) of Mulatos, and who had taken part in the criminal occupations of the Community’s spaces in the previous days, went into the home of a member of the Peace Community, intending to carry out a search or “census” of the families, but he received no answer whatsoever to his illegal attempt.
On Friday, June 15, 2018, at 3:01 p.m., a group of paramilitaries, uniformed and carrying long guns, arrived at the town (vereda) of Mulatos-Cabecera and forced the civilian population in the area to meet with them.
On Saturday, June 23, 2018, thirty paramilitaries, uniformed and carrying weapons, gathered together the campesinos that live in the town (vereda) of La Cristalina and told them how happy and overjoyed they were about the candidate Iván Duque’s victory in the presidential election. They said that his triumph really belonged to Sr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, because he was the one who had created the paramilitaries and supported them for many years, so that now they would be able to count on strong official support for their projects, especially in their commitment to completely exterminate the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. For that meeting they had gathered together the towns (veredas) of Buenos Aires, La Linda, La Sucia, Bellavista, El Mariano and some others. They notified all of those campesinos that they were the maximum authority in the area and that everybody better submit to them in the future.
On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, there was a meeting of the Community Action Group in Mulatos Medios. Six paramilitaries attended for the purpose of demanding that the Group carry out their plans. It appeared that their plans had not been carried out exactly as they wanted. This reveals one more time the close connivance and unity of action between that Community Action Group and the paramilitaries in the area. It makes it easier to understand the plans that that Community Group has against our Peace Community. They are trying to expel us from that space by using violence. While it is sacred to the memory of the massacre of Luis Eduardo Guerra and his family, it is also a territory that our Community has acquired the right to possess, because it has exercised peaceful dominion over it for more than ten years.
On Saturday, June 30, 2018, at 9:58 p.m., twenty paramilitaries, uniformed and carrying long guns, arrived at the place called El Barro, in the town (vereda) of Mulatos, and they moved into the home of Sr. ANÍBAL, nicknamed “The Devil”. Since then they have stayed there. Very close by, in the Mulatos River, there was a military contingent of the Bejarano Muñoz Battalion of the 17th Brigade, but they didn’t confront the paramilitaries. That confirms the complicity and unity of action between the Army and the paramilitaries that we have complained about hundreds of times in these 21 years of the existence of the Peace Community.
In a manner that by now is systematic, on the road that communicates San José with the urban center of Apartadó, there are multiplying episodes of persecution of campesinos and social leaders that use the road. Many times it takes the form of muggings or robberies and even more serious attacks. It leaves a sensation of insecurity that is more and more worrisome, hiding the persecution of people who are on the paramilitaries’ “watch list”, but which, apparently through directives from a high level, have to be reported as common crimes.
As can be seen, the siege by the paramilitaries against our Peace Community is persistent. Added to that is the indifference of all of the institutions of the government, the legal as well as the administrative institutions. You might say that that shows absolute complicity. Nothing is done to stop systematic crimes that have lasted for two decades and more. The arrival of a government where the political trajectory has an undeniable injection of paramilitarism fills us with concern, and moves us to call again on all of the communities, organizations, and people from the different countries that have been our moral support, to beg them “not to let down their guard” in the times that await us, times that could be even worse.
With our gratitude as always,
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
July 5, 2018