Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, August 21, 2019
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
As on many occasions during these 22 years, our Peace Community once more reports to the country and to the world about the most recent events of which we have been victims because we want to continue our civil resistance, in the defense of our lives and of our land.
Once again our region is in mourning, thanks to the permissiveness of the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade. The paramilitares have murdered another young campesino in our District (corregimiento) because he refused to submit to their absurd and arbitrary demands. This is one more proof that the paramilitaries have a free hand to proclaim themselves the owners of the life and death of the civilian population here. While the government and its 17th military Brigade in Carepa insist that paramilitaries don’t exist and that our Peace Community has made up crimes in order to discredit them, the blood continues to flow in our area; the victimizers are still at liberty, and with carte blanche to keep on murdering and to carry around lists of the next people to be executed. They are spreading terror, while the civilian organizations such as the Community Councils, who ought to react forcefully, are paralyzed and keeping silent.
The events that we record today are the following:
On Sunday, August 18, 2019, between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., the young man WEVER ANDRÉS ARIAS GARZÓN or UBER, as the families between the towns (veredas) of La Linda and La Cristalina, in the District (corregimiento) of San José de Apartadó called him, was murdered. The crime was perpetrated by the paramilitaries that control the area. They entered the house where Wever Andrés happened to be alone, because his partner was in San José doing some shopping. They shot him four times and killed him. On that same Sunday, when we found out about it, our Peace Community organized a humanitarian committee to go to where this happened and to accompany his family. We were able to leave at 11:00 p.m., and we arrived there at about 1:30 a.m. on Monday the 19th to be together with his family and friends who had gathered. At the same time, we talked to the Public Defender’s Office so that the necessary legal procedures could be carried out. It was only at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, August 19, 2019, 19 hours after the murder, that members of the SIJIN, (Judicial and Investigative Police) the local Police and the Army arrived, allegedly in order to carry out the procedures. However, a Sergeant told the victim’s mother that it would be better if the civilians who had gathered would collect the body and take it to San José where a group of Police would be waiting, because they were very tired and had not been able to call a helicopter.
Members of our Community insisted that the Public Defender stationed in Apartadó should call the competent authorities, and so they communicated with Colonel Pavón, the Operations Commander, but he responded that it was the Police who ought to take the corpse to San José. The two contradictory orders are just more evidence of the routine irresponsibility of the Armed Forces, always trying avoid carrying out their responsibilities.
Faced with so much delay, the family had considered for a while collecting the body and carrying it to San José, but when they saw that the Armed Forces had arrived, they expected that they would take care of it. But they didn’t, and instead they told the family to do it. Our Community, which had stayed a little away, not wanting to be near people that were carrying weapons, because of our principles, but we went up to them to complain when we saw that the members of the GOES (Special Operations Group) were going to go away and leave the body lying there. The Police got angry, repeating that they were tired and saying that then we would have to wait for six hours to get a helicopter and then they left, announcing that they would come later to get the body.
While the members of our Community were returning home, separated by the Armed Forces and accompanying the victim’s mother, the relatives and friends of Wever Andrés caught up with us. Because of the irresponsibility of the Armed Forces, they had decided to place the body in a hammock and carry it to San José.
On that same Monday, August 19, 2019, the paramilitary alias ARCADIO TAMAYO and his younger brother were near the river, some 50 meters from the urban part of San José, looking around and taking photos of the committee from our Community returning from the place where the paramilitaries had murdered young Wever Andrés.
On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, our Community found out that the paramilitaries had threatened the civilian population not to go to see the place where Wever Andrés had been killed. That explained why nobody from any of the Community Action Committees had come near to the place, and that includes the Campesino Association of San José de Apartadó (ACASA in Spanish). Of course not, they were paralyzed by fear. According to information furnished to our Community, the paramilitaries alias ALFREDO or ALFREDITO, alias ARCADIO, alias SANTIAGO, and alias KALET among others recruited by the paramilitaries alias RENE and the CARDONA brothers, were the murderers, accompanied by their immediate bosses in this and other murders. KALET is a former FARC combatant and has been benefited by the government’s demobilization program. These paramilitaries and all of the other paramilitary commanders walk around in the midst of the Police and the Army in San José, drinking alcohol and planning new criminal activities.
But it turns out that WEVER ANDRÉS ARIAS GARZÓN had already been sentenced to death, as have been others who were executed before he was. His name was on THE PARAMILITARIES’ MURDER LIST. On Monday, September 18, 2018 he was threatened with death in the town (vereda) of La Cristalina, when he was part of the Guisao family, because he refused to allow the paramilitaries to register people so that they could have control over their lives and force them to take part in paramilitary activities. ( See our Report dated October 14, 2018). And for several months already, when he had been living away from his partner, he was included in a list of eight people to be murdered last January 17, 2019 (See our Report dated January 18, 2019). Later on, on April 20, 2019 the paramilitaries renewed their list so as to go back to killing, after they had cut back on crime for a while. According to them it was because of the fuss caused by our published reports. But on April 25, 2019 the paramilitaries alias SANTIAGO and alias ARCADIO ordered Wever Andrés not to cut down a small amount of stubble to plant corn on his farm. They said if he did, he would have to pay a fine of 5,000,000 (five million pesos, about USD 1,600). He didn’t want to follow those orders and he went ahead and planted his cornfield. (See our Report dated May 9, 2019). Today, three months later, he is murdered for not giving in to their deadly projects.
There are already numerous occasions where we have reported that there exists a group of civilians who are being threatened by the paramilitaries, but the Army and Police agencies are playing deaf to the attacks being suffered by the campesinos in this area. On December 22, 2017 we reported that there was a plan to kill our legal representative Germán Graciano Posso and seven days later, on December 29, there was an attempt on his life. Thanks be to God, our Peace Community was able to resist it. (See our Report of December 22, 2017). Using that same list that those same paramilitaries are announcing, they keep on killing, in spite of the fact that we have warned the country and the world in several reports. Already three people have been killed from that list: DEIMER USUGA HOLGUÍN on January 16, YEMINSON BORJA JARAMILLO on July 7; and WEVER ANDRÉS ARIAS GARZÓN. And the competent authorities continue to overlook what has happened. We place responsibility on the Army’s 17th Brigade and on the Urabá Police for these crimes that the paramilitaries have carried out, because if they were really doing their duty to guarantee the protection of the civilian population, and not being complicit with those groups that they have been collaborating with for 22 years, there would not be hundreds of people murdered in this region. At the same time, we hold the national government responsible for whatever may happen in the future to any member of our Peace Community, or to any other resident around here, because there are members of our Peace Community on the lists that the paramilitaries are announcing, as well as other campesinos that live around here. For 22 years, our reports arrive at the Presidential Palace, with moral censure and demands for our rights. But NOTHING HAPPENS. EVERYTHING STAYS THE SAME.
Once more we give thanks to the many encouraging messages that we receive every day from this country and from all over the world. They provide us with the moral and political strength to keep going with our ethical resistance. We will never be silent in the face of those crimes against humanity. Our profound gratitude to all of you.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.
August 21, 2019