March 30, 2020
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
On Monday, March 23, our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó commemorated the 23 years of our public proclamation of our system. We were born in the midst of a real blood bath, promoted by the Colombian Army and its paramilitary arm. They did not really desire to fight against other armed groups, but rather they wanted to exterminate every social movement that would not submit to their exclusionary policies.
In our case, the military officials proposed to eliminate anybody who didn’t want to participate in an armed conflict in which, according to the military doctrine imported from the great empires, they had to involve all of the civilian population, actively or passively. Today, 23 years later, there is testimony from repentant paramilitaries who have made statements to the courts that President Uribe Vélez convinced them that our Peace Community was a nest of guerrilla fighters and that is why they committed to killing so many members of our system. But years later they discovered that all of that was false, and they had been forced to murder innocent people and to commit horrible crimes that keep them mired in regret.
Our celebration of the 23 years, given the quarantine and isolation that Colombia and the rest of the world are experiencing, was mostly virtual. Twenty-two sister communities and organizations from many countries connected on the internet and expressed beautiful messages of solidarity and brotherhood, extolling the path of resistance and dignity that our Community has followed and on which they have accompanied us with their moral support.
Since the government’s aggression and criminality does not cease or yield any respite, we are making a record today of the actions and situations that torment us:
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, a resident of San José de Apartadó got a call from alias “Nicolás”, a paramilitary leader of the Clan del Golfo. Using a cell phone with the number 312 4320960, he demanded that the resident kick in with a contribution to the financing of the paramilitary activities in the San José area. When he refused, he was told that he would very soon see the dead body of one of his closest family members.
On Sunday, March 15, 2020, our Peace Community learned of threats being made against the family of AMADO TORRES, who was murdered in the town (vereda) of La Miranda on February 29 of this year (2020). After his violent death, the competent authorities of the government refused to go to recover his body and his family had to transport it to the place known as Caracolí, in the town (vereda) of La Victoria. We know that the paramilitaries alias “Alfredo” and alias “René” took part in the crime. “René” is a regional commander. The control exercised by this criminal organization over the victim’s farm required his family to flee. The rumors that were going around the neighborhood included the paramilitaries’ sentence that “there are two other members of that family that have to be killed.” One of the victim’s workers has also been a target of the criminals. Added to that is the total inactivity of the Attorney General’s Office and worse yet, the attitude of the prosecutor in keeping the cell phone belonging to one of the victim’s sons. That fits with the perverse tradition of the legal system in Urabá: investigate the victims and never the killers. Nobody explains why they haven’t confiscated the cell phones being used by members of the paramilitary group that was responsible for the crime, since it’s a group that is widely known throughout the region.
On Saturday, March 21, 2020, delegations from the Community Action Commissions in the jurisdiction of Turbo, which borders on San José de Apartadó, were called together in the town (poblado) of Nuevo Antioquia. They were told to state, either Yes or No, whether they supported the exploitation by a gigantic coal mine that exists in the area. Presumably, it is owned by an Asian transnational company, apparently South Korean. We remember President Santos’ trip to South Korea in 2013, at a time when the media were talking about formalization of permits for the exploitation of mining resources, especially coal.
It’s very strange that in the official records of the National Mining Agency there are only permits for the national companies Argos and Carbones del Golfo, but the experts in the field talk about some kind of company outsourcing, whereby national companies serve as a kind of “front company” to protect the capital of the multinational. It’s profoundly worrisome that approval signatures are required from Community Action Commissions, which are mostly manipulated by paramilitary groups or by pork-barrel patronage leaders. This all shows that they are not at all carrying out a POPULAR CONSULTATION as required in the Constitution and laws, under the control of the National Registry Office, but rather an illegal parody of consultation, controlled by spurious and unavowable interests. Added to that are their supremely perverse machinations of bribery, such as offering to give those who vote “Yes” trucks, monthly payments, houses in the urban center and other perks and even construction of a dam on the Mulatos River, which will be no help in solving the water problems in the local towns, but rather will support the development of highly contaminating coal mining. Such an accumulation of illegality and perversion can only occur in an environment of paramilitary control and a population with a very long paramilitary tradition such as Nuevo Antioquia.
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, after the commencement of personal isolation in the whole country to avoid the contagion of “Covid-19”, the paramilitary commanders of San José de Apartadó started a day of consuming alcohol and drugs, and of disorder and violence in the settlement at La Unión. The paramilitary commanders WILMER DE JESÚS ÚSUGA, alias “Jesusito”, alias “Ramiro” and alias “Samuel”, all former members of the FARC-EP, had the leading roles. And from the settlement at San José WILMER or “Jesusito” had threatened to kill WILFER HIGUITA, who lives in the town (vereda) of La Unión. In January of 2009 he had served as an intermediary to Colonel Germán Rojas Díaz to subject a member of our Community to blackmail. He ordered him to help destroy the Peace Community if he didn’t want to be the victim of a frame-up with false witnesses. When WILFER fled to La Unión, “Jesusito” followed him up there and also threatened other people living in the settlement, while the other paramilitary commanders, alias “Samuel” and alias “Ramiro” –both brothers—were smoking marijuana in public.
Our Peace Community profoundly laments the degradation into which the town (poblado) of La Unión has fallen. In other days it was the scene of heroic resistance and of the martyrdom of well-known leaders of our Community. It was the scene of exemplary efforts of solidarity and community-building and many members religiously observed the principles that have ruled our Community.
On Monday, March 23, 2020, at 11:00 p.m., those who were guarding the entrance to our Peace Community’s shop saw two strangers arriving on a motorcycle. One of them got off and went into the field in front, pretending to do his biological necessity,, and then turned toward the urban part of San José. The guards thought they had other intentions that were frustrated by the presence of the guards.
Once again our Peace Community wishes to express our gratitude to all of the people and the communities that have accompanied us and fortified our resistance. Their messages were so important for us on the 23rd anniversary of our system.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
March 30, 2020