Verdad y Memoria, EL ESPECTADOR, October 23, 2020

(Translated by Nico Nelson and Jack Laun, CSN Volunteer Translators)

In a discussion with Martha Cecilia Domico, daughter of the Embera leader, the ex-paramilitary chief said that he, as a de facto member of the military forces, carried out the crime, and that the information which they received was coordinated with the State. Martha Cecilia could take flowers to the place where her father’s body was dumped.

Nineteen years had to pass before Martha Cecilia Domico would learn where the body of her father, Kimy Pernia, leader of the Embera Katio community, was taken. Salvatore Mancuso, the former paramilitary boss who ordered that Kimy be disappeared, told Martha Cecilia, via telephone, that Kimy was thrown into the Callejas field in Tierra, Cordoba. Kimy was taken from his grave and tossed into the Callejas field because the Attorney General’s office announced it was going to exhume bodies from the region.

This discussion was possible thanks to the dialogue of the Truth Commission with victims and responsible persons and expressed in the Encuentro por la Verdad (Meeting for the Truth) about the truth of the Indigenous. Through a video Mancuso also expressed assurance that the assassination was a State-sponsored crime.

“What happened to the indigenous leader Kimy Pernia Domico was a crime of the State. As a de facto member of the State I received an order from Commander Carlos Castaño to assassinate the leader Kimy Pernia Domico. The excuses they were giving—because you will remember that the State was counting them and impeded their entry into the zone in a free manner because they said the Indigenous feed the subversive groups of the zone—and when they were going to construct the hydroelectric dam (Urra) the systematic actions of the Colombian State were designed to debilitate you and end any intent to realize or materialize your rights. It’s for that reason that this great fight began, they began to count them, and they were not allowed to bring in food freely. We set up checkpoints on the river and we watched the canoes that went up the river”, explained the ex-commander of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).

Mancuso also said that he wanted to reestablish contact with the communities to carry out acts of pardon and of reconciliation with other actors and the State: “You are going to know how the institutions of the State, when you brought pressure upon them, provided this information to us, so that we would, in one way or another, rid ourselves of that pressure.”

In the conversation with Mancuso, Martha listened attentively and told him she does not hold resentment. “I waited many, many years and now I go with clarity. I said to God: I know that someday he will tell me the truth, and we are not going to respond with violence. I am grateful that you are telling me all this. Mr. Mancuso you have already told me what they did with him. We are going to take him to Callejas and I am going to take roses there so that he will have peace.”

In the clip it is also evident how Martha Cecilia Domico was finally able to go and take flowers to her father. She stopped facing the Sinu River and tossed the roses. And she said to him “I give you this bouquet of flowers. I will always think of you, the words you told me as my father, as my mentor.”

Kimy Pernia Domico was a leader of the Embera Katio community from Tierralta, Cordoba. As a voice for his community he opposed the construction of the Urra Dam, a hydroelectric dam that eventually connects with the Sinu River. He worked from international advocacy and legal actions to impede the work of the multinational. He filed a tutela action, which came out in favor of the indigenous community in 1998, because the multinational business never conducted a prior consultation. But the project and the failure to comply continued, as Kimy also expressed before the Canadian Parliament and the Commission on Human Rights of the Canadian Churches the delicate situation of his indigenous community.

Pernia disappeared on June 2, 2001 and was assassinated by men under the command of Salvatore Mancuso. He was buried in a grave and exhumed, to later be thrown into the Sinu River, as the ex-paramilitary commander has said. The reason was his opposition to the hydroelectric project, reinforced, as he said to Domico, by the idea that the Embera Indigenous were guerrillas or aiders of subversive groups.

“They tortured Kimy, they killed him with his feet and hands tied, and his body never was buried with all the honors which his dignity merited, all for having defended his people”,  Nora, a noku or Embera chief, told El Espectador in 2011, ten years after his assassination.

In this significant meeting former members of the old FARC guerrillas, such as Rodrigo Londoño and Ubaldo Zuñiga, were present.

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