Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, March 7, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Last February 21, our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó once again gathered in a pilgrimage with broad participation to the places marked by martyrdom, in the towns (veredas) of Mulatos Medio and La Resbalosa. There on February 21, 2005, 17 years ago, seven members of our Peace Community and one farm laborer who was helping to harvest cacao, were massacred with hideous cruelty by direct and indirect agents, secretly coordinated and distributed, of this criminal government of Colombia.
As in the previous 16 years, the pilgrims gathered at the places of each of the slaughters, at the exact time that, according to surviving witnesses, the barbarous acts took place.
The commemorative activities began at 7:30 in the morning next to the shrine in Mulatos. The shrine was built at the site where the historic leader of our Peace Community, Luis Eduardo Guerra, was slain with machetes and clubs. Murdered in the same way were his companion Bellanira Areiza and his 10-year-old son, Deiner Andrés Guerra, who was also decapitated. The night before, they had installed a plaque next to the shrine. The plaque explains the details of the crime, and passersby can observe the monument, which is the fourth rendering of the sacred place which throughout these 17 years we have tried to preserve. It is a bloodsoaked place with the awe and distress that is produced by martyrdom. This fourth rendering, in stone and cement, was begun by a young Israeli man, an expert in construction with stone. He visited the site of the barbarism several years ago, and was moved by the shock he felt when he learned what had happened.
After the celebration of the Eucharist in Mulatos, the pilgrims proceeded to the town (vereda) of La Resbalosa, nearly a two-hour walk over hills and through forests. The accounts of the survivors placed the beginning of the slaughter at 12 noon, when the aggregation of direct and indirect agents of the government neared the humble house of Alfonso Bolívar Tuberquia and Sandra Melina Muñoz Posso, firing their weapons and bursting into the kitchen, where Sandra fell dead instantly. Her children, Natalia Andrea, five years old, and Santiago, 18 months, were cut in pieces by the soldiers when Alfonso, who had fled at first, came back. He suffered the same fate as his wife and children, whom he had not been able to take with him as he fled. Alejandro Pérez, a neighbor who was helping them to harvest the cacao, had already been horribly riddled with bullets and blown to pieces. Gathered together at the house that still covers the mass graves where the bodies of the martyrs, in pieces, had been hidden, the pilgrims took part in a ceremony of memory with reflections, testimonies, singing, and prayers.
Not only in Mulatos, but also in La Resbalosa, the songs of supplication and accompaniment included the gesture of hands raised in a ritual of blessing, closing with commemorative acts of collective affirmation in these sacred spaces:
This place is Holy Ground,
This is a Ground for Gathering Together,
This is a Ground that Belongs to Everyone,
This is a Ground for Showing Love,
This is a Ground for the Living,
This is a Ground for Grace,
This is a Ground for Friendship,
This is a Ground for the Light,
This is a Different Kind of Ground,
This is a Ground for Sons and Daughters,
This is a Ground for Sisters and Brothers,
This is God’s Ground