Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

April 18, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

At this time when the Christian world remembers the passion of Christ, our Peace Community, following a tradition that relives our first years of existence, followed the steps of the Passion, particularly on Holy Friday. That is profoundly connected with the passion and death suffered by so many members of our Community. This year we went down from the Rigoberto Guzmán Ecological Village, passing through the towns (veredas) of La Unión and El Cuchillo, until we arrived at our central community at San Josecito.

We relived our chilling memories that came back to us, of the horror, the cruelty, and the barbarity that the Colombian government is capable of, with its methods of torture, with frame-ups, with lies, with calumnies and killing, nothing different from Pontius Pilate and his Roman soldiers and the murderous guards of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

In walking this path of suffering and pain that several of our brothers had to walk, we are moved by their lives, and their legacies are reborn in us with new energy.

Once again, our Peace Community turns to all humanity and to history, to make a record of the new actions perpetrated by the paramilitaries and the Colombian Army:

On Sunday, April 3, 2022, in the center of the town of La Unión, in the District (corregimiento) of San José de Apartadó, two merchants from there were threatened by the paramilitary Adolfo Guzmán. That paramilitary is responsible for providing psychoactive substances to young people and minor children. Besides that, he pressures the children in the public school in the town to plunge into that vice. On several occasions, he has left those substances inside the school. That paramilitary, who is from the town and lives there, is located in an area where there is a permanent presence of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army, and they protect him.

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, during the morning, in the town of La Unión, in the open areas used for community life and work by the families in our Community, people dressed in military pants and green tee shirts were seen carrying long guns.

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 8:00 p.m., two people dressed in dark clothing were seen at the entrance to our settlement at San Josecito, crouching among the trees.

On Friday, April 8, 2022, there was a community activity going on in the town of La Unión, on the trail that leads from San José to the populated area of La Unión. There, some members of our Community saw the presence of troops stationed at the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade that is headquartered in the Municipality of Carepa. The troops were doing some work together with the well-known paramilitaries from the town of La Unión.

On that same Friday, April 8, 2022, a member of our Community in the town of La Unión could detect the presence of military troops camped on a planting of cacao that he is working up there right now. The soldiers not only damaged the cacao trees, but they also destroyed mature pods of cacao.

On Saturday, April 9, 2022, members of our Community were alarmed when they saw 4 people, dressed in dark clothing and carrying weapons, next to our settlement for community living in San Josecito.

On Friday, April 15, 2022, our Community was getting ready to conduct the third Station of the Cross, in the area where a massacre of May 17, 1992 was perpetrated by the Colombian Army with a great abundance of cruelty and ferocity. We were surprised by the presence of soldiers that were occupying the very space where the crime was carried out. Troops were camped where 3 of our campesinos of the town of La Unión were tortured, tied to trees, slashed and murdered, all of them very young: PEDRO LUIS SÁNCHEZ, 24 years old, NOVARO HIGUITA, 20 years old, and FLORENTINO AREIZA, 17 years. After viciously wiping out their lives, the Colombian Army took them away in a helicopter and presented them to the media as “guerillas killed in combat”. The soldiers that were present in this memorial space this Holy Friday did not remain silent while the story was being told, and they had no notion of showing any shame for being part of such a criminal government that it would keep all of its crimes in the most absolute impunity. We considered this to be one more affront to our dignity and to our memories.

We always renew the memory of this suffering; we also renew our feeling of gratitude to the many people and communities of Colombia and of the whole world, people who walk with us spiritually and fill us with the energy of resistance.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

April 18 2022

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