contagioradio, March 30, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

A well known journalist who works with this station was able to record a statement by one of the witnesses to the massacre of 11 people in Puerto Leguizamo. She described the moments of horror experienced by the inhabitants of that district (corregimiento) when members of the Colombian Army cold-bloodedly murdered the people that were enjoying a bazaar to raise funds for community activities.

In the witness’s terrifying account, she includes the murder in cold blood of the governor and the president of the Community Action Board of the town (vereda). According to her, the people were chatting with each other when the Army troops charged in firing their weapons, killing several people that were trying to get out of their way, some of them running, and some of them jumping into the river.

However, they couldn’t escape the bullets fired by the Army that “finished off” the people that were in the water. Besides that, they paid no attention to the people they had wounded, and some of them died as the soldiers looked on.

In addition, the people are complaining about the displacement of several families who fled running from the region, heading for Ecuador when they saw the cruelty of what the soldiers were doing. They went to seek refuge and protection from the soldiers of the neighboring country. Up to now, the number of people displaced, fearing for their lives, is not known. For his part, Senator Feliciano Valencia stated that the funds raised at the bazaar had been stolen by the soldiers. It was approximately 11 million pesos (a little less than USD $3,000), and it was to be used for community activities like improving infrastructure.

Another part of the witness’s story has to do with the way the soldiers were trying to rearrange the scene of the crime to try to justify the murders. According to her testimony, the soldiers planted rifles there so they could say that they had belonged to the people that were killed, people they called “border commandos”; however, the weapons they planted were not anywhere near the bodies of the victims.

In her account, she also noted that the soldiers would not allow the families of the people that had been in the community bazaar to come near, and they tried to hide what had been going on. When some of the people came in, they could see that the wounded were asking for help, but they got no help, and they died waiting to be attended to.

In the press conference by OPIAC (National Organization of Indigenous Peoples), the community insisted that it would be able to establish the fact that the Army activated explosives and some grenades with the intention of destroying the evidence and making it impossible to identify the bodies. Besides that, they took the bodies away without the presence of a representative of the Attorney General’s Office. This action will impede the investigation of the entire event.

This massacre carried out by Colombian soldiers is setting off alerts, and arousing anxiety all around the country, and of the international community, because of the savagery with which it was done, and the information issued by the Defense Ministry, all of it contrary to the facts of what happened.

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