ContagioRadio, May 9, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The Justice and Peace Commission has issued a report in which it describes the violence and the territorial control, unprecedented in this country’s recent history. It demonstrates the facility with which they move around, and the coordination and chain of command they have built on the Caribbean Coast, and in the Santanders, Chocó, and Antioquia. All of that with the non-functioning of the Armed Forces and the Police, which has been characterized, to say the least, as “suspicious”.

The report points out several of the events that have affected mainly the civilian population, indigenous reservations, and Afro-Colombian communities in various regions of the country. They keep the people in turmoil, in spite of the fact that it was announced that the Armed Stoppage would end this Monday, May 9. Justice and Peace emphasizes that all of the videos and photos in the report have been verified by their teams on the ground.

The humanitarian consequences of the AGC’s Armed Stoppage are devastating

“Ever since last Thursday, May 5 at 6:00 a.m., through public statements, the so-called Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AGC, have declared an Armed Stoppage in Chocó, Norte del Chocó (Bajo Atrato, Medio Atrato, Baudo, San Juan, and Clima at the border with El Valle), Antioquia, Córdoba, Sucre, Bolívar, Montes de Maria, Atlántico, Magdalena, Guajira, Cesar, Valle, and Santander in the municipalities and rural areas where they exercise territorial domination.”

The human rights organization’s report complains that the activities of the AGC against the indigenous communities in the region of Cacarica, in Bajo Atrato, Chocó, were activities that best exemplify the fear that is spread among children and pregnant women.

Furthermore, the report describes the distressful situation that the members of the Afro-Colombian communities in the Bajo Calima continue to experience. Bajo Calima has only one way out to be able to travel to the city of Buenaventura, so that they are forced to remain confined because all of the roads are blocked.

One of the situations that is repeated in a pattern in all of the sites where the Armed Stoppage took place, is that the Armed Forces are inoperative, and that there has been no information about any combat in the places where the AGC is in complete control.

In addition, the organization’s report makes clear that the consequences for any application of International Humanitarian Law are very worrisome, since that regulation for internal conflicts, such as Colombia is experiencing, is the minimum base for opening paths to resolution of the conflict.

“Transportation from the San Juan waterfront, San Juan, and Calima, to the city of Buenaventura has been closed since May 5. Neither the Christian nor the Catholic congregations have been able to get to their place of worship. The AGC even forced some of the churches to close. People are running out of fuel; there is no energy for the functioning of electric plants, and there is a shortage of food.”

Duque’s politics of legality keeps taking on water in Colombia

This Armed Stoppage and the bludgeoning of the AGC actions has demonstrated, in the opinion of this human rights organization, that the politics of security with legality that he thought would be this administration’s answer, has failed big time, and has shown that Duque’s speeches are nothing more than rhetorical evidence of its failure.

“Peace with legality is just a punch line in a dismal joke that demonstrates the rhetoric of a national government that’s breaking into fragments, while armed powers have been able to consolidate in both urban and rural territories by a series of peace processes with blunders and failures like that of the EPL, the AUC 975 demobilization, that of the FARC EP, and a sabotaged process leading to collective submission to the AGC.”

Several other human rights organizations agree with that conclusion, and are warning about the danger that an Armed Stoppage like the one going on now will actually be used as an excuse to decree a State of Exception, which could lead to postponement of the elections, which could put Colombian democracy at high risk, because it would directly affect the possibilities that the Historic Pact Party could lead the next administration.

Besides that, the Peace and Justice Commission continues to insist that the multiplicity of conflicts that are being experienced in different regions of the national territory cannot not be mended through force, but by the much-needed attention to the humanitarian necessities of the people, in accord with the calls being made by the Church, in order to advance to negotiated outcomes, including the necessity for a dialog with the so-called Clan del Golfo.

Another situation that can’t be explained to the hundreds of people and social and community organizations is how an organization like the AGC sustains and supports its members and increases its power without any effective response on the part of the administration to stop it from taking over the countryside. That’s where all of the revelations about the complicity and joint operations with the Colombian military, some of whom are on the group’s payroll, as revealed by the recently extradited “Otoniel”, have become relevant.

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