A BLOODY PEACE Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

November 3, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The repression and attacks on our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and on the people that live near us are systematic and continual, with a model that seeks our submission. The paramilitaries circulate all around our countryside with no interference, intimidating people, bullying, and killing without any mercy anyone they consider to be an obstacle to their evil plans.

In recent days and with really dark and evil deeds, documents and sensitive information were stolen from our Peace Community and from other organizations that accompany us, in a really delicate context of repression, both systematic and professional. It can have no other object than to exterminate us.

Some leaders of Community Action Boards in the District (corregimiento) of San José, perhaps infused with the paramilitary model or submitting to them, are not acting in favor of campesinos, but rather they defend and protect the interests of the ones that have committed the worst crimes, and that obstruct the possibility that someday the truth will be known. They are defending the indefensible.

Our Community once again turns to making a historical record, the only path that can lead to humanity and history someday being able to pass judgment on these events.

The new events that we are bringing to light are the following:

On Saturday, October 1, 2022, in the town (vereda) of La Unión, several paramilitaries arrived there, left their service weapons and communications radios in the homes of civilians, and went to visit with the Colombian Army soldiers and officers from the De-mining Battalion, just sharing the pastime of the “Secret Friend”, being celebrated that day in the town.

On Wednesday, October 5, 2022, our Community found out that a few days earlier the paramilitaries had stopped GILBERTO ÚSUGA, and pressed him to stop working as a farmer. He had been working in his cornfield, on a property in the town of La Unión. Úsuga rejected the paramilitaries’ order, saying that he wasn’t going to be blackmailed.

On Sunday, October 9, 2022, at 4:00 a.m., a paramilitary tried to get into our settlement at San Josecito. When members of the Community discovered him, he took off running.

On Thursday, October 13, 2022, at 3:00 a.m., the urban center of San José de Apartadó was flooded with paramilitaries traveling on 25 motorcycles on the road from Apartadó to San José, the only road in this area. They were received by paramilitaries stationed there and conducted to the head of the San José River. Those same paramilitaries came back at 3:00 p.m., once again crossing through the urban center of San José and heading for Apartadó. This massive presence of paramilitaries occurs in spite of the Police Bunker and the Army Base located in the urban part of San José. We wonder if this is something that can be explained as part of the administration’s approach to the paramilitaries, or more likely, it’s one more manifestation of the complicity between the government forces and the paramilitaries that they tolerate and even work with. Their complicity is very serious in this context of killing, threatening and persecutions that the Peace Community and the people who live here have been subjected to.

On Thursday and Friday, October 13 and 14, 2022, the equipment working on maintenance of the road from Apartadó to the urban part of San José, at the part next to La Roncona, which the Peace Community owns, was used to change the boundaries of the trail, and they also went more than 40 meters into the private space that they were not authorized to enter.

On Friday, October 14, 2022, our Community was notified that the paramilitaries, together with some civilians from the Mulatos Medio Community Action Board, had decided to take over by force our communal settlement at the Luis Eduardo Guerra Peace Village in the town of Mulatos Medio.

On that same Friday, October 14, 2022, our Community found out about the plan by OVIDIO TORRES to attack Arley Tuberquia, a member of our Peace Community’s Internal Council. Those announcements of a plan to attack him are now added to the defamatory accusations Sr. Torres has made against him.

On Saturday, October 15, 2022, our Peace Community again learned about a plan to attack our Community. Two paramilitaries that were hanging out in a well-known place (cantina) in San José, announced their plan for an incursion against our way of life, planning to silence the complaining voices in the records we file. They claim that the Community refuses to let them execute their plans, because of all our complaints, which annoy them a great deal.

On Sunday October 16, 2022, at 9:40 p.m. in the town of La Unión, in the District of San José, they found the lifeless body of the campesino, GILBERTO ÚSUGA, who lived in that town. According to statements, he had been drowned in a stream. Remember that Gilberto had been a victim of the paramilitaries on Saturday, July 18, 2021, when several paramilitaries came up to his house to buy three hens, and when he refused to sell them, the paramilitaries stole all of the chickens in the pen. Besides that, at the beginning of this month of October, he had been threatened by the paramilitaries not to plant any food crops. He rejected their orders, challenging their extortion.

On Friday, October 21, 2022, the Urabá Police Commander, ÓSCAR CORTÉS, announced to the communications media the capture of two well-known paramilitaries, alias EL BURRO and alias CHULO, this last named ALBEIRO CARDONA BORJA, who comes from La Cristalina in the District of San José.

According to a Police official, Cardona has a criminal record involving paramilitary groups that goes back 25 years. What the high official didn’t say was that ALBEIRO CARDONA joining the paramilitaries, along with his brothers OVIDIO and LUBÍN, was the work of the Colombian Armed Forces. Our Peace Community has not forgotten that on December 26, 2005, the three Cardona Borja brothers (OVIDIO, ALBEIRO, AND LUBÍN) worked together with the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade to massacre six young men at a Christmas party. That crime, according to all the analysts, also had the objective of facilitating the passing of the three brothers, who had been part of the FARC, into the ranks of the paramilitaries directed by the Army. It was public knowledge that the Army paid them for their participation in the massacre at La Cristalina. They were paid 4 million pesos (roughly USD $2,000 at the 2005 exchange rate) for each person killed, and they were then given camouflage uniforms, weapons, and vehicles to be able to serve as paramilitaries at the service of the Colombian Army.

The CARDONA BORJA brothers were not very discreet about their work as professional killers, and so their criminal record as paramilitaries was not exactly clandestine; rather it was public knowledge, as they themselves bragged publicly about their power as killers and their connivance with the Armed Forces, and they even announced it in the Transportation Terminal and at paramilitary checkpoints, not hiding the pride they felt in showing off their power to kill people, a power that was backed and sustained by the government itself.

A lot of files, now stacked away, contain their false complaints against members of our Peace Community and those who accompany us, accusing people, under pressure from the Brigade, of being “guerrllla collaborators”. Since they had no proof of any kind to support their slanders, they turned to the testimony of their mother, already dead, using her lips to sustain their lies. Anyone who knew their dear mother, a woman of integrity, conscience, and solidarity, said she would turn over in her grave with indignation at being used in such a vile manner by her own sons, telling lies at the service of causes that can’t be confessed. That was one more service that the government required of them, creating and preparing false testimony or signing the false testimony that the Brigade prepared for them.

We don’t know if the new Police commanders will want to clean up this capture after so many decades of disgraceful attacks on our Peace Community, but they can’t do that by covering up such an atrocious past. The cleanup has to include admitting and reconstructing the thousands of crimes perpetrated by the government against our Peace Community, and not putting the lid on the barbarous criminal records of government institutions. They must admit, first of all, that ALBEIRO CARDONA BORJA, alias “CHULO”, is an exemplary construction of their criminal strategies.

On Saturday, October 22, 2022, one of the members of our Internal Council and a historic leader of our Peace Community, Gildardo Tuberquia, found that two local residents had invaded a parcel of his property in the town of La Unión, and were planting crops without permission. He demanded that they leave, but they showed no respect for a property he had acquired legally and publicly. As they were so persistent, he had to cut their fumigation hoses. This event may be related to a campaign to take away as many parcels as possible from the Peace Community, as a way to take away our means of subsistence in strategies to weaken us until we are exterminated, now that the other seven strategies for exterminating us have been shown to fail. We are concerned that the Public Defender supports this campaign of land invaders. That Office, like all the other agencies controlled by the government, was coopted by the previous extreme right administration, appointing managers that were unconditional proponents of Uribism, contrary to the entire political philosophy of the Constitution of 1991.

On Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at 7:40 p.m., our Community received a call telling us of a plan by paramilitaries to invade our property in the Luis Eduardo Guerra Peace Village in the town of Mulatos Medio. They are promoting an invasion by some civilians in the region. According to the witness, the invasion plan might lead to bloodshed.

On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at 3:00 p.m., our Community received a call from a resident of the District of San José, warning that the paramilitaries are planning to kill two people that live there.

Most importantly, with the accumulation of attacks, we reiterate that we will not be silent either about the rifles or about the other strategies of extermination. Our way of life continues and will continue to be inspired by the value of LIFE. We will only be silent when the killer grasps a set of tools and uses it to build and create life in harmony with nature.

We keep alive the memory of our martyrs who offered their lives to build a world that is more just. And at the same time, we thank all of the people who, from different parts of the world are sustaining us with their moral strength, for a better world.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

November 3, 2022

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