Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, February 28, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The fear, the despair, the disappointment, the pain, and the hundreds of losses that, during these more than 25 years of being a Peace Community, are what the deadly power of the Colombian government has left for us. Its reigning impunity and strategies of annihilation are experienced daily by the Peace Community and the people here in general, along with the rottenness that exists in the legal system, the corruption, the inequality, and the violence, the nepotism that is evident in all of the entities of control, the agencies at all levels; all of that confirms once more our position of separation from the government.

The bearers of death who, 18 years ago, took the lives of Luis Eduardo, Bellanira, Deiner, Alfonso, Sandra, Natalia, Santiago, and Alejandro still walk free. This February 21 we commemorate that horrible and grievous massacre. In spite of investigations, evidence, testimony that explain the events and determine those responsible, they still continue in total impunity, just as in all of the actions taken against the lives and bodily integrity of the people living in this region, in the Urabá area, and in all of the territory of Colombia.

Eighteen years ago, the power of the weapons of the government, allied with its paramilitary arm, murdered our friends and family members. The planners and the actors continue to enjoy complete freedom. Some are continuing their genocidal activities and others flaunt high positions in the government. We will never forget those events because these were our friends, brothers, and the innocent comrades of those whose lives ended on that day; they are in our hearts and always will be.

Our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó carried out a journey for life, from the humanitarian life to the environmental life, with the participation of a large group of people from different parts of the world. They accompanied us on this long march on the days from February 18 to February 22 of 2023. During the trip through different towns (veredas) in the District (corregimiento) of San José de Apartadó, including: Buenos Aires, La Unión, Las Nieves, El Porvenir, La Esperanza, Playa Larga, Mulatos, and La Resbalosa, we were able to verify not only the strong presence and control by paramilitaries in several areas of San José, but we also verified the evidence of illegal road construction. Besides that, roads are being built without the permission of property owners, as in the case of the road from Nuevo Antioquia that they want to take as far as the town of La Esperanza, violating private property rights as well as the peace and tranquility that are established in Colombia’s Constitution. During the journey we experienced a very sensitive and profound moment, as we commemorated the 18th anniversary of the horrible massacre perpetrated by the Colombian government against our Peace Community. It was by military and paramilitary soldiers on February 21, 2005 who, with overflowing cruelty, tore away the lives of 8 people, including a toddler, 18 months old. The killers, in spite of the efforts of eminent jurists who were able to crack open the impunity established by judges and magistrates at the trial and first appeal levels of the case, who obtained an appellate decision by the Supreme Court of Justice, convicting ten Colombian Army soldiers of the horrible crime. However, now those criminals are going to the JEP (Special Jurisdiction for Peace), which illegitimately and shamefully has protected their 18 years of impunity.

Once more our Peace Community turns to humanity and to history to make a record of new events that are attacking the people who are our geographic and social neighbors, and attacking our Peace Community. The new events that we now report are the following:

In the second week of January, January 7, 2023, the machinery for illegal road construction entered our private property of the Las Delicias farm in the town of La Esperanza without our consent. Our Community demanded respect for our private property but they, answering in an arrogant and vulgar tone, continued working.

Between the days of January 6 and January 10, 2023, a delegation from our Community went around the towns of Buenos Aires, Mulatos, and Resbalosa, and we confirmed the strong paramilitary presence in those towns. They were carrying weapons and communications equipment with complete freedom.

On Friday, January 27, 2023, a video broadcast on social networks showed RUBER MARIO GARCÍA, President of the Community Action Board of the urban part of San José. His announcement offered for sale one of our community’s properties known as SANTA ISABEL and located in the town of El Cuchillo in the District of San José. According to García, it’s being offered for sale by order of a woman named NUBIA, who claims to be the owner of the property. Ruber is trying to ignore the seniority of our Community in possession of that property, as we have exercised peaceful and legal possession of it for more than 25 years.

On Friday, February 3, 2023, there was a supposed Council of Security in the urban part of San José, with the participation of the 17th Brigade and the Police. Most of the civilian population did not attend because the Armed Forces are not interested in furnishing protection and opposing the paramilitary groups that control this area.

On the days Saturday, February 4 and Sunday, February 5, at the La Roncona property, which belongs to our Peace Community, you could see the presence of dump trucks and yellow machinery for the extraction of minerals for use in road construction, in spite of the fact that members of our Community quickly went to the site and warned them of the legal procedure we are pressing in relation to this property. The officials ignored us, asserting that they don’t recognize the Peace Community as the owner, and claiming that they represent the Mayor’s Office and they can do whatever they want.

On Sunday, February 5, 2023, during the day, all over the region there were circulated physically, and virtually on social networks, a pamphlet that threatens the civilian population. From the evidence, you could see that it was from the paramilitaries that control this area, and it discredited the name of Colombia Humana.[1] That served as a pretext for the Armed Forces to set up checkpoints in the urban part of the town of La Victoria and to carry out pretextual and illegal searches in the District of San José.

On that same Sunday, February 5, 2023, our Community learned of a series of kidnappings, including of some children, by the paramilitaries. According to the information, the cases were taking place right in the middle of the urban part of San José.

On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at 8:50 a.m., ten minutes before the hearing that was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on that day, our Community learned that the hearing on the La Roncona property had been cancelled once again, in spite of the fact that we had contact with Clerk of Court, where they had said that the hearing was going ahead. These behaviors are continuing to prove the existence of a phony “justice”. It’s extremely disrespectful to our human dignity.

On Friday, February 10, 2023, during the day, six paramilitaries entered the residence of a member of our Community who lives on the La Cabaña farm, a private property of our way of life in the town of La Resbalosa. Those paramilitaries surrounded the residence in a suspicious manner, generating panic and terror.

On Monday, February 20, 2023, in the town of Mulatos, in the District of San José, several head of cattle belonging to the paramilitaries went onto the La Cumbre farm, which is the property of our Community. The animals destroyed harvests of beans, plantain, and onions, among other things, subsistence crops and food that sustain the families of our Community. And those animals remained among our crops until February 22, 2023. This is not the first time this has happened.

On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, our Peace Community was warned of a plan to invade us that was being orchestrated by local government officials and some people in the area. The invasion was to be of our Santa Isabel property, located in the town of El Cuchillo, in the District of San José. That property belongs to the Peace Community.

On Thursday, February 23, 2023, in the town of La Resbalosa, several head of cattle belonging to the paramilitaries went onto the La Cabaña farm, the property of our Community. They destroyed plantain and banana crops, meant to sustain our families.

On Saturday, February 25, 2023, our Peace Community learned that the Police Officers in San José had prohibited the owner of a property that was located next to the Police bunker, from building a house on his property. The bunker is also illegal and built through an accumulation of offenses and crimes. They were claiming falsely that the Police owned the property, when the true owner was the person they wouldn’t allow to build there.

On that same Saturday, February 25, 2023, in the town of La Unión, a heavily armed group of Colombian soldiers entered the private property of a family from our Peace Community. In spite of the fact that they were asked to leave the place immediately, they did it, but not before expressing their fury against our campesino way of life.

On Sunday, February 26, 2023, our Community learned of the 30-day truce that the paramilitaries had declared in the region. They claimed that once the 30 days were up, they were going to take military action against the civilian population.

Once more we express our gratitude to all of the people and communities, in Colombia and in the world, that accompany us with their vigilance, and their messages of solidarity, continuing to support our resistance.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, February 22, 2023

[1] Colombia Humana is a progressive political party in Colombia.

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