Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, May 15, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The strategies of extermination against our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó never cease. Day after day, they figure out new ways of repression against our community. They are continually announcing the “final death blow” against our way of life, a “death blow” that keeps being devised in the different psyches of those that don’t see in our way of life the possibility of carrying out their covetous plans.
The new events that we leave to the consideration of humanity and of history are the following:
On Wednesday, March, 29, 2023, a young man, JAILER STIVEN GÓEZ from the District (corregimiento) of San José, was murdered. It appears that he was part of a paramilitary organization. Our Community has already reported that young men and boys from the towns (veredas) of the District of San José de Apartadó are being recruited by the paramilitaries.
On that same Wednesday, March 29, 2023, LILIANA ROJAS, a member of our Peace Community, was contacted by cell phone, apparently by an official of the Attorney General’s Office in Urabá, who identified himself with the name HENRY MAURICIO VÁSQUEZ. With compete disrespect for our principle of rupture with Colombia’s legal system, he summoned Liliana, telling her that he would meet with her in the settlement of our Peace Community in San Josecito, or asking her if she would prefer to accept his invitation to meet with him in another location, away from our Community. With all of this, he was trying to get information about the death of young Jimmy Andrés Sepúlveda, who was murdered last September 23, 2022. This attempt to obtain information about murders in our Community’s territory, or of members of our Community, is infuriating, as if we were hiding out some criminals, when, in reality, it’s public knowledge in the area where they were living that they had a permanent relationship with the military and police authorities in the urban part of San José de Apartadó. We repeat that they ought not to be searching for the killers in the place where they aren’t present. Just a few meters from the police station and the military base, where the killers are hanging out with them both day and night, is where the events took place. The Peace Community and its members are not responsible for doing the intelligence work within such a terribly corrupt system of justice, a system that has left in impunity hundreds of horrifying crimes that have done harm to us and have led us to renounce collaboration for many years, based on imperatives of conscience.
On Thursday, March 30, 2023, LILIANA ROJAS, a member of our Peace Community, received another call from a person identifying himself as HENRY MAURICIO VÁSQUEZ. He told her that he was part of the Attorney General’s staff in Urabá. In that second call, he warned Liliana again, telling her to heed his demand, that he was intending to come to the settlement of San Josecito, the population center of the Peace Community. We reject that attempt to involve us in the conflict, above all from somebody expressing the intention and the interest in coming into our private space.
In the last few days of the month of March 2023, several campesinos have approached our Community to let us know about the situation where the officials of the Urabá Land Restitution Unit are promoting applications for land restitution. Our Community has been able to confirm the way those officials are carrying out the activity of collecting information about the properties. It’s fragmentary and it works for the interests of people who are not victims who have suffered the rigors of the violence and risked the integrity of their families and even their very lives to protect what they owned.
On Friday, March 31, 2023, at 10:00 p.m., you could hear pistol shots, from subjects traveling on motorcycles in front of the settlement of our Peace Community of San Josecito, on the road that goes from Apartadó to San José.
On Saturday, April 1, 2023, at 11:35 p.m., once again men travelling on motorcycles were firing weapons between San Josecito and the center of town in San José.
On Thursday, April 13, 2023, there was a judicial inspection by a Land Restitution Judge at the property of the campesino family of JAIME GARCÍA and OLGA CARLOSAMA. The land is located right next to the city limits of San José de Apartadó. The Ombudsman was not present in that investigation, although he has the power to press for the rights of the current owners, and in spite of the fact that his Office had delegated Attorney JAVIER VUELVAS to represent him in carrying out the procedures for defending the García Carlosama family. The only things we know about the conduct of Attorney VUELVAS are the times he has pressured the García Carlosama family to “cut down all the lumber, gather everything you can and abandon the property, and if you have a family member or a place to go, get away as fast as you can.” How can an institution be tolerated when it says that it’s changing its corrupt procedures and then it employs a caricature of an official like this one who is so crudely coopted?
In the final days of April, 2023, you could see a strong movement of well-known paramilitaries (urban hoodlums) traveling on motorcycles on the road that goes from Apartadó to San José.
On Friday, April 28, at 11:20 p.m. two subjects in dark clothing came into our settlement at San Josecito. After that, they fled on the road to Apartadó.
On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at 2:33 p.m., a subject wearing dark clothing entered our settlement at San Josecito. After 11 minutes he took off running through the bushes.
On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, we informed some high government officials about the fraudulent way that the National Police had acquired the property for the Police station in San José de Apartadó, not just by the use of violent methods and by the imposition of a Presidential Order after the horrendous massacre on February 21, 2005 against our Peace Community, but also by the falsified documents they used to declare the plot of land, that was already legally titled, “empty land”, and concoct a second false and fraudulent title, so that the Police could dishonestly take over the space.
On Thursday, May 4, 2023, our Community was informed that once again they were working on a plan to invade community land belonging to the Peace Community. In this case it’s the Predio Las Delicias, located in the town of Esperanza in the District of San José de Apartadó. It is known that the leaders of the Town of Esperanza and other towns, held a meeting to coordinate and outline strategies with the paramilitary organizations who would facilitate their entrance and carry out the invasion of the Las Delicias property. That property, because of its geographical location, has awakened the interest of economic and social powers in the region. They have already done a lot to try to wrest the property away from us, using different forms of repression against our Peace Community, violation of boundary lines, destroying fences, and invading with the yellow machinery in the attempt to use violence to build a highway that we firmly oppose because it’s being pushed by the paramilitaries, and because they don’t even have environmental permits, so say nothing of prior consultation with the neighboring campesinos, overriding our right to protection and respect for private property that is established in the Constitution of Colombia.
On Friday, May 5, 2023, there was a hearing in front of Branch 2 of the Civil Court of the Apartadó Circuit, in relation to the La Roncona property, the subject of our Peace Community’s petition for formal titling, based on our 26 years of peaceful occupation and use for subsistence farming. In this case, we were able to prove before the Court that the Peace Community has exercised peaceful, public, and uninterrupted possession for much longer than the minimum period required by law for prescription and acquisition of dominion.
On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, several paramilitaries were seen during the day in the town of Arenas Altas, including a well-known Commander in the area. They were wearing dark clothing and carrying weapons and communication radios, and they marched into the community property that we use for living and working in Arenas Altas.
On Monday, May 15, 2023, during the day, our Peace Community found out about a series of violations by the Armed Forces of private property belonging to campesinos in the town of Arenas in the District of San José de Apartadó. It appears that last April 29 the soldiers were camping there and entering some of the houses without permission, and it later looked as if the houses had been looted.
We reiterate our deepest convictions about the defense of our lives and our land while they pressure and challenge us again and again to defend our ethical and moral principles. That puts our lives in second place, and puts in first place our collective and humane way of living.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
May 15, 2023