Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

June 26, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Once again our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó turns to the national and international community to make a record of the most recent acts of attack against the lives of the civilian population in our geographic and social surroundings and against the existence of our Peace Community.

It’s more and more difficult to live in an area where the paramilitaries are the ones in charge, imposing their rules on anyone and everyone. Bribery, extortion, and forced recruitment are our daily bread; added to that is that the civilian population is required to accept their laws, and to allow their “puntos” or paramilitary informants to live together with the civilian population in their homes.

The much-desired “total peace” has not arrived in this region, since in this nearly a whole year of the President Gustavo Petro administration, there has not been even a minimal interest by the agencies of the government to put a stop to this destructor who is acting with complete freedom to exercise its domination without anyone bothering it.

The events that we record for humanity, and for the judgment of history that will come some day, are the following:

At the end of the month of May, 2023, a resident of the town (vereda) of Arenas Altas came to our Community to express his concern about some damage that the Community Action Board of the town had caused to his property because, according to him, while working on the road, they had cut down several of his cacao trees and, up to that time, there had not been any reparation.

In the first week of the month of June, 2023, according to information we received, several paramilitaries had been firing their weapons in the town of Arenas Altas.

On Thursday, June 8, 2023, at noon, you could hear combat between the paramilitaries and, supposedly, Colombian Army troops at the spot known as Caracolí, or “Pueblo Arrecho”in the direction of the town of Murmullo Alto, in the Municipality of Tierralta, Córdoba Department. A little later, several helicopters flew over the area.

On Friday, June 9, 2023, during the morning, while our Peace Community’s musical group was rehearsing with the Canto Vivo and Academia Rap musical groups, in the city of Medellín, getting ready for a recording on a theme of peace, a suitcase with two computers was stolen. The Police came a while later, and all they said was that, if we had more information, we should go to a CAI (streetside Police office).

On Saturday, June 10, 2023, during the daytime, the lifeless body of a person was found in the town of La Balsa in San José de Apartadó. According to the reports of the people who had found the body, it contained a number of bullet wounds.

On Sunday, June 11, 2023, people from several towns in the District (corregimiento) of San José de Apartadó said that they are being threatened by the paramilitaries, and, according to what they said, the paramilitaries had tried to assault a woman sexually in one of the towns, and they threatened her husband.

On that same Sunday, June 11, 2023, during the day, a well-known paramilitary was seen in front of the community storage place in our settlement of San Josecito.

On Monday, June 12, 2023, we found out that in the town of Arenas Altas in San José de Apartadó, several paramilitaries in camouflage were seen carrying long guns.

On Friday, June 16, 2023, the lifeless body of a young man, EDWIN ANDRÉS CARVAJAL ÚSUGA, was found in the District of Currulao, in the Municipality of Turbo. This young man, who was from the District of San José de Apartadó, had been recruited by the paramilitaries who control this area. Some days earlier, Sunday, June 11, there were some violent exchanges between those same paramilitaries in the District of Nuevo Antioquia, in the Municipality of Turbo, a place that has been saturated for years with military and police presence. Alias El Médico (The Doctor) started harassing some of the civilians and paramilitaries and beating up on Edwin. He reacted fiercely and killed alias El Médico with a gun the paramilitaries had given him when they recruited him. The paramilitaries had captured Edwin and a brother of his, and they tied them up and took them away. They killed Edwin when they got to Currulao and they kept his brother tied up for several days and then let him go. His brother, who was a civilian, had to leave the area, as he had become a military objective for the paramilitaries.

On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, during the day, when a committee of our Peace Community, with international accompaniment, was going to the town of La Resbalosa, they were intercepted by two paramilitaries carrying FM frequency communication radios. It happened near the point known as Chontalito. When the paramilitaries saw that the group kept on going, paying no attention to their shout, they started yelling, insisting on asking where they were going. The members of our Community kept on walking, leaving the paramilitaries behind.

On Saturday, June 24, 2023, in morning hours, in the sector known as El Filo de Los Areizas, in the town of La Unión, you could hear shots being fired.

On Sunday, June 25, 2023, our Community learned of a plan by some people who were being pushed by the paramilitaries to invade the private property of the Peace Community, the Luis Eduardo Guerra Aldea de Paz, located in the town of Mulatos Medio.

In recent days we have noticed a strong presence of paramilitaries in the towns. They are carrying handguns and communication radios and they are visible to the civilian population. We have evidence showing the way these paramilitaries are more and more eager to interfere in the daily work of the civilian population and in the civilian organizations in the area.

There is comment in the region to the effect that these same paramilitary organizations have reformed their command structure, after the demoralization of Alias Otoniel and the death of Alias Siopas. It’s making the recruitment of young people, charging extortions, taxing everything you are selling more intensive, and causing the subjection of the campesinos to their new directives. Added to all that, we hear that the same new bosses claim that nothing the paramilitary organization owns will ever be released.

It’s infuriating to see the way that the big information media in Colombia consider paramilitarism to be a phenomenon of the past, and how all the government institutions have adapted to total tolerance of the paramilitaries. Not the Armed Forces, not the municipal administrations, not the business owners, not the political parties or anyone else is complaining about the total domination by paramilitaries in our region or in any other region of the country where everything is the same. They own our lives and our deaths. Edwin is one of their latest victims. They control all of the settlements with their “puntos” tolerated and supported by all of the authorities. They control the economy with their taxes, and by imposing their absurd plans and models of “development”. It’s a system that accepts slavery, at which the current “government of Change” has not even taken a look, even from a distance. How awful!

From our Peace Community, we are sending a message to the country and to the world in order to add ourselves to the defense of living without war. The war is asphyxiating and draining the blood out of a decent life for us and our neighbors here. Changing all of that seems not to be a priority for this administration that proclaims change. All that’s left to us is to thank all of the people and the communities who from a multitude of places in this country and the world believe in our resistance and have not taken one step back, but rather, they furnish us moral strength to continue resisting here in our area. Many thanks to all of them for supporting us for real change.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

June 26, 2023

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