Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, March 30, 2024

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

As the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, we once again raise our voices to every corner of the world to report to humanity and to history the events that are constantly attacking the people in our social and geographic surroundings and are also attacking our Peace Community.

At about the time of the crime, audios were being circulated in which attackers against our Community were expressing their willingness to use violence to carry out their plans for our Las Delicias property. One of them was ERIEN TUBERQUIA from the Community Board in La Esperanza, saying:

“I don’t know, guys, but I said from the beginning that once we get going . . . tearing down the wire fences, how many of you are ready to go to jail, how many are ready to fight to the finish . . . that’s still the question, if we really take to the road, so that the government listens to us, well, brother, unfortunately, some blood will have to be spilled (. . .) if the other towns care even a little bit, let’s deal with it by going that way, with blood and fire, as they say around here. But then everybody is going to say, let’s not do anything, let’s not do anything, and we don’t do anything. That’s simple, pal, if you have to go in with a bulldozer, taking people down, well, that’s the only way the government will offer to negotiate with us.”

Another one was also a member of the Board in La Esperanza, BENJAMIN HIGUITA, and he said:

“We’ve got chainsaws and we’ve got people, and now we can throw them over, that’s what we have to do (. . .) away with the Peace Community, away with the Peace Community, we don’t want them around here. The town of Esperanza says, away with the Peace Community. Away!

Another member of the Board at La Unión, and a signer of the Peace Agreement, FREDY SÁNCHEZ, said:

“These bums aren’t giving me anything. I don’t care if the s.o.b’s don’t talk to me, and I do say, let’s get this over with, the s. o. b.’s and if somebody doesn’t like it, s. o. b.’s, let’s find a place to take it to ‘em, s. o. b.’s, and if it gets tight, let the toughest horse take ‘em, s. o. b.’s, but make it sharp there, this sh** is no good, let’s get aggressive with them and let’s see where we get (. . .) that will put them in difficulties, people could even be killed. We’re sick of this, we’re sick of it.”

Answering that was NORBEY DE JESÚS ZAPATA also a signer of the Peace Agreement, and President of the JAC in La Unión. He said:

“What Comrade garfi (Fredy Sánchez) says is reality- it’ a serious thing garfi man, this thing is serious, at any time they could set fire to the ranchos around here, they’re men there, pay attention, get with it!”

There was another audio circulating, of FREDY VIDAL, from the Cacao Lives association, in these terms:

“Don Anibal, good morning, man, over there we have the money to survive for some three more years, no thanks to God, so (. . .) we’re not interested in letting this process cool off. Get ready for them to try to slow down the process, right now it’s going before a judge. The judge could take a year, two years, three years, ten years in the compressor and nothing will happen on the guarantee (. . .) They told me to keep quiet, don’t get involved in this problem, don’t buy chicharrones that aren’t meant to be yours, and I, s. o. b., I butted in, or better said, Don Anibal, I got really mad, and I told him, brother, I’m going with you all the way, the Community has to learn some respect s. o. b. things aren’t the way they want, brother         (. . .   ) either you fix this problem, or you’re really going down the road, for real, buddy, the only way you’re going to go.”

On Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at around noon, at the Las Delicias farm in the town (vereda) of La Esperanza, the farm that is the property of the Peace Community, two members of our Community, Nellely Sepúlveda, 30 years old, and Edinson David, 14 years old, were murdered. The first was the coordinator of our humanitarian space together with her partner, Diego Ceballos, and the second was Diego’s brother and a member of the team responsible for the farm. This crime is the culmination and climax of the whole process of progressively violent threats and attacks. We have complained about this process previously in the earlier reports we have filed. This crime also increases the number of extrajudicial executions we have already complained of in several hundred cases, as well as the number of actions characterized in international law as crimes against humanity, more than a thousand and a half, about which we have filed complaints with several international tribunals.

Once the crimes had been committed, government agencies got busy working toward impunity. As a first measurement, they did not perform the actions prescribed in the law for the treatment of the remains of crime victims; it was nine days before officials of the Technical Investigations Corp (CTI) got up to the farm to “collect evidence” when everything could have been rearranged because no one had been at the farm for several days. They were working with a woman who had signed the Peace Agreement to be able to frame her for the crime, trying to make it into a “crime of passion”, and thus destroying the dignity of the victims. They said that neither Nallely nor Edinson were members of the Peace Community, and that the killings were because Nallely’s husband found her having relations with her brother-in-law and decided to kill him. That attempt could not have turned out worse for them because, at the time of the killing, Nallely’s husband was visiting his father who was hospitalized in Apartadó. But if the killers lacked the most elementary common sense, they did contribute to revealing the enormous evil of the people that planned the crime.

This most recent combination of activities that could be considered an advancement toward the destruction of our lives was detected on Thursday, January 18, 2024, when in several places along the road that leads to San José from the town of Mulatos, we could see “puntos” (informers) for the paramilitaries carrying communications radios and dressed in camouflage. On that same Thursday, January 18, 2024, we learned that several young men from various towns around here had joined the paramilitaries’ groups.

On Friday, January 19, 2024, the presence of paramilitaries was noticeable in La Resbalosa, another of our settlements whose leaders are being threatened.

On Saturday, January 20, 2024, we were told that people belonging to the Community Action Board in La Unión had published several false and damaging accusations against our Peace Community, saying that several members of our Internal Council had had connections with the now-defunct FARC-EP.  But they will never say that some of the ones that are accusing us today had been expelled from our Community because they had been close to the now-defunct FARC-EP.

On Tuesday, January 30, 2024, during the morning, a group of soldiers from the Colombian Army’s 17th Brigade was seen traveling along the La Sucia River, an hour from the urban part of San José. On this same Tuesday, January 30, 2024, during the day, the Police had set up illegal sites of control or checkpoints in San José de Apartado and were carrying out illegal registrations of anybody that passed by. On that same Tuesday, January 30, 2024, several paramilitaries carrying communications radios and dressed in camouflage were seen passing by near the place that’s called Chontalito.

On Sunday, February 4, 2024, people that were living in the District (corregimiento) of San José and in the towns around the District, were saying that this year, 2024, is the year when the Land Restitution Unit (URT) will take away the property of the Peace Community.

On Monday, February 5, 2024, while three young men, members of the Peace Community from several towns in the District, were passing near the urban part of San José, they were invited to consume marijuana by soldiers who were present near the river.

On that same Monday, February 5, 2024, there was a knife attack on a young man from this region, in spite of the presence of the Army and the Police in the urban part of the District, but neither of those agencies intervened. Another example of the permissive and tolerant attitude by the Armed Forces.

On Saturday, February 24, 2024, in the afternoon, several paramilitaries were carrying weapons and communications radios. Among them were alias Perro Negro (Black Dog) and alias Barranquilla. They were present in the urban part of the town of Resbalosa where they were having a party.

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, Sr. CÉSAR JARAMILLO, a former official in the Mayor’s Office in Apartadó, and of FEDECACAO, together with some people from the town of La Esperanza, tried to force the opening of an illegal highway by going through our farm, Las Delicias. He damaged gates and fences there in the course of his illegal pretension.

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, some people from the town of La Esperanza trespassed on our property, the farm, Las Delicias. They damaged and cut the wire fence and drove in in a vehicle. We’ve been opposed for a long time to the opening of highways crossing our Community’s properties, for which we have had good reasons. For starters, because there hasn’t been any democratic planning, they are being built for counter-ecological purposes, they are being pushed by the paramilitaries, supported by the Colombian Army, and have evaded even the most elementary licenses.

On Sunday, March 3, 2024, a group of people being pushed by César Jaramillo and the JAC in La Esperanza, tried to destroy our gates and fences in our private property. While they were doing that, they were ranting and raving about our Community with every kind of insults and abuses, and announcing that on the next day they would be carrying out their mandate. Verbal aggressions and actions and psychology against our Community, while we remained silent.

On Monday, March 4, 2024, an unidentified person and some members of the Community Action Board of the town of La Esperanza were going around on our farm Las Delicias riding on a motorcycle, inspecting many details, and did not show any identification.

On that same Monday, March 4, 2024, there was a visit to the town of La Esperanza from the Ombudsman’s Office, the Mayor of Apartadó, and officials of the national government, among others. They were looking for a way to stop the attacks on our Community; however, the answer from the Board was to keep on violating our Community space and to destroy our gates all over again after it took five days of community work to repair them. Well, our Community never reacts with violent actions in the face of that kind of violence; neither do we complain about such acts of violence to the government agencies that have never been of any use, but only favor their political interests. Our Community will do the painful work of reconstructing the gates and fences that were destroyed.

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, the Community Action Board and the United Pentecostal Church of Colombia in the town of La Esperanza, pressured by Sr. CÉSAR JARAMILLO and other dark forces, entered our private property, the “Las Delicias” farm, and destroyed our gates, cut the wire fence in our pastures, ignoring our orders not to drive vehicles on our property. This was the fifth time this week that we endured attacks on our property. We explained that we have never blocked the trail that crosses our farm; on the contrary, we maintain the gates that have always been there to guarantee free transit for people and their animals, and their farm produce.

We will not take responsibility for any kind of forced displacement in the future, because at no time have we confined anyone, as these aggressors complain in the media and social networks. People pass by normally on motorcycles and on horseback without any kind of impediment. We reject being used by the Board in this area as an excuse to demand government projects for their town. Likewise, we make it very clear to public opinion that we are opposed to cars using our private properties to operate the illegal route, and we oppose the construction of roads that avoid every possible legal and democratic procedure. The ones who are invading, attacking, and damaging are the promoters of that illegal highway. They are the ones that are continuing to slander and defame our Peace Community, falsely accusing us of being guerrilla fighters. That’s what ANÍBAL HIGUITA announced to the President in the audios at the Community Board.

With time, we have perceived that around the Community Action Board in the town of La Esperanza, there is an alliance with Sr. CÉSAR JARAMILLO and the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army. They have been organizing a movement that strives to ensure that our Peace Community will disappear. They will then carry out unspeakable projects that are often dressed up in their signboards as “progress” and “development”. That has made us think that if something should happen to a member of our Community, it would be the responsibility of the members of that alliance. CÉSAR JARAMILLO himself, in an act of mockery or blackmail, was galloping around in our pastures on his horse, while the Board was wrecking our gates.

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, Sr. CÉSAR JARAMILLO posted serious libels of our Peace Community, and the Campesino Association of San José de Apartadó (ACASA) on social media. He said both organizations were created by the guerrillas. He used the identical language used by ex-President Álvaro Uribe to condemn all social organizations. On that same March 6, 2024, we made a record of a new attack, our sixth attack on our private property, Las Delicias. At 4:30 in the afternoon, in our presence, the Community Action Board of the town of La Esperanza destroyed and burned our gates. The attackers came with chain saws, clubs, and gasoline while they destroyed and burned the gates, claiming that they had come “peacefully”.

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, CÉSAR JARAMILLO, using local radio stations, was trying to sell to public opinion a distorted image of our Community which he had been cooking up in his mentality of hatred, and against former Mayor Gloria Cuartas and her technical aide, Carlos Montoya. He claimed we looked like a “miniature republic” that pays no attention to the laws governing working people. He says that we impede the passing of campesinos across our property, that we consider ourselves to be paramilitaries against those that don’t support us, and that we usurp properties and rights of the local communities. He says that he has taken all these accusations to the Attorney General’s Office, where he has testified that our Community, as well as the ACASA Association, were founded by the guerrillas. Even the attacks that have been perpetrated against our farm, Las Delicias, he pictures as favors he has done for us, by changing our old gates for new ones, when what he has really done is use violence to destroy our gates and our fences. It’s hard to find that big a collection of lies and libels all together in one place. He tries to do everything he can to dirty our image before society, and to seek support from corrupt authorities for his filthy projects.

On Friday, March 8, 2024, at 11 p.m., a group of vandals from the Community Action Board of the town of La Esperanza tore down our gates and fences and stole them. Such acts are typical of paramilitaries, and those identified as responsible are members of the Community Board of La Esperanza: BENJAMIN HIGUITA, ANÍBAL HIGUITA, DANEY TUBERQUIA, EUFRANIO GRACIANO, ERIEN TOBERQUIA, among others like CÉSAR JARAMILLO.

On SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2024, contrary to statements made by Sr. César Jaramillo, and by the JAC of La Esperanza, we have never impeded anyone’s passage over our private property, Las Delicias. People pass by on motorcycles, three-wheelers, livestock, just not vehicles. But that’s not enough for them. They’re thirsty for blood.

On Monday, March 11, 2024, there came another false libel by the Community Action Board of the town of La Esperanza. Now they claim that our Community threw rocks at an individual on the farm. We don’t carry sticks, chain saws, and for sure we don’t throw rocks. According to witnesses, they fell off the motorcycle because the path was slippery after the rain. According to a video seen on social networks, the injured people are claiming they were hit by stones on their back and forehead from a distance of 100 meters. How is that possible? Is this a movie or what? How far will their lying go? People are constantly crossing freely on motorcycles or on foot until late at night, without anything happening to them. The distance from our fence to the place where this happened is not less than 200 meters.

On Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at about 1:00 a.m. in the town of La Esperanza, and after more than 24 hours of waiting for the responsible authorities to come to the place where it happened, the Community decided to recover the bodies of our murdered comrades. We carried them in hammocks, walking more than five hours in the Serranía de Abibe, in the midst of a ferocious rainstorm and rising waters, until we arrived at the urban part of San José, where the remains were finally collected by the Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Corps (TCI). As we passed by the houses of San José, members of the CTI who didn’t care to go to La Esperanza, tried to take the bodies of our comrades by force. Meanwhile, the paramilitaries who populate the residential area were yelling out insults to our Community. We only agreed to turn the remains over for the necessary legal proceedings after we arrived at our Peace Community settlement.

On Friday, March 22, 2024, from our Community, we accompanied our sister and brother, our comrades murdered by the criminal hands of the paramilitaries, obviously tolerated by government agencies. Until forever Nallelly and Edinson! You will always be in our memory.

On Monday, March 25, 2024, the paramilitaries were launching new threats in the media: they announced their purpose to eliminate the families that coordinate the humanitarian spaces that belong to the Peace Community in the towns of La Resbalosa, Mulatos, and La Esperanza. In doing that, they are placing the central sites of our Community at high risk, insinuating that we ought to abandon them.

On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, a committee made up of various agencies of the national government traveled to the town of La Esperanza where a broad representation of our Community was waiting. They wanted to hear, at first hand, not just the details of the crime, but also the factors of context that the Community has been complaining about to Colombian society and international tribunals. On that same day, at about 7:00 a.m., a communication from a paramilitary commander was detected. He was insisting on trying to locate alias “VEGUETA” who had ordered them to get out of the area and take any clues with them.

On Thursday, March 28, 2024, at 9:00 a.m., a humanitarian commission from our Community, with international accompaniment, that was going from La Esperanza to the town of Mulatos, was surprised on the trail a few minutes away from the settlement at La Esperanza by five paramilitaries, two of them carrying weapons, and among them we recognized alias “Agripina”.

Once again we thank all of the people in the country and in the world who have shown solidarity with our pathway, especially in moments so painful and tragic as this one. They have sought numerous ways of being present for us, both physically and spiritually.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

March 30, 2024

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