Please write to Colombian government officials denouncing this most recent attack upon members of the Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado


Subject: ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMMUNITY OF PEACE OF 
SAN JOSE DE  APARTADO IN URABA, COLOMBIA

>
>SAN JOSE DE APARTADO, March 19, 1998
>
>
>Hello from the Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado,
>
>We would like to invite you to our first Anniversary of the  
Community of Peace on March 23 in San Jose de Apartado, Uraba.  We 
will be  celebrating not only our anniversary, but also, the return of 
300 displaced people  from our community to their homes in the La 
Union.
>
>We are sending a document "FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE, WE ARE 
RETURNING," which provides details about our return. We recognize 
the fact that it is difficult to be in the middle of the war, but, as we 
searched for  realistic alternatives it seemed to be an important step 
for our people.
>
>We want to acknowledge how important your partnership is to our 
community. We, therefore, ask for your continued support of our 
neutrality and  the peace process as we confront this war and the 
armed actors.
>
>
>Sincerely,
>
>COMUNIDAD DE PAZ
>SAN JOSE DE APARTADO

=========

FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE, WE ARE RETURNING TO OUR LAND

The Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado, remaining faithful 
to our objective, will have 300 of our members return to their 
hamlet, La  Union (about an hours walk from San Josť and considered 
part of the  region.)

We will be returning on March 23, the day of our anniversary, when 
we committed to be neutral in relation to the armed actors.  This 
decision originally was not respected, and eight days after our 
declaration we  were displaced from the surrounding villages by the 
army-paramilitary  troops.  We have, however, remained steadfast to 
our commitment to be neutral  despite the diverse adversities that 
we have experienced this past year.   These include the death of 48 
residents of the San Jose region, 7 at the  hands of the guerrillas and 
41 by the paramilitary troops with the support of  the Armed Forces.

In the same manner, we have strived for our own self respect such 
as the ability of providing for ourselves and not depending on the 
State for economic support.  We also chose to not allow our 
displacement to discourage us.  Instead we cultivated crops which 
were partially supported by International Organizations.   Without 
this assistance our resources would not have been sufficient to 
initiate economic programs.  The  communitarian work has actually 
been strengthened in the San Jose region  as we have grown
to  be more than 950 people in the span of one year and we have 
reached more displaced people.

We are again, however, requesting from the Colombian State to fulfill 
its  agreements to us by sending us food every twelve days.  These 
promises were given by several governmental representatives, yet at 
present they have not been fulfilled.  In the same manner during the 
month of September we were promised financial assistance for 
purchasing seeds, tools for farming,  fish cultivation, chickens, cattle 
and pigs.  The purpose of these programs  are to allow us to 
reactivate our  economic situation and to sustain us.  At this time, 
they have not been fulfilled.

As a result of this, we want to remain true to our objective to return 
to our land.   We have, thus, organized ourselves and sought to urge 
the  armed actors to respect our community and the zone which is 
considered  part of San Jose territory.  We can clearly say that we 
have marked our own  roadsigns and created our own symbols and 
that our commitment as a community requires the armed actors to 
respect our zones.

We believe, as well, that the State should not be merely be a military
presence but rather demonstrate their power through the District 
Attorney, Attorney General, and the  Defendor of the Towns 
(Defensor del Pueblos.) It is through these that we could receive 
support that would indirectly reactivate our economy.


We, also, recognize the Stateís responsibility and that it should 
provide food in order to reactiviate our economy so that we can 
successfully sustain ourselves.  We estimate that this would take at 
least six months  before we would reach this level.

It is clear that the zone in where we are at is a war zone.  As a result 
of this there have been times that we were able to work the land and 
times we were unable to.  The zone was in combat this past February 
and  consequently we were unable to harvest a part  of the bean 
crop.   We have  spoken about this for at least six months, but the 
public order impeded us many  times from reaching our 
communitarian objectives.  It came down to the  fact, however, that 
the planting or harvesting depended on the current  status of
the war.    In light of this adversity it is evident that we, campesinos,
like the civil population, are in the midst of the war.

We acknowledge that the ability to return depends much on 
ourselves.  The State, however, is also responsible for  support in 
diverse ways other  than military assistance such as maintaining the 
roads, health, education, housing, and food.  Again we have not 
recieved any support in these  areas in this year.

We  recognize that as a result of our resistance we have suffered the 
brutality of these groups and have been falsely accused.  We believe, 
though,  that our road is a significant one and the battlefield is not 
San Jose territory.  This is true not only for our region, but also the 
displaced of Turbo and Pavarando. We, as well, would like to 
acknowledge that their roads to peace are  very significant and  we 
offer our respect and support.

In conclusion, we, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, 
would like to share our hopes in the midst of this cruel war.  We 
reflect on the difficult times that we have experienced, the truth, and 
the  transparencies of the peace process, and the struggle for our life 
which the armed  actors have imposed on us.  With your support, 
however, we move forward.
>

>PUBLIC COMMUNICATION OF THE COMMUNITY OF PEACE
>OF SAN JOSE… DE APARTADO
>
>
>
>The Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado denounces the 
recent acts which were committed against residents of the region of 
San Jose de  Apartado by paramilitary forces.
>
>REYNALDO LARA RAMOS of 60 years of age, MIGUEL LARA of 17 
years and JUANITA OSORIO DE LARA of 58 years were assassinated 
and tortured in the  small village of Cano Seco on March 7 at 8 a.m.
>
>We also denounce the assassination of GERADO IDALGO of 58 years 
of age, who is originally from the village of Buenos Aires. He resided 
and was a respected member of the San Jose Community of Peace.  
IDALGO was assassinated by a paramilitary group on March 13 at 3 
p.m. in the neighborhood of Policarpa, two blocks from a Military 
Station, on the  road from San Jose de Apartado to Apartado.   The 
assassins left there car, stopped the public transportation vechicle 
and pointed their weapons  at the passengers. IDALGO was forced 
from the car and was assassinated  with a pistol.
>
>We demand that these deaths be investigated and that the armed 
actorsrespect the civil population and cease to assassinate.  We, also, 
expect ourneutrality to be respected by the armed groups.
>
>Please write
>
PRESIDENT SAMPER
FAX:011-571-284-2186, 289-3377, 286-7434

MINISTER OF DEFENSE,
DR. GILBERTO ECHEVERRI MEJIA
FAX:  011.571.222.1874

GOVERNOR OF ANTIOQUIA,
DR. ALBERTO BUILES ORTEGA
FAX:  011.574.381.1342

AMBASSADOR JUAN CARLOS ESGUERRA,
EMBASSY OF COLOMBIA
2118 LEROY PL. NW
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20008
>
>
>Also, on March 16 we met with Doctor Cesar Manuel Garcia of the 
Consejero de Desplazados or the Counsel of the Displaced which is a 
branch of  the Government.   The Counsel committed to assisting the 
San Jose de  Apartado Community in the following areas: 
communicating with the armed forces to respect the San Jose region 
and our return to the La Union; provide professors for the colegio in 
the La Union, supply various farming tools, assist in reconstructing 
the damaged houses,  be responsible for providing frequent medical 
attention, and regulate the  previously promised food supplements.
>
>Please write and thank him for the Counsel's committment to meet 
theseessential needs.  Please remind Dr. Garcia of the importance of 
fulfilling these commitments.
>
>Doctor Cesar Manuel Garcia
 Fax:  337.1339


>
>
======================================================

 San Jose de Apartado, Marzo 20 de 1.998



Senores
OFICINA DEL ALTO COMISIONADO DE NACIONES UNIDAS
Bogota


El dia de ayer, 19 de marzo, hacia las 2 de la tarde, en la Vereda la 
Union, miembros del Ejercito Nacional hurtaron machetes y 
herramientas pertenecientes a  la Comunidad de Paz de San Jose de 
Apartado e insultaron a los campesinos miembros de la Comunidad 
que alli se encontraban.

Este hecho  pone en riesgo la posibilidad de realizar el primer retorno 
a la Vereda la Union y se constituye en un atropello mas por parte de 
las Fuerzas Militares en contra de la Comunidad de Paz de San Jose 
de Apartado.

Solicitamos a Uds. presionen al Gobierno colombiano para que se 
respete el proceso de la Comunidad de Paz de San Jose de Apartado y 
la decision de realizar un primer retorno a la Vereda La Union.


Cordialmente


Consejo Interno de la Comunidad de Paz  de San Jose de Apartado.


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