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
>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
>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.
FAX:011-571-284-2186, 289-3377, 286-7434
MINISTER OF DEFENSE,
DR. GILBERTO ECHEVERRI MEJIA
GOVERNOR OF ANTIOQUIA,
DR. ALBERTO BUILES ORTEGA
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
San Jose de Apartado, Marzo 20 de 1.998
OFICINA DEL ALTO COMISIONADO DE NACIONES UNIDAS
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
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.
Consejo Interno de la Comunidad de Paz de San Jose de Apartado.
March 1998 News |
San Jose |