-Tuesday, January 31, 2012, army troops were moving between the rural districts of Miramar and La Cristalina. Among these troops there were four hooded men, and also among them was an alias ?Muele Gallo,? a demobilized guerrilla fighter who went along threatening farmers and sending messages to everyone in the area that they will be evicted from the land in order to make way for coal mining operations.
Pendant plusieurs jours nous avons exposé des preuves de toutes les situations difficiles que nous vivons en ce moment au sein de la Communauté de Paix de San José de Apartadó. Malgré tout, l'Etat reste en spectateur et complice de toutes ces opérations.
Nos rapports et alertes se succèdent, sans réponse d’aucune institution de l'Etat, démontrant ainsi leur manque d’intérêt pour les opérations intenses des paramilitaires, qui agissent comme un bras armé, en pleine coordination avec la force publique. Les paramilitaires insistent pour nous soumettre à eux sous la menace qu'ils vont nous exterminer. Nous n'allons pas nous soumettre, et une fois encore, nous rendons responsable le gouvernement comme entièrement responsable de l'horreur qu'ils nous imposent.
In the last few days we have been reporting on the very difficult situations that we are faced with in the area of our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó; in spite of everything, the State continues being a spectator and an accomplice to all that is happening.
-Today, November 28, around 200 paramilitaries arrived in the rural district of La Esperanza where they have confined the people for several hours, locking them up incommunicado inside the health center. There, according to them, they are going through the background of each person. They have also said that they will stay there and they will be in charge and control everything. They said that they have bought several farms in Playa Larga and the order is that they need the farms, and the owners must sell whether they like it or not. They have already bought three large farms where they will have their bases in Playa Larga and they say that they will do the same in all of the rural districts.
Our reports and alerts follow one after the other without any part of the State showing any concern for the intense actions of the paramilitaries, who act as an armed group in full coordination with the State security forces. The paramilitaries insist that we submit to them under the threat that they will destroy us. We will not submit, and once again we recognize the government as fully responsible for the horrors that they are subjecting us to. President Santos has been informed of all of these horrors in great detail and he refuses to act. The paramilitary bases are still intact and protected by the State security forces. We continue to publish reports for the historical record and we are sure that people of conscience continue with us in moral resistance to so much disgrace. We report the following events:
- On Monday, November 14, 2011, around 6:00pm, 30 paramilitaries arrived in the rural district of La Esperanza with long guns and in civilian clothing. They entered people's homes, including homes belonging to families that are part of our Peace Community. Once again they repeated their message: those who do not submit to them and work with them will have to leave or die; from now on they will act more forcefully.
1. We distance ourselves ethically from the families who accept money as a payment for the crimes that have been perpetrated against their loved ones, while they resign themselves to the fact that there will be no justice; that the crimes will remain in total impunity; that the perpetrators are still in the government, in the state security forces or running criminal businesses, and while the paramilitary structures that assist the State with its criminal strategies remain intact and active.
2. Signing an agreement which aims to use money to cover up any demand for justice and reparation for so many lives that have been cruelly destroyed, in an area that was particularly affected by the brutality of the perpetrators who are entrenched in power, means giving in to the most shameless bribe that is trying to buy the consciences of the mourners and the dignity of the victims.
3. The region of Urabá was witness to the extremely cruel destruction of social organizations, labor unions, human rights groups, alternative journalism, opposition political parties, social and community leaders, and attempts at creating an economy based on solidarity. To allow money to erase all of the memory of that disgrace and to bury any longing for justice, is to turn into a degenerate society that allows parents to sell their children; children to sell their fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters to sell their siblings, like recyclable junk in a filthy market.
4. Our Peace Community has suffered horrors during the last fifteen years: massacres and murders of several hundred of our members; forced disappearances; indiscriminate bombings; burning of houses and crops; pillaging of our basic goods; rape of our women; forced and massive displacements, almost constant threats of death and destruction; economic blockades and prevention of access to food; illegal detentions; baseless prosecutions; rigged prosecutions that are based on false testimony that is bought with money; stealing of computers; prolonged illegal surveillance; illegal wire taps; slander and defamation campaigns; illegal searches and registrations; expropriation of land and goods belonging to displaced people; destruction of our sacred sites; illegal filming and photographing; destruction of schools and health centers; stealing and destruction of generators; illegal military occupation of land, homes and community spaces; stealing of work animals and domestic animals; pillage of the meager supplies in our homes; and creation of paramilitary structures to constantly infiltrate and intimidate our families with people who are bribed and whose moral consciences have been destroyed. The worst part is that the Presidents on watch have been immediately informed and they have refused to comply with the Constitution which requires them to guarantee the rights of the citizens.
5. For all of these years, all of our testimonies have been fruitless. Testifying before the judicial system has done nothing but cause those who testify to be murdered, stigmatized, subjected to baseless prosecutions, threatened or forcibly displaced. The government and the armed forces have defied the resolutions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the sentences of the Constitutional Court. The officials that they have designated to command the state security forces in the area do not respect the Constitution nor the laws nor International Law and they act in opposition to the most fundamental principles of universal ethics.
6. Our Peace Community has had to organize mass returns of displaced people to their lands, not only relying on our own efforts and resources but also running enormous risks of having to face the hostile armed forces of the State and the paramilitaries which have always operated and coordinated together. Denied resources from the State that we have rights to as taxpayers, we have had to solve our most urgent needs alone, but we have done so thanks to community solidarity and our sister communities in other countries that have recognized our struggle and shared our ethical principles.
7. We believe that trying to bury so many horrendous crimes in money while the structures that perpetrated them remain intact and their participants in impunity, is a giant and aberrant bribe. Once again we implore of the president and his ministers and officials: FIRST ADDRESS ALL OF THE INJUSTICE. Purge the government and the State of all of the criminals, especially the state security forces and the so-called ?security? organizations that are essentially about creating ?insecurity.? Clean up the judicial system from the rotten state that it is in. Reestablish the dignity of the victims and rebuild everything that you have destroyed. Swear real, not false, respect for the Constitution and the laws. RESPECT HUMAN DIGNITY. MAKE AMENDS TO THE VICTIMS AND THOSE WHO MOURN THEM. Then think about paying, because to pay before that is to commit the most shameless BRIBE.
Once again we inform the country and the world of the way in which life is being destroyed around us:
-On Monday, July 25, 2011 around 6:00pm, two paramilitaries wearing civilian clothing and carrying small arms arrived at a farm ten minutes away from Tierra Amarilla, a place on the road between Apartadó and San José where state security forces and paramilitaries have perpetrated numerous crimes. There, 38 year old EDISON VALDEZ HIGUITA, who was working cutting wood, was murdered with two shots to the head by the two paramilitaries. After murdering him they left him on the ground and stole his chainsaw. The Community immediately requested the intervention of the Office of the Ombudsman to demand that the State oversight organizations pursue those responsible, protect the survivors and help the family of the victim, but the Ombudsman responded aggressively, reproaching the Peace Community for getting involved in cases that did not concern it because they did not involve any of its members.
Our Community has always defended our right to solidarity and has rejected and condemned the indifference and isolation that this society is trying to impose as a dominant cultural feature. This indifference and isolation facilitate human rights violations and the destruction of all community and humanitarian efforts. Given our history as a community that has been greatly victimized, and the solidarity that we have found in other groups of people from around the country and the world which have helped us to survive, the people around us come to us when they are subjected to affronts and horrors. We have the right to help them the same way that others have helped us. It is very unfortunate that it's the very OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, an organization designated by the Constitution to coordinate solidarity with the victims, that wants to condemn us for showing solidarity and refuses to comply with its duty to the victims.
-On Sunday, July 31, 2011, around 7:00pm, armed men approached a member of our Community on the path between San Josesito and La Unión, attempting to detain him and subject him to who know what affronts. Fortunately he ran and was able to escape.
These incidents show how dramatic the situation is, and demonstrate the great degradation that is happening in our area. The right to life and many other rights continue to be disrespected. Even worse, the State itself wants to silence us, to continue as an accomplice or sponsor of the criminals, and to prohibit us from working as human rights defenders in the area. We will not let them gag us because it is illegitimate and illegal. We will continue denouncing and demanding that the State comply with its constitutional duties.
"... So many times the paramilitaries, in close collaboration with the State security forces, announced the murders they would commit, using lies to distort everything as they have always done. What was previously described is now being carried out ..."
We share with you the letter sent by Peace Brigades International (PBI) to the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal in response to the accusations against the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in an article published by that newspaper on December 14th.
Peace Brigades International would like to express our deep concern regarding the contents of the article “The FARC and the Peace Community” (Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2009). Peace Brigades International emphatically rejects the article’s assertion that the leaders of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó are collaborators of the guerilla organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).