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The Andromedan routine of San José de Apartadó

In recent days, Colombia and the whole world have been scandalised by the levels of corruption detected in the Colombian armed forces. Intelligence centres camouflaged behind restaurants, and who knows what other establishments, violate the Constitution, the law and International Treaties, walking all over the intimacy and the most sacred rights of citizens, and carry out perverse spying activities seeking to control, attack and destroy those who think or act in ways that are different to their criminal and excluding social projects. All this occurs daily in San José de Apartadó, where the armed forces has for over 17 years been seeking to destroy a Community which has ethical values which they want to destroy.

The facts registered over the last few days oblige us yet again to denounce them to the country and the world.

On Tuesday 4th February 2014, members of our Peace Community noted the presence of a group of soldiers who had been located in a plot of private land belonging to the Community in the rural area of Mulatos, where the troops had begun the construction of a helicopter landing pad and an encampment for them to sleep in. When a member of our Community, who was there carrying out maintenance of crops, found himself face to face with one of the soldiers, the soldier demanded in a threatening way that he leave the plot of land, thus ignoring the fact that it was the army which was there illegally and should leave the land immediately. It was impossible to make the troops see that they were violating constitutional rights, and in an arrogant and flagrant way they continued constructing the heli-pad and the encampment. Several days later when they left the plot of land, they stole crops that the Community had grown. The heli-pad caused destruction in the forest and on the mountain.

On Saturday 8th February 2015, WBER AREIZA, member of our Peace Community, who was retained on this day for several hours by members of the army as he was on his way through the town of San José to go to the settlement of La Unión where he lives, was freed after an intervention by a group of members of the Community who demanded that the official explain this arbitrariness. On finding himself without any excuse to justify his transgression, the solider decided to deny that he had retained Wber, which led to the Community inviting him to carry on his way. However, some minutes later, the soldiers and policemen present in the town went after him and retained him again, demanding that a family member of his present themselves and identify him. Such a procedure is used routinely by the paramilitaries, and violates Constitutional Court Sentence 1206/01, which firmly forbids registering civilians in this way. When the Community went again to demand respect for their constitutional rights, the soldiers and police tried to separate the children from the adults, alleging that the protest of the group was setting a “bad example” for the children, ignoring the fact that the real bad example is the transgression by state agents and violation of human and constitutional rights.

On Tuesday 11th February 2014, an artefact exploded in the town of San José, close to the military base, located in the midst of the civilian population, putting it yet again in high risk. Once again we can see the grave consequences of the government’s failure to comply with the orders of the Constitutional Court and Council of State which in reiterated sentences have demanded that bases and stations be removed from nearby the civilian population.

On 12th February 2014, the President of the Italian Network of Solidarity with Colombia, international human rights association twinned with our Peace Community, was served a writ by the Executive Secretary of the PROVINCIAL STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE OF APARTADÓ, Mr FREDY SALAZAR IBANEZ, in document IUS 2013-428785, saying that because he refused to come to Colombia to give evidence about the abuses of the Police against our Peace Community – about which the Network had requested that the Colombian justice system carry out investigations to prevent impunity – the request was archived without possibility to appeal. It is as naked as this, the perverse mechanism used by the Attorney’s Office to guarantee impunity: seeking witnesses in foreign countries, who of course were not present in the moment of the crime, and avoid finding witnesses who were present on the day, time and place of the crimes, with the objective of alleging that it was impossible to get proof.

On Thursday 13th February 2014, soldiers from the San José military base confronted Diana Higuita, inhabitant of the settlement of La Unión, showing her photos of several people of the region, including her partner, saying that they had an arrest warrant against him, but that they wanted to invite him to work with them as an informant, and would thus win juicy compensation for his labour.

On Friday 14th February 2014, towards 15:00, a group of soldiers robbed members of our Peace Community in the settlement of La Unión.

On Sunday 16th February 2014, towards 23:00, there was an attack to the military base located in the place known as La Antena, next to the town of San José. Yet again we can see the consequences of the government’s stubborn failure to comply with the orders of its own judicial system.

On Sunday 18th February 2014, a high ranking solider of the region, on a local radio station, said that the demand by the ex Mayor of Apartadó, Gloria Isabel Cuartas, that the military and police bases be removed from the town of San José de Apartadó, was disrespectful, ignoring that it was not the ex Mayor who had given this order but the highest courts of the nation.

On Friday 21st February 2014, towards 4:00, a group of soldiers camped in the Community settlement of San Josecito, taking advantage of the fact that the majority of the members of the Community were not in the settlement, but in a commemoration of the horrendous massacre of 8 members of our Peace Community carried out by the army in company with paramilitaries. The soldiers put their weapons in our houses and as dawn broke they were walking round our houses.

On Saturday 22nd Februrary 2014, towards 16:00, troops of the army invaded lands of our Peace Community in the settlement of San Josecito. When a large group of the Community approached them and asked for explanations, the soldiers alleged that they didn’t know it was private property, despite the fact that it was duly fenced. When the protest of the Community, and of national and international accompaniers, obliged them to leave the land, they went to another plot of land of the Community where we grow cacao, and were going to build an encampment there. The presence of several Community members made them leave this second place quickly, but they left a suspicious package hanging from a tree which scared the Community, as normally children and adults work in this place.

In recent weeks, paramilitaries have been driving the construction of houses and recreational activities in the rural settlements of Rodoxaly and Sabaleta. The recognised and well-known paramilitary from the region, alias “PANELO”, who for some time was housed in the 17th Brigade of the army, has been put in charge of coordinating the sporting activities which aim to achieve an exhaustive control of the civilian population.

As is evident, the corruption which has caused so much scandal, affecting the highest authorities and personalities, is something that we suffer on a daily basis.

“If they do this on the young tree, what will they do on the dry tree?”

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

26 February 2014