Assassinations in Jiguamiandó, paramilitary presence, and coca-leaf planting in Curvaradó

Edward and Eder Agamez were assassinated by paramilitaries in Jiguamiandó, new forced displacements, persistent paramilitary presence, and coca-leaf cultivation and processing laboratories in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.

Bogotá, D.C., September 8, 2011

President of the Republic of Colombia

Interior Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Agriculture Minister

Minister of Justice


National Prosecutor General

National Inspector General

National Ombudsman

“The enemy boasted, “I will pursue and overtake them; I will divide the spoils.…” Exodus 15, 9

Our Historical Documentation and Ethics Censure of the assassinations of the brothers Eduar and Edwin Agamez Sánchez, community council members of Jiguamiandó, by paramilitaries that have operated in the collective territories since April. The collective territories are supposed to be returned to the Afro-Colombians. Our Historical Documentation and Ethics Censure of the forced displacement of four families by these same armed operations in Jiguamiandó, and of the death threats recently received by three land restitution leaders, making the total threatened over thirty five. We also document and censure the continued illegal business operations and bad-faith occupations in Curvaradó collective properties, and the mobilization of paramilitaries in this same collective territory.

Once again, our Historical Documentation arrives to your offices, showing the lack of minimal guarantees for the restitution of collective territories in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó because of the ineffectiveness of the 17th Brigade and the Urabá Police, who tolerate, permit and live with concealed paramilitary-type criminal strategies.

These crimes would have been avoided if effective measures of repression and prevention in order to protect the community council members inhabiting Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó had been implemented. Likewise, these crimes would have been avoided if there had been a purification of the Public Security Forces, through administrative and political measures from the high levels of executive power.

The following is our compilation of foundational facts of the grave situations that reflect the lack of guarantees to life and integrity and the lack of effective measures for property protection.

*Wednesday, August 24 at 2:00pm, in the vicinity of the Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone, members of the community council heard shots fired, without knowing the individual responsible; the 17th Brigade soldiers that exercise perimeter control returned the shots.
As you will remember, armed men or workers of the bad-faith occupiers, of the known organization Asoprobeba and of Luis Felipe Molano, continue operating there, ignoring the rights of lower community council members of Caño Manso.

This same day, at 9:00 pm they again heard more than fifteen shots fired. The military officer told members of the community council that they had shot at a shadow “that got two meters away from us.”
The following morning, the same military officer told Alfonso Saya, a lower council member, that they had shot at a dog and added that “if you think that I’m worthless, call the government to make me leave.”

*Sunday, August 28 at 11:30 am our Justice and Peace Commission was informed of the assassinations of Eder Agamez Sánchez, 23 years old, and Edward Agamez Sánchez, 27 years old, by paramilitaries.

On Friday, August 26, after midday, these two members of the Bella Flor Remacho community council in Jiguamiandó were detained by paramilitaries in the area known as Quebrada Pérez, fifteen minutes from the Jiguamiandó River. There the paramilitaries wanted to force the young men to transport them in their boat, but they refused. In response the paramilitaries moved the young men several meters and proceeded to assassinate them.

Approximately midday on Saturday, August 27, community council members found the dead bodies of their community members. Witnesses state that the bodies had signs of blows to the head from sticks, which caused their death.

At sunset, the community council members that had found the bodies, transported them to a location near the Caño Claro Andalucía Humanitarian Zone as requested by their relatives. They did not arrive to the desired location until 7:30 pm.

The paramilitaries claimed to inhabitants that they were mobilized in the afternoon in their work areas in Jiguamiandó to confront the guerrilla. They said that they were going to raid the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone in Jiguamiandó and that they would not let the people kick them out like they did several weeks before.

*Saturday, August 27 in the morning, a soldier from the 17th Brigade, sent by Corporal Ariza, approached the Caracolí community council member Paola de González, wife of the disappeared Eberto González, telling her that her husband was being held by armed men in the Las Menas hamlet. He stated that Eberto was restrained in chains, and that the military has not been able to advance the rescue operation in fear that it would endanger him.

*Wednesday, August 31 in the afternoon, we learned that the national government stated, based on information provided by Coronel Mejía commander of Tarea de Río Sucio, that Eduar and Edwin did not have any signs of torture or gunshots, “for this reason, it appears they drowned.”

*Thursday, September 1 at 4:00 pm the continued bad-faith occupation of the collective properties of Camelias, Curvaradó was verified. The invaders have been living and working on the properties of the Isaac Tuberquia Biodiversity Zone in Camelias. They have installed close to 85 dwellings, they have planted more than fifty hectares with bananas. Close to two hundred people go to the property to work on a daily basis.

Since December, this bad-faith occupation has been maintained, despite the eviction order by the Municipal Inspection and despite the police’s attempt to carry out the order, which in the end was a farce.
This same day at 8:00 pm, Bella Flor Remacho community council members heard gunshots and explosions close to the hamlet. This violent event provoked the forced displacement of four families to different locations in the collective territory.

*Friday, September 2 and Saturday, September 3 around 10:30 am the checkpoints that are usually established by the 17th Brigade outside of Andalucía Caño Claro, were positioned to control community council members. Later, when people came through transporting goods for cocaine processing in automobiles, these same military members did not exercise control.

*Tuesday, September 6 at 6:00 am, Camelias community council members were approached by paramilitaries carrying pistols, in the Brisas de Curvaradó port. The armed men threatened the council members and the inhabitants of the Camelias Humanitarian Zone, affirming that they plan to attack them.

At 5:00 pm our Justice and Peace Commission in Bogotá was informed that in the morning members of the Agamez family were forcibly displaced to the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone in Jiguamiandó by paramilitary operations in the work areas of Bella Flor Remacho community council members, Jiguamiandó.

Twelve days before, Eder and Edward Agamez, members of this same family, were assassinated by paramilitaries.

This same day, families of the Santa Fe de Churima community council, Jiguamiandó, observed the development of military operations with people wearing hoods. Upon seeing this event and the permanent paramilitary mobilization in their territory some families from this community council displaced themselves to the Caño Seco hamlet. In the same report by witnesses and victims of the paramilitary operations, they stated that the paramilitary mobilization continues between Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, under the command of the individual known as “El Mono”. This mobilization protects the transportation of materials for cocaine processing.

*Tuesday, September 6 around 5:00 am in the Brisas de Curvaradó port, Caracolí community council members were detained by paramilitaries while they were waiting for a family member coming from Belén de Bajirá. Among the detained were Edwin Garcia and two others. One of the paramilitaries pointed a pistol at them, demanding they identify themselves.
This paramilitary aggression occurred less than twenty meters from the location where the 17th Brigade of the military is permanently located.

* Wednesday, September 7 at 9:00 a.m., our Justice and Peace Commission was informed that the previous day, around one hundred soldiers of the 17th Brigade arrived to the outskirts of Bella Flor Remacho.

In the helicopter were some officials from the Prosecutor General’s office that were being guided by four people dressed in civilian clothing, two carrying digging shovels.
According to some of the witnesses, the community members recognized one of the guides as Gonzalo, who in late July participated in a checkpoint in Cetino, Curvaradó, in which he identified himself as a paramilitary from the “Autodedefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” (Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).

*Thursday, September 8 at 3:00 pm our Justice and Peace Commission was informed of the continuation of illegal operations by mining companies located between Urada and Jarapetó on the boundaries of and within the Embera Indigenous Reserves.
At the same time, we received information that paramilitaries who traveled by motorcycle on the road that goes from Pavarandó to Urada entered the places where the Afro-descendant population lives and intimidated them.

Thursday, September 8, at 5:00 p.m. our Justice and Peace Commission found out about the paramilitary threat against Caño Manso community council members: Andrés Medrano and Edgar de Jesús Ricardo.

On Wednesday, August 24, two paramilitaries came to the house of Tomás Mercado, where Andres and Edgar were located. The paramilitaries told them that they would be waiting for them outside. The paramilitaries pretended to leave the place, but they hid nearby in a wooded area. The following day, members of the Caño Manso Community Council who live in the Humanitarian Zone discovered some writing at their farm that said, “We were waiting for you until one o-clock.”

Thursday, September 8 at 5:11 p.m., on the property of the Llano Rico Community Council, two men in civilian clothing with pistols entered at 3:00 p.m. on a motorcycle and went up to the La Bonita farm, in Apartadocito. The men talked with the administrator for an hour and a half. There was no control by the military.
The paramilitaries continue mobilizing on the road between Pavarandó and Mutatá setting up checkpoints and controlling public and private transport.

Our Ethics Censure regarding the continuation of grave attacks on the lives and integrity of the community council members who are demanding the restitution of collective property, and regarding the lack of effective protective measures since last April when unusual paramilitary operations were confirmed in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó. This paramilitary group is currently comprised of about 500 men, who are responsible for two forced disappearances, two assassinations and forced displacements, and illegal operations and agricultural activity including the planting of coca and the processing of cocaine.

Our Ethics Censure regarding the evident omission at the highest level of the armed forces, and regarding the scandalous promotion of General Giraldo, when at least his professionalism should have been questioned. It has been during his command of the 17th Brigade, that the paramilitary expansion into the collective properties has been unprecedented. The tolerance, acquiescence, and commission by omission that remains today despite a succession of military commanders reflects the entrenchment of operational logics that infringe on the ethical norms of a warrior and military honor in a Democratic State of Law.

Our Ethics Censure regarding the military’s statements concerning the forced disappearance of Eberto González. These statements claim that they found him alive, a prisoner of the paramilitaries, and they are limited in their response to achieve his freedom. If what the soldiers of the 17th Brigade say is true, many questions arise about the sources of information, about the operative capacity and ability to take action of the search committee for persons presumably disappeared.

Our Ethics Censure regarding the institutional incapacity to carry out judicial administrative decisions, such as the eviction of the bad-faith occupiers, who since last December have occupied the properties of the Afro-descendant communities of Camelias in Curvaradó. There we see consolidation in the Isaac Tuberquia Biodiversity Zone of the paramilitaries and banana companies’ wager against the rights of the traditional inhabitants.

Our Ethics Censure regarding the continued illegal business operations, which don’t cease, but rather are maintained and further developed in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó. These operations include banana, cassava, palm, mining, and extensive ranching businesses, all contrary to the decisions of the Constitutional Court, which explicitly demands that they cease as long as the problems of protection and community representation have not been resolved.

The result has been to make it almost inopportune to request action to generate guarantees through Article 23 for the Afro-mestizos of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó. The failure to purge the public security forces, the lack of strategies that confront the entrenchment of paramilitaries, and the logic of the paramilitary operation in agribusiness and in political control are evident. The absence of effective, prompt, and timely investigations with penalties that correspond to the lived reality since 1996 has made possible the establishment of a criminal order. Without confronting these factors of concealed power, the restitution will be a chimera, and the unconstitutional order of things, sustained by the Constitutional Court, will continue being the last word in the Bajo Atrato.
With deep concern and indignation,

Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission