Colombian paramilitaries growing large scale coca plantations with tacit support from 17th Brigade

In the midst of the military control that the 17th brigade claims to have established in Curbaradó Jiguamiandó, the planting of coca by paramilitaries and their movement within the territories of Afro-Colombian communities continue.

Translation by Duane Ediger

Cocaine labs are in full swing at the boundary between the collective territories in the villages of Santa Rosa, El Limón, Curbaradó and Vigia. Raw materials for coca processing continue passing through military checkpoints located at Brisas de Curbaradó, Camelias and Anadalucía Caño Claro. According to witnesses, the same trucks bring in the materials as happened this morning. During the last week the same trucks transported cocaine to the municipality of Mutata by night.

A week after the disappearance of Everto Gonzalez, an employee of the managers of the “La Tukeka” company was observed within the group of paramilitaries that operates in Gengadó Medio, the site of [Gonzalez’s] forced disappearance. The employee was carrying a rifle.

The military who generally operate checkpoints remove themselves at times when the trucks enter or leave the collective territory.

At the same time, paramilitaries under the command of alias “El Mono” who circulate between Santa Rosa de El Limon, Vigia de Curbaradó, Santafe de Churima, Jiguamiandó, Andalucía Caño Claro, Curbaradó in groups of between 17 and 100 paramilitaries, continue intimidating residents, asking for the leaders who have made denunciations and asserting that their presence ensures the communities’ progress of agreements with communities and agreements with businesses for large-scale coca, palm and banana cultivation and cattle ranching.

The paramilitary forces that have circulated between the towns of Cetino and Llano Rico in Curbaradó – whose numbers witnesses have estimated at 300 – has begun to promote and protect coca crops between Apartadocito and Llano Rico. According to the affected families about 3 hectares have been planted with coca in the last two weeks. Residents are expecting that cocaine labs will be installed. The 300 paramilitaries tend to be scattered between Cetino and Llano Rico. In the mountains there is a encampment and in the plains the go about in civilian dress or move in groups no larger than 30 people.

According to a source who has access to the paramilitaries, they have made agreements with military, police and business sectors to postpone their actions against the population, citing the cost of allegations leveled against them. The source maintains that the business sectors continue to be set on controlling the census process and deciding on the choice of legal representative of Curbaradó. “We have invested a lot of money and we’re not going to lose it,” say the businesspeople.

The members of the community council with land claims continue to be targeted by paramilitary operations with intermittent checkpoints set up on some roads leading to Matuta or Belen de Bajirá and to Brisas de Curbaradó. Paramilitaries have retained local council members in Belen de Bajirá and have traveled by water in the Jiguamiandó River and on land of the Humanitarian Zones of Caracoli, El Tesoro Camelias, El Tesoro and Llano Rico, as occurred on August 19 and 20.

Similarly, Luis Ferias, Community Council member in Curbaradó, was harassed by two armed men who, after [original Spanish unclear], fled seeking refuge in land occupied in bad faith since December 2010 by invaders supported by businesspeople and paramilitary forces.

Despite persistent alerts and communications to high government officials, paramilitaries continue undertaking actions that presume to have defined terms of use of collectively held property once the restitution of collective ownership is legally enacted.

August 23, 2011

Inter-Ecclesiastic Commission for Justice and Peace