Failed attack against a person reclaiming collective territories

Yesterday, Sunday, April 3, in the afternoon near the central park in Belén de Bajirá, an attack against Santander Nisperusa failed. Santander Nisperusa, 24 years old, is a member of the lower council of Caño Manso, reclaiming lands violently taken by paramilitaries since 1996.

Failure of the Vice President’s office to protect those persecuted and threatened for reclaiming lands.

Near the central park of Belén de Bajirá witnesses heard that the paramilitaries, under the command of the person known as “Tabaco,” on confirming the arrival of Santander at the edge of the city, ordered the implementation of an operation to assassinate him.

The timely warning by the witnesses and the circulation of police agents at that moment enabled Santander to flee the place where the paramilitaries were going and go into hiding, thus restricting his ability to travel. Thirty minutes later, the paramilitaries ordered an operation of “fishing” – or capture – on the route from Belén de Bajirá to his home in the Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone.

Santander, in the recent visit by the Ministers of Agriculture and Interior, denounced before the public officials the persistence of the paramilitary operations and he identified paramilitaries. He denounced to the official delegation the ongoing operations of the bad-faith occupiers with armed men who converse with members of the 17th Brigade.

The member of the lower council stated his concern about the existence of a list in the hands of the paramilitaries with the names of persons to be assassinated so that the businesses can continue. He also denounced the ongoing crimes carried out in the presence of the public security forces.

Santander, at the time that this report is being made public, still has had no official response to his request to prevent a repeat of the attack. This critical information was made known, three hours prior to the release of this document, to the human rights specialist in the Vice President’s Office, from which no response has been received yet.
This incident is added to others that have gone before, such as threats, business operations inside the communal territories, inaction and toleration by the public security forces of paramilitaries. These are situations that show how the Constitutional Court Order is being ignored.

The maintaining of agribusiness and extensive cattle ranching

Weeks ago, in Caracolí, Claudia Argote, a cattle-ranching businesswoman and bad-faith occupier, announced that she was exercising her property right by arming a group of 80 to 100 men to ensure enforcement. The properties claimed by Argote belong to the collective territory of Curvaradó.

Also, in Llano Rico, Apartadocito, and La Raya in the community of Caño Claro, businessmen such as William Ramirez, Lopera and Mejia, the last being director of La Subasta Ganadera de Urabá, mobilize their armed men in front of the army and the police, intimidating members of the lower council, in order to continue controlling the territory commercially and economically.

These businessmen continue operating in the region without the judicial authorities taking any effective action.

Instead of obeying the law, they continue ignoring it. While the Court Order requires the national government to order the cessation of new business operations in Curvaradó, Jesus Correa, director of the international trade company, UNIBAN, set up a new oil palm nursery in the population center of Cetino.

They have maintained the bad-faith occupation for more than 4 months.

Moreover, in the properties of the lower council of Camelias, the bad-faith occupiers, who entered the communal territory last December, continue their environmental destruction. The Colombian National Police have refused to carry out the eviction ordered two months ago by the Municipal Inspector. As was known from the start, paramilitaries and bad-faith occupiers counted on the support of the banana industry for their occupation.

For his part, Luis Mario Gaviria Vélez, brother of José Obdulio Gaviria [[Translators’ note: José Obdulio Gaviria was presidential advisor to former President Alvaro Uribe.]], speculated about the Court Order, calling on the communities to take a position, since his entity is of the opinion that [humanitarian] assistance to the Community Councils of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó should be cancelled.

Businessmen committing crimes despite being incarcerated

Witnesses, some of whom are linked to the criminal business, maintain that palm businessmen, among them Gabriel Jaime Sierra, in their defense strategy, are seeking to negotiate with their victims, whom they took lands from, so that they retract their denunciations in exchange for participating as associates in the agribusiness and extensive cattle ranching.

Sierra is under house arrest for the crimes of displacement, criminal conspiracy (with paramilitaries), and the environmental destruction in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.

More than 20 persons from 13 palm companies are linked as responsible in these crimes. Nevertheless, no substantive decisions have been made, allowing a large sector [of those responsible] to continue enjoying freedom, arming themselves, and making use of the collective property in an illegal manner.

Inte-Ecclesiastic Commission for Justice and Peace

April 4, 2011