Invasion and threats continue in Curvaradó

The invasion and bad-faith occupation continue in Curvaradó, with paramilitary death threats, the consent of the 17th Brigade, accusations by the police, and failures of the civil authorities to fulfill their responsibilities.

Bogotá DC. December 27, 2010

Juan Manuel Santos
President of the Republic of Colombia

Germán Vargas Lleras
Interior Minister

María Angela Holguín
Foreign Minister

Juan Camilo Restrepo
Agriculture Minister

Guillermo Mendoza Diago
Attorney General of the Nation

Alejandro Ordóñez
Inspector General of the Nation

Volmar Pérez
National Ombudsman

Juan Manuel Ospina
Director of Incoder

Our Historical Documentation and Ethical Censure of the persistent bad-faith occupation of the collective properties of Curvaradó and the damages caused to the Biodiversity Zones of the members of the community council of Camelias, as part of a strategy that favors sectors benefiting from paramilitarism by trying to hinder the restoration of the collective property.

The planning of this perverse strategy includes the use of some landless campesinos, of some whose land was taken away by paramilitaries in other parts of the country, of some workers in the palm and banana companies, of some repopulators (bad-faith occupiers) who have been in the Curvaradó territory for more than two years.

All, under the noble proposition of demanding the right to the land in the framework of the Christmas holidays, directed, guided, and driven by criminal structures, acting as victims, assert that Afro-Colombians are landowners, that their national and international accompaniers are slavery advocates and exploiters, and that they will not leave the collective properties because they need to work and eat despite the environmental damages that they produce. With the land invasion, they insist, they confront the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones that are fields of restriction and a violation of fundamental rights.

With patriotic symbols and nationalistic talk, the repopulators insist that they will not leave because they count on supporters, among them the 17th Brigade, that advises them in constituting a legal status and creating boards of communal action. They insist that others, whom they don’t identify, provide them with resources for food and seeds. Some specify that this refers to Banacol and others say that some receive payments as high as 180 thousand pesos ($90 U.S.) for each hectare cleared.

Two or three groups have been identified, that daily come from Brisas de Curvaradó and Belen de Bajirá, who have been installed for two years by the palm companies as bad-faith occupiers in properties of Camilias, and who come from El Tomate, San Pedro de Urabá and Sucre.

The revelations from the bad-faith occupiers themselves, indicate that what is occurring is a corrupt operation, supported by regular structures. On one side are those from the 17th Brigade, who provide advice and whom they invoke when they are told to leave the collective territory. But at the same time, they receive support from sectors of the paramilitary situated scarcely two minutes from the military in Brisas de Curvaradó, supported by omissions and voluntary appointments from the police of Urabá, with hesitations and delays by municipal authorities in Carmen del Darién. They act against what is right and ignore the expressions of the national government.

Questions arise, therefore, about the support on which these bad-faith occupiers rely, and the reasons for this support.

The invaders, bad-faith occupiers, have affected territorial spaces designated for environmental protection and recuperation of ecosystems and of some subsistence crops, without the responsible authorities at the municipal level having given a response to the police complaints lodged by those directly affected and by the requirements of the national government.

Is it just a coincidence that the authorities are not present, or that they excuse themselves for not giving an effective response to the complaint?

In the past, these same authorities at the municipal level, when the bad-faith occupiers and companies benefiting from paramilitarism lodged police complaints against their victims, from whom they took the land, they immediately protected their interests against what is right, ordering the dispossession of the legitimate owner of the property, as occurred with the families of Caracolí. And it should not be forgotten that the bad-faith occupiers succeeded with the police of Urabá, in accusing their victims of an offense of tumultuous hostility. Now when it’s the victims of violent dispossession who rightfully lodge a complaint, the municipal authorities do not act with that effectiveness and promptness.

Even more, the police authorities stigmatize the population and keep an absolute silence about the outrages, the 17th Brigade stimulates the occupation, and the civil authorities justify their inactivity, claiming ignorance of the situation.

Therefore, insofar as a posture of the national government is perceived, several questions arise:

Is it possible to restore the collective property without a structural purge of the 17th Brigade and the Urabá police?

Is it possible to restore the property without a surgical intervention regarding business, social, cultural, and political paramilitarism?

Will it not be equally necessary for the national government to intervene under a special mechanism over the civil authorities with its absolute control or partial substitution of the functions in the matter of the lands until the restitution and inhabitation of the lands with full guarantees has taken place?

You can respond, yes or no, since you know the fundamental facts of this Historical Documentation?

Wednesday, December 15 about 8:00 a.m. in Belén de Bajirá, in a public place, a paramilitary from Águilas Negras stated that “somebody named Alfonso, the leader of Caño Manso, was the one who prevented a resolution of the problems with the boss. If the community negotiates, everything is resolved. We know that sometimes he goes out with the gringos and sometimes he goes out alone. He is seen in Brisas and in Bajirá. When he becomes careless, we will bring him down.”

Friday, December 17 in the morning, in the county seat of Carmen del Darién, delegates from the lower council of Camelias, represented by Wilson Martinez and Simona Torres, in the absence of the police inspector of Carmen del Darién, Luz del Carmen Londoño, presented to the police commander Ortiz Castillo, the complaint about the invasion, bad-faith occupation, in Camelias and Andalucía.

The affected properties that were designated by the lower community council of Camelias as areas of forest reserve and were affected by clearing, blockage of water sources, and demarcation of lots with machete marks on trees, have been traditionally inhabited by the Tuberquía, Martinez, Guzmán, and Ibarguén families for more than 40 years.

In the afternoon, in Brisas de Curvaradó, paramilitaries of Águilas Negras under the command of Jaison Salinas prohibited river traffic on the Curvaradó River starting at 6:00 p.m. This decision was known and accepted by the military, which were less than two minutes away crossing the Curvaradó River, upstream on the right, according to the paramilitaries.

The paramilitaries asserted that, as in the past, the selling of products such as bananas, platanos (plantains) and lumber is restricted and should be authorized by them. The paramilitaries threatened to steal the motors and boats of those who do not comply with these provisions.

All the residents of the minor councils who live in the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones of Caracolí, Caño Manso, Argenito Diaz, and El Guamo see themselves affected by this threat and prohibition. Some of the inhabitants were subsequently threatened for disobeying this order.

Saturday, December 18 at 10am in Belén de Bairá delegates of the lower community council of Camelias filed the same lawsuit to the police inspector of Belén de Bajirá, Darío Novoa, in the absence of the inspector of Carmen del Darién. The Afro-mestizo inhabitants gave Novoa the telephone number for Lieutenant Hungría in order for them to coordinate preventative actions in response to the bad-faith occupiers.

At 12:05 pm, the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law program of the Vice President of the Republic reported that members of the military said that they were required to complete an order for a police inspection of Carmen del Darién.

At about 4:00 pm, members of the lower council of Camelias observed about one hundred bad-faith occupiers move in from Brisas de Curvaradó with minor appliances and other things.

Later the same day at around 4:30 pm, the Inspector of Carmen del Darién, Luz Londoño was located in Quibó for a national government function. Londonó stated that she needed the community to communicate directly with her in order to determine the invasion of the community and proceed to verify the occupation.

Ten days have passed since this communication, with the municipal inspector yet to fulfill her constitutional duties.

Sunday December 19 at 9am a delegation of twenty members of the lower council of Camelias, left the Humanitarian Zone of Camelias for the location known as La Cristalina, where there are several Biodiversity Zones.

In this location, they observed four bad-faith occupiers who hid themselves when they noticed the arrival of the farmers. On the properties, seventeen areas of 2 ½ hectares were marked off.
At about 11am, according to information provided by one of the bad-faith occupiers who was spotted in La Cristalina the same day by members of the lower council of Camelias, up to that point, there had only been about seventy-five people working in the occupation.

He said that since Monday, December 20th, eighty more people joined, with a projection of three hundred more joining in the coming days. He said that they planned to meet in Caño Claro to strengthen the occupations with the bad-faith occupiers that have resided for the past two years within the territory of the lower community council of Andalucía.

About 3:00 pm, one of the members of the lower council affected by the invasion of their properties, communicated by telephone with Londoño, the inspector of Carmen del Darién, who said that she didn’t know about the situation.

The official assured that she would arrive at the Curvaradó county seat no later than Monday the 27th or Tuesday the 28th, and stated that then she would evaluate what to do; and that at that time, “it was all out of her hands.”

At 7:00 pm, it was discovered that the paramilitaries strengthened their checkpoint on the highway that goes from Belén de Bajirá to Ríosucio. As a means of control and permanent presence in Bocas de Curvaradó they installed a new checkpoint in the place known as Florida. At the checkpoint twelve men remain at all times, some obviously armed and others in civilian clothes.

Monday, December 20 at 8:30am our Commission of Justice and Peace contacted the inspector, Londoño, to send a copy of the lawsuit submitted by the community in Carmen del Darién. The official said that she was busy in meetings in Quibdó.

This same day in the morning, according to some radio listeners in the region, they sent a series of congratulatory messages via the Bajirá radio station to the occupiers, who were identified as beneficiaries of “The Christmas Plots.”

From the Santa María hamlet, fifteen minutes from Brisas de Curvaradó, jurisdiction of the municipality of Ríosucio, they informed the inhabitants that there was an open possibility of an expansion of land, subdivision and land allocation through Incoder, in a plan for Christmas in the area of Camelias. To this end, those interested were advised to be in Brisas de Curvaradó and Camelias as soon as possible.

Some of the inhabitants of the region, who have been parceling the land, such as Sister Teresa Castaño, under the veil of peasant associations and the program Colombia sin Hambre (Hunger Free Colombia), communicated with members of the lower council of Camelias to get information about this issue of the delivery of lands within the plan of “Christmas Parcels.”

At 9:30am members of the community council of Camelias went to the post commander of Brigade Seventeen in Brisas de Curvaradó, Lieutenant Hungría, with the lawsuit filed to the municipal inspector of Carmen de Darién. They told Hungría that they would mobilize themselves in the occupied territory to demand the departure of the invaders.

The regular soldier asked them to not enter the occupied lands because there were many invaders, and that they were already aware of the situation and had to register the people who were invading. The military said it would advance the eviction on December 21st with participation from the police, DAS, and the military.

At 10:30am some of the invaders that were confronted by the members of the lower council of Camelias confirmed that there were people from Lorica, Chigorodó, Apartadó, Brisas de Curvaradó, San José de Mulatos and other places, and that their coordinators informed them that there would be close to five hundred people total occupying the properties. They expressed that they felt led by Antoliano González, Miguel Jiménez, Rodrigo Monroy, someone named Américo Latino, Domingo N.N, Gustavo Martínez and Andres Moreno.

At 6:10pm in Brisas de Curvaradó paramilitaries prevented Celedonio Martínez and Francisco Martínez, members of the lower community council of Camelias that live in the Humanitarian Zone of Camelias, from crossing the Curvaradó river from the left bank to the right.
On the riverbank, Jaison Salinas, known as “El Llanta” (The Wheel), said that he had ordered a ban on transit by the Curvaradó River weeks ago.

After a few minutes of waiting, inhabitants of Llano Rico arrived in Brisas de Curvaradó, soliciting the authorization of the paramilitary in charge, to cross the river. They had with them perishable foods. “El Llanta” took his cell phone and was heard saying: “Lieutenant, I’m sending ten people. Some are from Llano Rico and others from Camelias. Please, let me let them cross.” Across the river in command was Lieutenant Hungría.

A few minutes later, the farmers boarded the boat to cross over.

Tuesday December 21 at 8:30am our Commission of Justice and Peace was informed by a witness, that, a few days back at 4pm in Brisas de Curvaradó, observed Águilas Negras (Black Eagles) paramilitaries summon residents of Curvaradó from diverse sectors to a meeting in a house one hundred meters from the store.

At the meeting, Jaison Salinas said that they had called for them because they were going to divide up a piece of land. Each person will take his or her plot and later Incoder will legalize it. If you chose to enter, “you must fight the land and love her.” And that if you plan to enter, tell him, indicating Antoliano González.

In the meeting Miguel Jiménez spoke: “he who wants land should give his ass and he will be backed by the Banacol company. He who enters the agreement will receive supplies for three months to work, they will receive seeds and payment for all the labor. Jaison affirmed that he who wishes to leave after a while, will have to pay a sum of money and abandon the plot.”

At the end of the meeting they said that nothing will happen to anyone and that the parceling of the land will have a lot of support: “the land is there to work it, and there is a lot of abandoned land there, and he who is going to enter there must be ready.”

Around 9:30am the delegate of the Vice President that tracks the issue, said that there was no eviction order given to Brigade Seventeen. He said that he would communicate with the police inspector of Belén de Bajirá to see possibilities of his intervention in the absence of the inspector of Carmen del Darién.

About 10:00am members of the lower council of Camelias again went to Lieutenant Hungría and gave him a copy of the complaint filed about the police inspection of Carmen del Darién and Belén de Bajirá. The Lieutenant said that the inspector of Belén de Bajirá told him that what was filed was not a complaint.

At about 1pm the members of the lower council of Camelias communicated by telephone with the police inspector of Belén de Bajirá, Darío Novoa. He said that at 4:00pm he received the denunciation of the bad-faith invasion and occupation. At that time, he told them that he could not accept the complaint because it wasn’t under his jurisdiction.

At 5:00 pm, the central government official from the Vice President’s Office said that the inspector of Carmen del Darién was not responding by telephone.

Simultaneously, another bad-faith occupier, said that the organized plan includes entering the properties of the community council of Caracolí and El Guamo, where currently the family of Nubia Palacios lives, the widow of the Afro-Colombian, Orlando Valencia, who was assassinated in October of 2003. Also living there is the González family of the lower council of Caracolí. These properties were illegally occupied by the Palmado company.

Wednesday, December 22 a delegation of the lower council of Camelias and the lower council of Caracolí, with two international accompaniers, went to the municipality of Carmen del Darién to file the complaint.

There they met with the mayor of the municipality, Adán Córdoba Palacios, and the government secretary, Edilberto Romaña. In the meeting, some of the officials emphasized that the proceedings would be slow and that if the national government knew of the situation, they would want the communities to communicate directly with them.

The mayor specified that they had the right to vacations, that in order to carry out any action, they would have to investigate who are the people who are participating in the occupation. After the community delegates insisted on the need for action, the mayor said that the situation would be resolved by Christmas.

The police escorted the delegation in all of their negotiations in Carmen del Darién, including the police lieutenant of Carmen del Darién. He told them that he didn’t understand why the guerrilla had permitted the territory invasion. To this assertion, members of the delegation clearly responded that the invasion was a signal to those who inhabit the territory of Curvaradó. When the inhabitants demanded respect from the police lieutenant, he moved back into his stream of slanders about the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zones.

Around 5:00pm the government secretary of Carmen del Darién, Edilberto Romaña Blandón, in communication with the vice president, said that the absence of the police inspector was the problem and equally the mayor’s responsibility. The central government official suggested that they could delegate the inspector of Belén de Bajirá, with whom they had already communicated, to fully understand and undertake the situation.

Thursday, December 23 at 10:30am one of the bad-faith occupants told a community council member that the intention of the coming work days is to parcel up the properties of the indigenous woman, Rosita Cabrera Bailarín and the afro-mestizos, Pedro Valencia and Antonio María Villaba. He reiterated that they have the support of Army Brigade Seventeen and that the objective is to parcel collective territory all the way to the mountain Cara de Perro.

Saturday, December 25 between 10:30am and 4:00pm community members discovered that collective properties of members of the lower council of Camelias, specifically two Biodiversity Zones, had been invaded and property damage had occurred. Of the Tuberquía family, three hectares had been cleared, eighty hectares trampled and one spring was affected. Of the Ibarguén family, three hectares were cleared and one hundred hectares trampled. Of the Valencia family, one hundred fifty hectares were measured. And of the Guzmán family, twelve hectares were worked on and sixty hectares trampled. In the parcels on the land of the Valencia family, 19 temporary shacks were built.

The members of the community council of Camelias, for a second time, asked the bad-faith occupiers to leave their territory. The occupiers responded that they will not leave the territory, and taunted the community to “bring Incoder ,” “bring the President,” “prove to us that you are the owners.” They continued, “you walk with the gringos and don’t let anyone come to where you live. When a family member comes, not even they can come to greet you in your home without full community permission.” “You all have a lot of land and don’t use it.”

The community council gave the bad-faith occupiers the statement issued by the director of Incoder regarding the illegal occupation of the Curvaradó territory and the legal implications of this type of action in collective territory and forest reserves.

The bad-faith occupiers threateningly advised the members of the lower community council that, “if you mess with the huts, we won’t be responsible.” And one of them made the gesture of using a machete on one of the members of the council.

At 9:45pm by way of a telephone conversation, it was learned that the bad-faith occupant, Antoliano González, had told a group of people from Curvaradó that he was in charge of about one hundred people of the illegal occupation of the communal lands of Camelias and Andalucía.

Antoliano maintained that their actions were promoted, supported and backed by Army Brigade Seventeen and therefore “they were not afraid.” González said that the military soldiers told him that he should accelerate the establishment of legal status of the organization of the bad-faith occupiers.

Sunday, December 26th around 10am a soldier from Army Brigade Seventeen in charge of the Andalucía check point, Caño Claro in Curvaradó, recognized the community council member, Enrique Petro, who had met with the bad-faith occupiers in Andalucía to encourage the legalization of their place of settlement by establishing legal status and a community action board.

At about 12:00pm one of the bad-faith occupants that has been occupying collective property of the lower council of Camelias, said that the soldiers of Brigade Seventeen located in Brisas de Curvaradó, support them and therefore they are not going to withdraw.
According to the bad-faith occupant, they offered them land and support them with food while they plant. And that, in accordance with the coordinators, one of the soldiers said they should not withdraw from the territory that they have been occupying in bad-faith and should ignore the requests of the community council of Camelias and the four families that have been affected so far.

At approximately 6pm, a resident of the lower community council of Camelias, who was going to the Humanitarian Zone, had his boat rammed into, in Brisas de Curvaradó, on the right bank of the river downstream from Curvaradó, by Jaison Salinas. The paramilitary, Salinas, told the resident of Curvaradó that he had been informed of a warrant against him and that the Commission of Justice and Peace has denounced Salinas as one of the organizers of the invasion.

Salinas said, “if I see one of the those who inform the gringos, I’ll kill them. I swear it on my mother…” “We know that the leader of this community is Maria Ligia Chaverra. They are saying that I am the one promoting the invasion. I recognize that I am a paramilitary and I kill…”
As usual, the soldiers of Brigade Seventeen were on the left bank downstream on the Curvaradó River. A police patrol was also very close by to where the known paramilitary was located.

Monday, December 27th at 11:00am a bad-faith occupant informed a member of the lower community council of Camelias that on the previous day they had been visited by the army and someone from the police, who told them that they (the bad-faith occupiers) will work in what territory they had already taken, but not advance into new land.

Our Ethics Censure of the wrongful and remiss actions by the civil authorities’ and public security forces colluding the establishment and consolidation of a State opposed to what is right by law.

Our Ethics Censure of the sabotage and destruction, by means of continual delay and confusion, of the process of land restitution to the traditional and legitimate owners of the lower community councils.

Our Ethics Censure of the use and deception of landless peasants from other localities, to foster an environment of conflict against the members of the lower community councils that inhabit the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones, inspired to be a reservation for civil society, congruent with the rights in law 70 .

Our Ethics Censure of the evident complicity of the regular public security forces’ structures with paramilitary and paramilitarism beneficiaries’ operations.

Our Ethics Censure of the absence of an effective, systematic investigation by the National Attorney General, which enables the entrenchment of paramilitarism in various military, political, economic and social fields.

We believe, as these serious events are illuminated, that without the structural intervention of the central government to achieve full restitution and guarantees against repetition, facing the entrenched paramilitary logic and methods, the implementation and enforcement of the Constitutional Court order is impossible, and that compliance of the protection measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is also impossible.

The signs from the police, the actions of brigade seventeen, the coincidences with the unspeakable intentions of the paramilitary and their beneficiaries, and the omissions of local authorities have all been demonstrated.

In conformity with article 23 of the National Constitution and taking into account the known factual basis, we respectfully request your response to the following:

1. What measure will the Vice President of the Republic, responsible for human rights policy, adopt to confront the death threats given by paramilitaries to leaders of the lower community councils of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones? How will he assure the protection of the living spaces and environment of the members of the lower community councils that inhabit the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones?

2. What actions will be taken against the police officers of Carmen del Darién, including the police deputy, who stigmatized and slandered the people of Curvaradó and the lower community council of Camelias?

3. What measures will be adopted to confront the actions of Lieutenant Ungría and Lieutenant Peñalosa of army brigade seventeen, members of the Colombian military who are intervening with advice and the promotion of territory occupancy in bad-faith?

4. Will the National Attorney General undertake an investigation of the environmental damages and other damages produced by the bad-faith occupiers?

5. What actions will the National Attorney General take in response to the environmental damages and other damages produced by the bad-faith occupiers?

6. What actions will be carried out in response to the evident collusion of the Public Security Forces with the paramilitaries in Brisas de Curvaradó, Nuevo Oriente, Belén de Bajirá, León, Barranquillita, and Mutatá?

7. What measures will be adopted to confront the death threats given to human rights defenders of our Commission of Justice and Peace by Jaison Salinas?

8. What actions will the National Inspector General advance in regard to the illegal actions committed by the Police Inspector of Carmen del Darién, who has refused to comply with his constitutional and legal duty?

9. What disciplinary actions will the Inspector General take to investigate and punish public officials that by action and omission, according to the constitutional mandate, did not attend to the requests for the protection of rights by the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zones?

What actions will the President of the Republic, with maximum administrative authority and who under the Constitution has jurisdiction throughout all of the national territory in matters of public policy, take in order to ensure that local authorities do comply with their duty and respond in accordance to law to the requests by the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zones for the protection of their rights.

11. What corrective actions is the National Government going to implement to prevent irregularities and lack of effective response of local authorities that continue to present themselves, and with them continue disregarding judicial orders and resolutions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights?

With profound worry,

Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace