Occupiers of collective properties reveal the complicity of the 17th Brigade and Banacol

Two Biodiversity Zones affected, 122 hectares wiped away, 320 hectares trampled, a source of water affected, and 19 campsites installed are part of the damage caused by the invaders, bad-faith occupiers in the collective properties of Camelias in Curvaradó. There are threats to extend these to lands of Caracolí, Andalucía, and El Guamo, and to try to go all the way to the properties of the Alto Guayabal Indigenous Reserve.

The occupation of the properties is interpreted as a strategy to favor the sectors benefiting from paramilitarism or business sectors by hindering the restoration of the collective property.

Therefore, the paramilitaries have threatened the leaders of the community councils of the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones, telling them that if they are identified as providing information to the Commission of Justice and Peace and the “gringos”, they will be assassinated.

Among the occupiers are people who are used. Some are campesinos without land, others displaced from the land by paramilitarism in other regions of the country, and some are workers in the palm and banana plantations and repopulators (bad-faith occupiers) who are in the territory of Curvaradó.

The invaders act as victims, stating that the Afro-Colombians are landowners, that the national and international accompaniers are supporters of slavery and exploiters. They say they will not leave the collective properties because they need to work to eat, despite the environmental damage they cause.

Some of them say that, with the invasion of lands, they confront the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones that are fields of restriction and of violation of fundamental rights. With patriotic symbols and nationalist speeches, they say that they will not go because they count on supporters, among them those of the 17th Brigade, which advises them in the constitution of a legal status and the creation of boards of communal action, and of Banacol. They say that others, whom they don’t identify, provide them with resources for food, seeds, and other things, that they receive payment of up to 180,000 pesos ($90 US) for each hectare cleared.

The revelations of the bad-faith occupiers themselves indicate that what is occurring is a corrupt operation, supported by regular structures of the 17th Brigade and paramilitary sectors, commanded by Jaison Salinas in Brisas de Curvaradó, who operates barely two minutes from the military.

At the same time, police units in Carmen del Darién have carried out accusations against the residents of Curvaradó accusing them of conniving with the FARC guerrillas.
The bad-faith occupation has been consolidating because of the omissions, hesitations, and delays by the municipal authorities of Carmen del Darién, acting against what is right and ignoring the expressions of the national government.

The possible responsibility of Banacol in these illegal operations is a terrible precedent for the approval of free-trade agreements, against the principles of business ethics and the democracy stipulation of the EU.

For more information, read the constancia Curvaradó (Curvaradó documentation).

Bogotá, D.C. December 27, 2010

Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace