It’s been ten days since the paramilitaries that operate in the Turbo Port in Antioquia and the Ríosucio municipality ordered river transporters to not bring in food supplies to the Afro-descendent and Indigenous residents of Cacarica.
The paramilitaries said that those who want to bring in food must personally present themselves in Turbo, and that they do not accept the entry of food on behalf of another person.
Equally, they are charging the transporters a fee for immunity, demanding that they hand over between 40 and 60 gallons of gasoline as payment to travel along the Atrato River between Turbo and Cacarica. They announced that they entered the Cacarica collective territories because the population is with the guerrilla and they need to assure the progress and development of the region.
A few days ago, paramilitaries detained community council members associated with CAVIDA on the Atrato River, intimidating and threatening them.
The proposal of the CAVIDA organization for the protection of life and territory, which constituted the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones since 2001, is being targeted in the wake of the new threats since the recent armed invasion that took place with the consent of the 17th Brigade.
On the Atrato River, on the points known as Tumarado, La Honda, and Travesía, the paramilitaries installed check points to control the movement along the Atrato, and at the same time to control the entry of subsistence goods (food), at times confiscating it, according to some Afro-Colombians.
Meanwhile, the Colombian military argues that it controls the Atrato River with its river battalion. “How can it be explained then?”, asks one Afro-Colombian, “that at the same time the paramilitaries are setting them up and taking them down.”
A local leader noted that the announcement of an incursion into Cacarica and the threats of aggression against the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zones, members of Cacarica community councils associated in CAVIDA, are all bad omens of what is to come.
We are living the same situation as we lived in 1996, before Operation “Genesis”, with a blockade of supplies and a limitation of our rights. This happens now, just as we are waiting for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to deal with the case of the assassination of Marino López and the displacement caused by this action of the 17th Brigade.
The paramilitary actions are coinciding with the pretense of the private company of William Vélez Sierra, to initiate a consultation process concerning the construction of a stretch of the Pan-American Highway that would affect ethnic Cacarica territory and environment.
Bogotá, D.C. 20 October 2011
Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission