Paramilitary detention, defamations and judicial harassment

Today for approximately thirty minutes, members of the López family, from the “No hay como Dios” Lower Council were detained by the paramilitaries. After calls to the national government from relatives in Curvaradó, they were released.

The paramilitaries announced that they were going to bring in reinforcements from other paramilitaries to define the control of the region. They forced the people to give them their cell phones, and change the SIM cards to communicate with their commanders. The paramilitaries stated that they were leaving their weapons hidden in the area.

Meanwhile, the 17th Brigade soldiers began their mobilization toward the place of detention, while the paramilitaries moved in the direction of Brisas de Curvaradó close to the El Tesoro-Camelias Humanitarian Zone. Before crossing the Curvaradó River upstream to the right bank, the paramilitaries crossed the Curvaradó River.

In the afternoon today, an international humanitarian agency informed our Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission that an official agency said that José Francisco Valdiri, who supposedly died, is alive, along with his two relatives in Belén de Bajirá.

Despite this information that challenges the source that informed a Humanitarian Zone yesterday about the beating, the witness sustained that he observed the paramilitary presence and in fear he thought José Francisco dead. He said that because of paramilitary operations and fear of irreparable damages, he and eleven families displaced themselves from Villa Luz to No hay como Dios, while seven families remain in Villa Luz.

According to an inhabitant of No hay como Dios there were clashes between paramilitaries in Bocas de Caño Claro, thirty minutes from the Villa Luz community and an hour and a half away from No hay como Dios. In these clashes, according to the source, two combatants were injured. The source said that they have not observed aerial operations targeting the paramilitary, as some military members had promised.

These paramilitary structures are fighting to occupy the territory and thus define the agribusiness in Curvaradó.

Today it was confirmed that last Thursday in Apartadó in a meeting monitoring the implementation of the census, in the presence of national government and public security forces, a series of accusations and defamations were made against community council members of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó, as well as against Peace Brigades International and our Commission.

The former Ríosucio municipal human rights liaison (personero), Darío Blandón, threatened the human rights observers, saying: “You don’t know what we Afro-Colombians are capable of.” A military member announced that there were already people criminally prosecuted because there are many people with the FARC.

Both versions of what happened yesterday in Villa Luz with the Valdiri family and the paramilitary operations deserve the formation of an ad hoc commission of the Prosecutor General’s Office from Bogotá, which has remained completely silent with the news of so many crimes.

The lack of guarantees for effective land restitution is evident. The lack of military operations to confront paramilitarism, and their tolerance of paramilitary abuses of the local population are both manifestations of an effort that is benefiting the bad-faith occupiers. Simultaneously, there are advances in the development of a judicial strategy to criminally frame the leaders demanding collective property land restitution, who are reclaiming their property from agribusiness of palm, cattle, mining and environmental damages.

Bogotá, D.C. May 17, 2011