Paramilitary Occupation of collective properties in Curvaradó

Paramilitary operations continue in the Curvaradó territory, this time with visible operations in areas where the military was based, Also an attack against Miguel Mercado, a community member of the “Y”- Caño Manso.

Ver constancia radicada

Bogotá, April 18, 2011


Minister of the Interior


Minister of Foreign Relations


Minister of Agriculture


Attorney General of the Nation


Inspector General of the Nation


National Ombudsman

“Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good, and love evil? You who tear their skin from them, and their flesh from their bones… Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel! You who abhor what is just, and pervert all that is right; who build up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness!” (Micah 3, 1-2 and 9-10)

Once again, our third Historical Documentation and Ethics Censure in less than ten days, and the ninth concerning the situation in the Afro-descendent territories in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó since August 7th, 2010. Our documentation covers the paramilitary operations following the withdrawal of the 17th brigade from their perimeter posts, and it covers the known details of the development of a series of selective assassinations of community council leaders living in the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones.

With the withdrawal of the regular soldiers on April 8th, the paramilitaries have initiated visible operations, without any reservation, in areas where the military was based or traveled within the collective territory of Curvaradó. After the failed attempt to assassinate Santander Nisperuza, the surveillance and tracking of Enrique Petro, and the threats to Guillermo Díaz and members of the lower council, the paramilitaries attempted to stab Miguel Mercado. Paradoxically, while the military retreated from their bases on the perimeter of the communities because of risks they claimed to face, not only did the paramilitary appear in the same established places of the regular soldiers, they also accompanied meetings between the Banacol banana businessmen and the bad-faith invaders and occupiers.

The following is our Historical Documentation of the foundational facts that reveal the absolute vulnerability faced by the members of the lower councils that inhabit the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.

*Saturday, April 9 at 10:30am between the communities of Andalucía and Camelias, in the place where the bad-faith invaders and occupiers established settlements, a meeting was held between sixty of these illegal residents and members of the companies Banacol and Uniban. In accordance with witnesses’ accounts, both before and during the meeting, soldiers of the 17th military brigade were positioned nearby in control operations, in order to protect the meeting.

*Sunday, April 10 at 12:30pm eight paramilitaries armed with AK 47s and in black jackets entered onto the property of the lower council member of Caño Claro Andalucía, Clodomiro Veláquez. This civilian was forced to guide them to the path that goes to the highway, which goes between Las Menas and Andalucía. He was released in the field of the businessman, William Ramirez.

At 1pm, on the highway, twenty men and one blond woman were seen dressed in different colored shirts and sports sweatpants, with AK 47s. The armed group identified themselves as paramilitaries and asked a local farmer where the Andalucía community is located. Minutes later, they arrived at the Andalucía community council member, Elena Mestra’s Biodiversity Zone and asked for directions to the Caño Claro bridge.

At around 1:30pm one of the armed actors entered the Biodiversity Zone of the Andalucía lower community council member, Elías López.

The Afro-descendent demanded that they leave the Biodiversity Zone, as it is clearly labeled with the signs. The armed actor asked to buy some chickens, to which Elías said no. When the farmer asked the intruder which group he was associated with, he responded: “from the group of those from below ” and he left the area.

*Monday, April 11 at 5:00am on the road that goes between the Cetino hamlet and Andalucía, approximately forty paramilitaries with AK 47s approached a local inhabitant asking for the tower located alongside the Caño Claro Andalucía Humanitarian Zone where Enrique Petro, a member of the Andalucía lower council, lives.

Minutes later they entered onto the road that goes between Andalucía and Camelias. According to the source, the paramilitaries stopped in the settlement constructed by the bad-faith occupiers in the Camelias Biodiversity Zone, who since December of last year, have invaded this communal property with the support of the banana businessmen and approval of the paramilitaries.

At 6:00 a.m. military soldiers from the 17th brigade traveled the same path that goes between Andalucía and Camelias.

*Thursday, April 14 at 8:50am international observers and members of our Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission, accompanying the community council members, verified the environmental destruction done by the bad-faith occupiers, and the advance in planting large areas of plantain, corn and rice in the Biodiversity Zone of the Camelias lower council, tended by the Tuberquia family.

One of the workers of the bad-faith occupiers said that the beneficiary of that which they were doing is a person by the name of Sixto.
Moreover, paramilitaries approached members of the Andalucía lower council that planted crops close to the La Cristalina ravine, prohibiting them from working and forcing them to leave the area.

At 5:00pm, fifty meters from the last lots installed by the bad-faith occupiers, close to the La Cristalina ravine, the paramilitaries identified themselves as such.

*Friday, April 15 at 7:30pm our Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission received information from an official source, according to whom, the 17th Brigade of the army claimed that the armed actors are a group of 20-30 FARC members, which are located in the Caño Claro sector. According to the brigade, these armed actors warned the local population that there are land mines in the area and that they are preparing attacks. Furthermore, according to this information, the military has a contingent of two hundred soldiers devoted to locating and fighting the guerrillas.

*Sunday, April 17 at 3:30am Miguel Mercado, 39 years old, member of the Pedaguita and Mansilla lower council and inhabitant of the Biodiversity Zone located close to the Y in the region of the Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone, was attacked with machetes by five men, among them, the well known paramilitary Pedro Tordecillas. Miguel ran through a plantain field and was able to escape the machetes that only tore his shirt, meanwhile his victimizers shouted: “He has to be killed.”

The member of the community council ran shirtless, taking cover in a canal until 6:00am. He then took public transportation into Belén de Bajirá, to hide out in a family member’s house. With this, at 10:00am a commission of international observers and members of our organization accompanied him to the Camelias Humanitarian Zone to where he decided to displace himself.

Our Ethics Censure of the absence of effective measures in response to the publicly announced irregular operations and the development of a criminal strategy that has not been given adequate attention for the severity of the grave danger that it poses, a plan of assassinations and territorial occupation fostered by banana businessmen and paramilitaries in order to avoid the rightful restitution of collective territory.

Our Ethics Censure of the military scheme that continues to be developed using the paramilitary strategy. This military scheme ignores all ethics and honor codes that the military is based upon, trying through lies to cover-up their institutional responsibilities under the Rule of Law.

Our ethical censure of the absence of an effective criminal and disciplinary investigation of the complicity, omission, and commission by omission of state structures and agents regarding known criminal plans developed through hidden strategies without any measures to prevent the irreparable harm to the lives and integrity of Afro-Colombians. The continuation of a partial investigation of the business sector, the exclusion of analysis of the paramilitary chain of command and its interaction with all the banana and cattle-ranching business sectors, the 17th Brigade, and the Urabá Police, is resulting in the consolidation of the criminal strategy.

In conformity with article 23 of the National Constitution, we ask that you please respond to the following questions:

1. In conformity with the international duty of protection for the members of the lower councils of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, what measures have you adopted since April 9, 2011?

2. What preventative measures are you going to adopt to confront the irregular paramilitary structures that have designed a plan of selective assassinations and that are advancing operations in the collective territory of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?

3. What diligent actions will emanate from the office of the Prosecutor General, Viviane Morales, in response to the prevailing impunity of the grave and systematic acts that have been known by the investigator since October of 1996?

4. In response to the failure to comply with the Constitutional Court Order of May 18, 2010, what actions are being taken against the regional manager of Uniban, Jesus Correa Perez, who planted an oil palm nursery in the Cetino community, and against the businessmen William Ramirez, Ridrigo Mejia, Antonio Lopera, Claudia Argote, Antonio Argote, and Luis Felipe Molano, who continue the extensive cattle ranching in the Curvaradó river basin?

In all consideration,
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace