Second bad-faith invasion and occupation of collective properties, intense paramilitary presence, and steps taken to repopulate in new areas of Curvaradó collective territory.
Bogotá, D.C. December 15, 2010
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS President of Colombia
ANGELINO GARZÓN Vice-President of Colombia
GERMÁN VARGAS LLERAS Interior Minister
ANGELA MARÍA HOLGUÍN Foreign Relations Minister
JUAN CAMILO RESTREPO Agriculture and Rural Development Minister
GUILLERMO MENDOZA DIAGO Attorney General of the Nation (e)
ALEJANDRO ORDÓÑEZ Inspector General of the Nation
VOLMAR PÉREZ National Ombudsman
“Then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.” Amos 5, 24
The following is our most recent Historical Documentation and Ethical Censure to continued controlling paramilitary operations amidst Brigade Seventeen, between Brisas, Curvaradó and Ríosucio.
Pressures and intimidations by regular soldiers against Guillermo Díaz, a member of the Lower Council of Llano Rico, and an inhabitant of the Humanitarian Zone Argenito Díaz. The invasion of collective properties encouraged by businesses that benefit from paramilitary activity, with permanent paramilitary operations of harassment and siege on members of lower councils that inhabit Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones. All of these situations continue to violate the rights of these Afro-Colombians.
Despite government statements to act effectively and promptly to comply with the Constitutional Court order of May 2010, the structural factors and strategies to preclude the restitution of collective territory continue to be developed. The official militarization with abuse and tolerance of threats, intimidations and paramilitary operations are a factor of grave risk, not of protection. The smear campaign and prosecution strategy have become an operation with psychological and moral implications on the target population. And the destruction of their means of subsistence and the factual reality, such as the occupation and invasion of collective properties for the second time, express the decision of criminal structures to prevent the respect of Afro-mestizos rights.
We present to you our Historical Documentation of the following events:
*Friday, November 12 haround 4:00 p.m. in the Llano Rico hamlet, a soldier approached Guillermo Díaz, a member of the Lower Community Council and inabitant of the Humanitarian Zone Argenito Díaz, warning and intimidating him: “you may be surrounded by the military, but when it’s your turn, it’s your turn.” After the message was delivered, the paramilitary retreated.
*Saturday, November 20 around 7:00 p.m. three soldiers assigned to Brigade Fifteen entered the Humanitarian Zone Argenito Díaz, without the consent of the inhabitants of the private property.
*Sunday, November 21 at 12:30 p.m. Major Pérez, task commander of Brigade Fifteen based in Ríosucio, Chocó communicated via a cell phone with the farmer Guillermo Díaz and notified him: “we are going to do surveillance only in your community and you will only be accompanied when you go to meetings and community work in Llano Rico, nothing more, no other trips, nothing.”
Ten minutes after the phone call, another military officer in the town of Llano Rico, Zorrillo, of Army Brigade Fifteen, told Guillermo: “Why is there such anger in Llano Rico? You have to walk very lightly because they want to fuck with you, my brother.”
*Saturday November 27 around 4:00 p.m., for about an hour, a soldier entered the Humanitarian Zone Argenito Díaz many times, without the consent of the inhabitants.
Monday, December 6, about 5:30 p.m. a resident of the Caracolí Humanitarian Zone who was traveling toward Santamaria, received a phone call from a relative who warned him that he should not go to that village because paramilitaries of Águilas Negras (Black Eagles) were in the town and had murdered a campesino. The body of the victim was taken to Belén de Bajirá.
According to the same source, paramilitaries of Águilas Negras murdered a young man about 23 years old. After the removal of the body, it was taken to Mutatá.
From December 6 until now, patrols and mobilizations of paramilitaries persist, sometimes in camouflage, sometimes in civilian clothes, with pistols and rifles, they are concentrated on the highway that goes from Brisas de Curvaradó to Ríosucio in the hamlets of Santamaria, La Florida, Campo Alegre, and on the hill of La Madre. At the same time, there are patrols of the military forces. In the hamlet of La Florida at the store known as “Seven Brothers,” a paramilitary who introduced himself to the inhabitants present in the store, stated that the Águilas Negras were there to “carry out a cleansing in the zone.”
The same day in the morning on the Apartadó radio station affiliated with Caracol Radio, German Marmolejo spoke. Failing to tell the truth, he introduced himself as the legal representative of Curvaradó and claimed that Ligia Chaverra and Manuel Denis are guerrillas. Lastly, he addressed the members of the community councils who live in the Humanitarian Zones, changing his tone from previous years when he had intimidated and excluded Mestizos and Indigenous, he said that he “has welcomed them” and as is his custom, he defamed the Commission of Justice and Peace.
Thursday, December 9 at 3:00 p.m., two soldiers who approached the boundary of the Humanitarian Zone “Argenito Diaz” in Llano Rico, called insistently to the 13 and 14-year-old children. When the soldiers saw that a member of the Humanitarian Zone was coming to support the children, they left the place.
Also on Thursday, December 9, at 8:30 p.m., two soldiers arrived at the Humanitarian Zone of Caño Manso, requesting lodging from the members of the lower council, the adults: Heliodoro Polo Almansa and Bernabe Laprisca Mesa. Upon the negative response from the pair, they left, saying, “ We should shoot these old sons of bitches.” Afterward, they headed for the stable of the farm of bad-faith occupiers, where there is permanent military control.
Sunday, December 12, about 1:00 p.m., in the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo, on the Jiguamiandó River, an army helicopter landed less than two hundred meters from the humanitarian space, affecting the subsistence crops of the Afro-Colombians.
Thirty minutes after landing, the same members of the military entered the Humanitarian Zone without authorization.
Monday, December 13, about 6:00 a.m. a group of about twenty people invaded the Biodiversity Zone belonging to the Tuberquía family in the place known as La Cristalina, community council of Camelias in Curvaradó.
According to the information reported, the invaders and bad-faith occupiers counted on big-business backing for this action. As of that day, the invaders marked off 23 lots of seventy by seventy meters and raised structures for houses.
About 1:00 p.m., the group temporarily left the place.
Tuesday, December 14, at 10:20 a.m. witnesses reported to our Commission of Justice and Peace in Bogotá the continuation of the illegal occupation with about 40 people coming from Santa Maria, Chigorodó, María La Baja, Apartadó, former palm workers who live in Belen de Bajirá, and repopulators who are located in Andalucía.
Wednesday, December 15, at about 11:30 a.m., soldiers from the 17th Brigade occupied the territory of the Biodiversity Zone of Ricardo Romaña without the consent of the legitimate and legal resident, contiguous with the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo in the Jiguamiandó river basin.
Wednesday, December 15, at 9:00 a.m., members of the Lower Council of Camelias, who live in the Humanitarian Zone, arrived at the point known as La Cristalina, which is part of the collective territory of Curvaradó. They verified the presence of 70 invaders in the Biodiversity Zone belonging to the Tuberquía family.
The members of the Lower Council notified the bad-faith occupiers in writing that this was a property of the collective territory. The invaders declared that, “if the government was going to remove them, it should pay for the improvements (they had made).” The invaders declared that they were in the territory with the authorization of German Marmolejo, who identified himself to them as the legal representative of Curvaradó. They added that they were drawing up lists of families in Mutatá, in Belén de Bajirá, and Brisas de Curvaradó for the assigning of parcels and these would arrive in the coming days.
The invaders have cleared the ground and set up temporary houses: two Biodiversity Zones, the one of the Tuberquía family and the one of the Martinez family, and three other properties, one of the Guzman family, and of the Ibarguén family. More than ten hectares have been marked off by the invaders who did not recognize the appeal of the leadership of the Lower Council.
At 8:00 p.m., our Commission of Justice and Peace was informed about the permanent military presence in Brisas de Curvaradó. On both Monday and Tuesday people observed there the open paramilitary operation of armed soldiers, without any reaction from the institutions.
Thursday, December 16, at 7:30 a.m. members of the lower councils of Camelias observed, in the place known as La Cristalina, the entrance of fifty people, the majority men, some walking, others on motorcycles, with tools for working. These people joined the first group of invaders.
Thursday, December 16, at 1:00 p.m., our Commission of Justice and Peace in Bogotá was informed about the return of Hugo Fernel Molano to Colombia. Having been extradited for narco-trafficking, he paid his punishment in the United States.
The information was shared in the settlement of Nueva Unión, last Thursday, December 9, by workers, bad-faith occupiers in the collective territory of Caño Manso. They specified that he came to arrange the businesses and the problem of the land.
In the same meeting, they specified that a 30-year contract had been drawn up between the council of Pedequita/Mancilla and Luis Felipe Molano for the extraction of lumber and extensive cattle ranching, without all the families of the community council having been consulted.
Likewise specified was the implementation of a 40-year contract with Juan Guillermo Gonzalez, for the planting of palm, the extracting of lumber, and extensive cattle ranching in the settlement of Onofre Bijao.
The presence of the invaders was discovered on December 10 when they entered an individual property. Since that day, the Vice President’s office and the Interior Ministry have been informed of the situation by telephone. This action takes place days after a governmental commission composed of the Defender of the People and the Inspector General’s office held a meeting in the Camelias Humanitarian Zone in Curvaradó to work out the details of the process of land restitution according to the May 18, 2010 order of the Constitutional Court.
Our Ethical Censure of the invasion that has developed in the last few days in collective properties of Curvaradó, which appears to be an expression of a criminal horde, that, taking advantage of the misery and exclusion of former workers of the palm companies and of landless campesinos foment the bad-faith occupations in order to make it impossible for the members of the lower councils and residents of the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones to continue living on the properties which were taken from them and which have not been returned.
Our Ethical Censure of the persistent warnings, intimidations, and finger-pointing by soldiers against the family of the leader, Guillermo Díaz, brother of Argenito Díaz, the leader murdered by paramilitaries. Guillermo’s family lives in the Humanitarian Zone, “Argenito Díaz,” which coincides with the paramilitary messages and operations that are developed there, in their home community.
Our Ethical Censure of the prolonged systematic operation of finger-pointing, defamation, and stigmatizing which continues to be developed with the backing of bad-faith occupiers and companies that benefit from paramilitarism that make impossible the full restoration of the rights of the members of the lower councils who live in the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones.
In accordance with Article 23 of the National Constitution and your institutional responsibilities, report to us:
1. The procedures for the protection of Guillermo Diaz, resident of the Humanitarian Zone, “Argenito Diaz,” including that the soldiers indicate who should be protected from assassination.
2. When the military forces know about situations in which unlawful actions are produced, such as the invasion or the destruction of property in a conflict zone, what is their role and constitutional duty?
3. What are the advances in the fulfilling of the court order of May 2010, handed down by the Constitutional Court, regarding the description of the real members of the communities of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?
4. What measures have you adopted to avoid illegal business operations and bad-faith occupations in the river basins of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó?
5. What effective, suitable, and expeditious channels, that give structural responses to the situation of risk, have been generated by the national government to guarantee the life and integrity of the residents of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones of Caracolí, Caño Manso, and Argenito Diaz, in Curvaradó, and Uradá and Las Menas in Jiguamiandó?
6. What instructions has the National Government given to the members of the army with respect to the protection owed to the residents of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones protected by the provisional measures of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights?
7. Report to the Municipal Inspection and, based on the news of the occupation of the collective properties, request that a visual inspection be carried out in which is confirmed the disturbing events and the invasion of properties. And order the elements, objects, and persons to leave the collective territory of Curvaradó.
With deep concern,
Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace