Plan to assassinate leaders in Curvaradó

Without evident evictions in Curvaradó, paramilitary presence persists, along with death threats in the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone

Bogotá, D.C. June 15, 2011


President of the Republic of Colombia


Interior Minister


Minister of Foreign Affairs


Agriculture Minister


National Prosecutor General


National Inspector General


National Ombudsman


Manager of INCODER

“And while we should wait for justice as the final word, we cannot remain silent before what we have heard, read and recorded; all of which goes far beyond what could be considered criminal to meet the shadowy category of crimes against humanity.”

Ernesto Sabato

Our Historical Documentation and Ethics Censure of the development of a paramilitary type strategy aimed at imposing the development of agribusinesses of coca, palm, banana and/or plantain, and yucca, in conformity with the business interests, on the collective properties of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó. For these ends, with shameful means, the strategy has been in development since 1996. Those behind this strategy have formed new, armed protection groups connected to the bad-faith occupiers. They operate behind paramilitary structures with obvious complicity by the 17th Brigade. They plan to commit individual and collective crimes, with a goal of simulating a full participation in the census by including inhabitants who are not actually from the territory.

Our Historical Documentation of the planned assassinations, targeting: Nevis Yanes, Luis Durango, William Plazas, David Recuero Reyes, Camilo Iglesias, and James Tobar, which are added to the already existing list: Ligia Chaverra, Ledys Tuirán, Liria García, Manuel Denis Blandón, Raúl Salas, Adriana Tuberquia, Enrique Petro, Eustaquio Polo, Mario Castaño, Santander Nisperuza, Guillermo Díaz, among others.

We present our Historical Documentation of the fundamental facts described herein, which clearly reflect the lack of effective measures to fully confront the structural factors that impede the rightful, guaranteed land restitution. The dismantling of paramilitarism has not been taken on; instead it is tolerated and permitted by the 17th Brigade, demonstrated in their new means of protecting the business interests, which is a sector that has benefited from illegality and paramilitary crimes in order to define the use of the land in accordance with their economic interests in a model of development. The cattle ranching, banana, palm companies that are behind the terror-inducing paramilitary operations, replete with crimes against humanity and environmental damage, have not been confronted. Today we see bad faith occupiers seek to support a restitution that fits the business owners’ interests.

Our documentation of the scandalous fundamental facts, that reveal the lack of a comprehensive policy of human rights and collective property restitution.

* Friday, May 20 at 8am, less than five minutes from the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone in the Yañez family parcel -members of the Buenavista lower council- there were more than twenty paramilitaries. All the men carried pistols and rifles, the majority dressed in camouflage and others in civilian clothing. Forty-five minutes later, two paramilitaries arbitrarily entered the Humanitarian Zone, trying to buy sugar, salt and oil in the community store. Members of the lower council turned them away.

Around 10:30 a.m. bad-faith invaders and occupiers, accompanied by paramilitaries, met twenty minutes from the El Tesoro Camelias Humanitarian Zone, to define the implementation area of coca cultivation.

Simultaneously around this Humanitarian Zone, some bad-faith invaders and occupiers situated themselves around properties of the Camelias lower council, harassing the inhabitants.

*Tuesday, May 31 at 8am again two paramilitaries dressed in civilian clothing, without weapons, entered the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone under the pretext of looking for the store “because they were hungry”. The men would not leave the Humanitarian Zone for fifteen minutes.

*Thursday, June 2 at 3pm, thirty minutes from the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone, a group of twenty paramilitaries maintained that at the closure of the census they would assassinate various people from the lower councils that inhabit the humanitarian areas, among them, Nevis Yanes, Luis Durango, William Plazas, David Recuero Reyes, Camilo Iglesias and James Tobar.

The paramilitaries said that they would generate another displacement of community council members that inhabit the Humanitarian Zones. And, that the order is to depopulate the land in order to plant and process coca, and develop agribusiness desired by the businessmen, such as palm, banana and/or plantain, and yucca.
The armed men stated that the armed disputes between the paramilitaries were due to differences in application of the means of imposing agribusiness on the lower councils that inhabit the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones, and the types of profit distribution to implement the coca cultivation.

*Thursday, June 2 around 2pm in the Brisas de Curvaradó port, while preparing to attempt to evict the invaders –bad-faith occupiers- in Camelias collective territories, who have been present since December 2010, 17th Brigade Major Mosquera abused his authority with the members of the Apartadocito and Caracolí lower councils of Curvaradó collective territory.

Mosquera asked Enrique Cabezas, a member of the Apartadocito lower council, for his identification and took notes in a notebook about advocating legal action. He later approached a Caracolí lower council member, affected by the permanent aggressions of the “La Tuteka” business and said in a mocking voice “what are you doing here? You should be herding cattle.” He then went on to approach a member of the El Guamo lower council, Miguel Páez, and said that he should return to his community. Later, the military member asserted “people from Camelias should be at the eviction to help knock down the shacks” (…) “You guys are big mouths who say that there are paras here, and there are not paras here…these people really talk shit.”
At 3pm the Carmen del Darién police inspector, Quebin Anaya, along with members of the ESMAD anti-riot police and the 17th Brigade Major Mosquera entered the invaded territory of Camelias lower council. The inspector stated to the lower council members that he was going to resign because the eviction, ordered by Police Inspection, was delicate. He said “if there is an eviction, you cannot touch anything.”

At 5pm the ESMAD anti-riot police left the invasion area of the Camelias collective territory, dismantling some huts along the way, with the departure of a high percentage of bad-faith occupiers.
Some of the invaders said to members of the Camelias lower council that they were leaving but would return, “we count on the support of the businessmen and the police said that we could return after they tear down the huts, to continue harvesting and caring for the crops.”
*Friday June 3 in the morning, the police inspector, the police and the army entered Camelias to continue the eviction from the previous day.
*Saturday June 4 at 3pm members of the Caracolí lower council, Curvaradó collective territory verified that the bad-faith occupiers in service to Claudia Argote and Antonio Argote, dragged two dead cows all the way up to the support road.

*Saturday June 4 in the morning, inhabitants watched known paramilitaries on motorcycles and on foot moving about in the Llano Rico and El Cerrao hamlets in the Curvaradó collective territory.
*Saturday June 4 at 6pm Norberto Narváez, employee of the bad-faith occupiers, La Tuteka business of the Argote family, announced the assassination of members of the Caracolí lower council that inhabit the Humanitarian Zone. He told Edwin Martínez, a member of the Caracolí lower council: there wouldn’t be anyone to let out the cows because they would kill everyone.

*Saturday June 4 at 3pm two military members of the 17th Brigade entered the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone, without the consent of the inhabitants. When they were told to leave the zone, they said that they had entered with the authorization of the Interior Ministry to verify where a helicopter could land. Seconds later they left the zone.
*Sunday, June 5 around 9:30am in a public transport terminal in Belén de Bajirá, two witnesses told our Justice and Peace Commission that they saw the paramilitary known as “Franklin” and Pedro Tordecilla receive money from Angela Maria Osorio Galeano, an assistant or secretary of oil palm businesses, for the purpose of assassinating people that have denounced or confronted the Camelias lower council property invaders.

According to the source, among the people declared targets are some Belén de Bajirá and El Tesoro Camelias Humanitarian Zone inhabitants. The sources claim that in the conversation they referred to the execution of a plan to assassinate international observers from PBI and from our Justice and Peace Commission.
According to the information, Angela has been involved with the illegal operations in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, backed by Gabriel Jaime Sierra.

*Sunday, June 5 at about 2pm in Brisas de Curvaradó a paramilitary approached Lebis Tapias, a member of the lower council and inhabitants of the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone, to warn Tapias to protect Franklin Yanes because at the closure of the census they were going to “give it to him for being a snitch.”

Lebis and Franklin accompanied the international commission of observation and follow-up regarding the development of the Census, ordered by the Constitutional Court.

*Sunday June 5 in the evening in the community Nueva Uníon, close to the Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone, men in the service of Luis Felipe Molano, led by Pedro Tordecillas, fumigated with poison, one hundred plantain plants belonging to the Mercado family.

*Tuesday, June 7 at 9am the presence of twenty armed men in the service of the businesswoman Claudia Angela Argote was discovered, the men were on a farm illegally appropriated in Curvaradó community properties.

The armed men remain by day in a house located in Caracolí on the right bank of the river downstream from Caño Seco River and at night they patrol the left bank in the stretch of the road leading to Ríosucio. Nearby, the 17th Brigade is also stationed.

*Friday June 10 at 3pm in the Camelias lower council territories, thirty bad-faith occupiers were observed, evicted days earlier, they returned to the zone and built twenty huts.

In one of the sites, the national and international observers saw people who identified themselves as workers of the Banacol company, packing plantain. One person in the company mounted a Suzuki motorcycle, colored grey with plate # FY718.

Some of the invaders said that they would not leave the zone, and accused our Justice and Peace Commission of being responsible for the attempted eviction, claiming that we paid $50,000 (US$ 25) to people from Belén de Bajirá to knock down their homes. They added that they would not leave Camelias, reiterating that the police had given them permission to continue working and that they counted on the support of Banacol.

*Saturday June 11 at 10am the development of the Census, ordered by the Constitutional Court, was temporarily suspended because of the presence of Jair Suecun and other presumed members of paramilitary groups. The police searched them and later permitted them to leave the zone.

According to information from a member of the Apartadocito lower council, one member of the Census committee from this community resigned because of intimidations made by local large-scale cattle ranching businessmen.

The lower council member also discovered threats by large-scale cattle ranching businessmen, bad-faith occupiers, against members of Curvaradó lower councils in El Cerrao, Llano Rico and Apartadocito and of Jiguamiandó in La Laguna, Bracito and El Vergel, all associated with the census process, ordered by the Constitutional Court.

*Saturday June 11 at 10pm a member of the 17th Brigade entered the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone, ignoring that it is private property and a humanitarian space. The military member left the zone because of complaints from the lower council members.

*Sunday June 12 at around 11am in the Belén de Bajirá transportation terminal, Mario Castaño, lower council member, was approached by paramilitaries. The paramilitaries said that although they were losing the legal dispute, they had money to kill. They added: “the guy who is going to kill you is Cucho.”

When they left the area, Mario communicated with the police to request their presence in the area where it took place, but he did not receive any positive response.

* Sunday June 12 at 10:30am a member of the Santa Rosa de El Limon lower council, Vigía de Curvaradó lower council, was approached by a paramilitary dressed in civilian clothing, with a rifle. The paramilitary asked how many people inhabit the community, and ordered the council member to convene a community meeting to go over coca cultivation business options and other issues.

*Sunday June 12 in the morning community members verified the presence of sixty bad-faith occupiers working on planting and harvesting crops in Camelias lower council territories.

*Monday June 13 at 12pm José Francisco Rosario, inhabitant of the El Tesoro Humanitarian Zone, was approached by a plainclothes paramilitary, carrying a pistol, when he was in Belén de Bajirá. The paramilitary said that they were going to detain him. Rosario, a young member of the lower council was taken to the Curvaradó River bank, upstream, where two more paramilitaries with guns asked him for his identification and searched his bag.

The paramilitaries called the motor taxi who took him to Brisas de Curvaradó to make sure that he had been transported. The paramilitaries visited various establishments in Puerto de Brisas looking for information about Jose Francisco. Ten minutes later they asked him to return to Belén de Bajirá, after telling him “we are the security of the region.” A few meters away from the area where Jose was detained is the 17th Brigade’s permanent military base.

*Monday June 13 at 5pm community members verified the presence of a group of six plainclothes paramilitary members with rifles in the San Andrés community, close to the Caño Manso community, where the paramilitaries live in a local house. One of the armed men has been seen often with Pedro Tordecillas.

*Tuesday June 14 at 5:30pm a man approximately twenty two years old, wearing a black shirt, with two cell phones and a comb at the waist, arrived at the vicinity of the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone of Jiguamiandó. He addressed a lower council member, Erasmo Sierra, asking about the location of humanitarian zones and inhabitants’ movements. The man said that he came from El Tesoro and that he should take information to some armed men.

At 6:30pm inhabitants became aware of the presence of one hundred armed men in uniform between the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone of Jiguamiandó and El Tesoro of Curvaradó, in the Bacilo gully. According to information from the Interior Ministry that was made aware of the event, the military told them that they would mobilize into the area and would order overflights of a phantom aircraft.

Currently, there has been known paramilitary presence since June 4th.
We present our Ethics Censure of the paramilitary operations against lower community council members that inhabit the Humanitarian Zones of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, announcements of assassinations and the imposition of land use for agribusiness; all acts which ignore the Constitutional Court decisions, the provisional measures ensured by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and also reveal the lack of effective operations by the 17th Brigade, which tolerates this criminal strategy, as does the Urabá police.

Our Ethics Censure of the lack of effective investigations of the business sectors linked with Banacol, Uniban and Subastas de Urabá, all beneficiaries of paramilitarism, linked to agribusiness of palm, banana and /or plantain, yucca and large-scale cattle ranching, and who all continue to boast about their economic power.

Our Ethics Censure of the armed operations that attempt, behind the power of intimidation and irreparable damages, to define a mode of property restitution in line with the business interests of agribusiness in palm, plantain and/or banana, yucca, large-scale cattle ranching and coca cultivation.

With the knowledge of these events, which the paramilitary operations are themselves making known through irreparable damages on the life and integrity of the lower council members that inhabit Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, and through imposing the land use for coca; we request that you respond promptly to the following questions which we formulated in conformity with Article 23 of the Constitution.

1. How many members of the 17th Brigade are located in the collective territory of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?

2. What are the results of military operations against illegal armed actors in these territories?

3. What are the reasons given by the military for the lack of perimeter protection around the Humanitarian Zones and the Biodiversity Zones?

4. How do you interpret the fact that there exist paramilitary operations and grave human rights violations against Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó inhabitants, all in the presence of the 17th Brigade and the Urabá police?

5. What measures is the national executive branch adopting in response to the illegal business operations in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?

6. What preventative measures are being adopted in response to information of persistent threats against Humanitarian Zone
inhabitants and of coca cultivation promoted by the paramilitaries?

7. What material measures have been adopted to protect the property restitution advocates from Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?

8. What investigations have been advanced regarding the operations of paramilitary structures in Belén de Bajirá, Brisas de Curvaradó, between the El Tesoro-Camelias, Caño Claro Andalucía and Buenavista Humanitarian Zones?

9. What investigations have been advanced regarding the ESMAD anti-riot police and its ineffective attempts to carry out the eviction order by the Carmen del Darién Municipal Inspection?

We wait for your prompt response,

Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission