In Buenaventura there is silence, the symptom of terror. Very few talk and one of those ephemeral voices out of the rows of the brave women and church sectors was able to see what is occurring there. Thanks to them, we can and acknowledge the situation. This happened a few hours ago, maybe days or weeks, it doesn’t matter, the threats against the Community Council are counted for years, but there is nothing one can do, except, take shelter in the same terror to survive.
Two days ago in the afternoon, the paramilitary commander of the “Urabeños”, alias “Jairo”, arrived in the territory of the Community Council of “La Gloria”, located in the 12th community of District Buenaventura. There, he stated that his employers had given him order to silence those villagers that have been expressing their unconformity to the police about the division and sales of land that have been made recently. This is severely disliked by them, confirmed the commander, referring himself to his employers. More explicit, he said: “Those who disagree will be tortured, banished or killed.”
Since september the “Urabeños” represent state and law. In those 6 weeks they have strongly inhibited the mobility of the people and charged every family with protection money for their houses, their cattle or other economic activities. The payments go from 10 to 200 thousand pesos. In reunions they ordered a biweekly payment of 3000 to 5000 per week for the activities of the criminal group.
The paramilitaries divided the communitarian land and offered it for sale with the argument that the orders of their employers foresee uncultivated land for sale. The armed men manifested that if the villagers of the communitarian land disagree with the sale of the batches they should displace themselves. In some cases they ordered to pay a fee of 200 thousand pesos in order to be able to maintain the property and not lose the batch. The authorities eventually rescue the bodies of the persons if they have permission of the paramilitaries.
The concerns about the institutional complicity are evidential. Beyond the security councils, La Gloria can be characterized by being militarily controlled by the paramiltarism, in which federal agents of the secret services and members of the marine infantry constantly circulate.
The president Santos acknowledged the paramilitary control during his visits in the district Buenaventura. The easiest way for the local authorities to not confront the problem is the stigmatization of the afro-descendent inhabitants of the collective territories. The community has become the trash bin for dead corps of the victims of the paramiltarism in town.
Although nothing happens, apart from a few church voices and local media that recognize the reality of Buenaventura, the strategy is to maintain the clean image of the town as the epicenter of the Pacific Alliance.
The mechanism of economic integration on the part of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia with the countries of the pacific overshadows those realities, no matter which measures are taken to secure the progress and development in the region.
On the territory of the Community Council of La Gloria several infrastructural projects are implemented with the goal to accomplish with the logistic requirements of the trade agreements and the Pacific Alliance, especially in the port of Buenaventura, which determines the social and territorial control that the paramilitaries seek to establish in the district.
But those works are being exceeded by the dredging project of the Delta del Rio Dagua that aims to build a new harbor in the zone of Campo Hermoso and to construct a container wharf, which is needed for the port expansion and the storage of carbon.
Until now, none of the projects have guaranteed the right for prior, free or informative consultation. The only right is to live, if the norms imposed by the paramilitaries are accepted.
According to a testimony the paramilitaries were addressed by agents of the SIJIN, which detained them but despite the evidence, let them walk free. Seconds later, the same federal agents made fun of the afro-descendents. Little is left of the trust in the authorities due to their actuation.
When the marine infantry patrols, hours before all paramilitaries disappear and hide, which according to the people is hardly to believe to be a coincident rather than an agreement.
The black communities are dependent on the mercy of the paramilitaries because there is nothing they can do thanks to the irresponsibility and illegality of the public forces of the State. Those few leaders who recognize the reality of the situation are persuaded and threatened to death.
The “Urabeños” are acting with guarantees. Not that they only laugh about the population when federal agents show their presents, but they have also installed two bases in the collective territory at the points known as La Piscina and La Rivera.
The paramilitary operations with the aim of territorial control were initiated since mid-year, months after the communities had accomplished the label “collective territory” for their property at the beginning of this year.
In this case the men of the paramilitary command from the “Bloque Calima”, which operated with the support of the 3rd brigade, murdered and made disappear the legitimate inhabitants and owners of the lands. This is the second wave and it seems to be the last for the afro-Colombians from Buenaventura.
Although the INCODER recognizes the situation, again, nothing happens. All the traditional inhabitants of La Gloria are obligated by paramilitary law. This is the disgraceful status of the so called “democratic prosperity”. Sales of batches from the black communities on the part of the paramilitaries, no law of victims, no possible restitution. Perhaps, what’s left is the submission, death of displacement.
Who is favored by the territorial, respectively social control and continuity of the paramilitarism? It appears clear that everything points on private inversion. Inversion, with a state that is unable to protect the rights of its citizens and which does not want, nor can, nor is interested in acting.
Bogotá, D.C. 14th of October, 2013
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz