Threats to Dismember Human Rights Observer of Humanitarian Space in Buenaventura

A few minutes ago we were informed that paramilitaries controlling the neighborhood of La Playita were planning to “dismember” one of the human rights observers of the “Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayero”. The information was transmitted through an official channel to one of the bodyguards of the Unidad Nacional de Protección (UNP), that provides protection our members at the Intereclesial Commission of Justice and Peace (CIJYP).

These bodyguards have been closely following our CIJYP members as well as the international observers from other organizations as the leave and enter the Humanitarian Space.

Since April 13th in collaboration with CIJYP members to observe this community driven initiative, these international human rights “accompaniers” include delegates from Peace Brigades International (PBI), Witness for Peace (WfP), American delegates from the Catholic Church in the USA, and humanitarian workers from Spain.
The Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayero has also counted on the support and visits from the Bishop of Buenaventura, local parishes, and organisms of the United Nations including ACNUR.

The levels of risks have increased with the recent detention of alias “Fifi”, accused of responsibility for the dismemberment of the teenager Carlos Angarita, assassinated April 13th as previously publicized by the CIJYP.

“Fifi” was the paramilitary that threatened Danilo Rueda with a machete after he was found recruiting children and entering with ease into the Humanitarian Space.
The mother of Carlos, Yuri Jiménez, testified before the public prosecutor, the threats that she received over phone calls from paramilitaries the past Monday after having participated in the recent “International Meeting of Victims of State Crimes” in Bogotá.
Ezequiel Aragón, afro-colombian resident of the Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayeros, was also threatened a few hours ago. After being rescued by the CIJYP from forced recruitment, the paramilitaries threatened the 12-year-old with assassination if he returns.

Over the years, the family Aragón has been a victim of forced displacements by various paramilitary groups, has had multiple daughters become victims of rape by a well-known assailant, and despite numerous evidence and cases in the penal process, the culprit continue to live in freedom.

The same day as the threatening phone call to Ezequeiel, two paramilitaries entered the Humanitarian Space at night through one of the official entrances aside a police post left unattended. The paramilitaries approached a Humanitarian Space member and mentioned that they had a list of various female residents, among them, Claudia Angulo Mondragón, that were among those who gave out information to the “gringo” observers, and if they continued giving out information, they “couldn’t respond be held responsible for what would transpire.”

The almost 280 families of the Humanitarian Space of Puente Nayero, that form part of the Comunidades Construyendo Paz en los Territorios, CONPAZ, are finding themselves at high risk, after their decision to confront the paramilitary structure that strongly in place since this past November.

In recent weeks, the paramilitaries have been persuaded to leave humanitarian space of this afro-colombian community. The community has demanded a 24-hour police presence in five strategic points along the border, currently of which are left unenforced.

Since April 13th, the families have been relying and creating their own protection through non-violent means in accordance with deep-seated cultural traditions, avoiding involvement in all paramilitary operations against their children and teenagers.
Despite the detention of alias “Fifi”, the paramilitary structures are still strong in their attempts to retake permanent control of the Puente Nayero space.
Aliases “Nano” or “Fernando” and “El Diablo” continue avoiding capture, despite being principal paramilitary members of the cell as now directed from the bordering neighborhood known as Piedras Cantas.

Bogotá, D.C. May 1, 2014
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz