Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado awarded the Aachen Peace Prize in Germany
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
We want to express our gratitude at receiving the Aachener Friedenspreis, (Aachen Peace Prize). It is an expression of solidarity with our operation by many international organizations, political platforms, labor unions, and civic movements, but especially with the effort by many communities to create an alternative space in the midst of the armed conflict that our country is experiencing.
This prize makes us very happy, because it shows that the crimes that the government is committing against our community will not remain unpunished; that the more than 170 deaths in our operation will not be forgotten; and that the killers will be judged some day by all of humanity.
We believe that this prize is recognition of the resistance of civilians in our country, who refuse the paramilitary logic imposed by the Colombian government. A number of communities right now are suffering, as we have suffered, displacement and seizure of their land by the government, for the benefit of the paramilitaries. Along with that, we should not forget the civil resistance of the indigenous people whose lands are being snatched away by giant mega projects, and of the people of African descent who, with the African palm plantations, are also having their land taken away. All of them refuse that logic of death and, just like us, are working for the construction of an alternative world; one that we believe will be respected some day.
This prize motivates us even more to follow our principles, even though they are violated every day by the Colombian government, using deception and lies to prop up their deadly actions. Along with that, even though we continue to be displaced in San Josesito, the government infamously talks about a return of more than 2000 families to the area, something totally false and fostered by the agencies of control that join in this stream of lies.
We believe that this prize at least for a time will allow us to reveal the difficult reality that we are living in this area, where the threats and the connivance of the Army with the paramilitaries are constant. They have displayed their lies as truth, supported by the media who go along with their game. In Uraba they have talked about demobilization, while paramilitarism continues intact. On the contrary, it is advancing in the seizure of land, in killing, and driving, along with the government, the economic mega projects that have the effect of involving the farmers in the armed conflict through the creation of a web of informants.
In Uraba, reality is being distorted and hidden, just as in the whole country. They don’t talk about the number of killings that the paramilitaries are carrying out every day. The communications media are silent along with the government control agencies, so that they can tell the tale that paramilitarism is over. The Army’s actions against the community have not stopped. They brazenly continue to threaten us, as on May 6 between 2 and 5 pm, when there were four masked men walking along with Army troops between La Union and San Jose. They were threatening a new massacre.
This prize will allow us once again to demonstrate the deadly reality that the communities in our country are experiencing. In addition, it is a way of giving us the hope that we are not alone in this search for dignity, for respect for life, and for the peace that is built every day by making space for real solidarity, the kind that we try to live with our community work, our group work, our cooperative economy, and justice without impunity.
Once more, our heartfelt thanks to those who have awarded us this prize, to the German people, and especially to the City Council of Aachen and to all of the international organizations that support this search for peace through building every day a world with dignity.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSE DE APARTADO
May 9, 2007
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621