THE BUTCHERS OF URABA IN ANTIOQUIA
( Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
EXPERIENCES IN THE DESIGN OF THE POLICY OF DEMOCRATIC SECURITY
Former mayor of Apartado 1995-1997
“There is worry and uncertainty in the breast of the Government, and not for nothing. The proximity of President Alvaro Uribe to Rito Alejo Del Rio, when Uribe was Governor of Antioquia and the General commanded the 17th Brigade in Uraba, headquartered in Carepa, (November 11, 1995 – December 16, 1997) is no secret to anyone. (November 11 1995 – December 16, 1997)” Cambio Magazine, August 7-13, 2008, Number 788.
What connection and responsibility do the political and economic powers in Antioquia in the period of 1995-1997, and extended to the present day, have with the extermination of the civilian population in Uraba?
Why does the implantation of the privatization economic model by the alliance of the ranchers, farmers, banana growers and transnational corporations with the regional government, protected by the military/paramilitary strategy of killing and displacement, remain unconnected to General Rito Alejo del Rio and the now-President of the Republic Alvaro Uribe Velez?
It appears that the answers are implicit in the questions. The voices of the victims of the horrendous massacres that mushroomed every day in the region and the selective murders that are still being committed, have not been heard by our institutions. The victims continue to cry for truth and justice. They continue to complain of the systematic Plan, “The Pacification of Uraba”; the peasant laboratory for professional killing as an instrument of “peace”, consolidated historically with the creation and legitimization of the AUC and legalized by Uribe Velez, Governor, with the so-called CONVIVIR, and continued as an integral government policy by means of the so-called paramilitarism, which from that moment to today, are seeding the prolific soil of Uraba with common graves.
Today, from the office of the President of the Republic, the legitimization of the policy is continued in a more subtle form by means of the artifice of the demobilization and the negotiation between the government and the paramilitaries through the “Justice and Peace Law. This law was negotiated as an instrument of impunity and legalization of the criminals, shown to the world as the commitment of the government to the nation. The paramilitaries, now converted as a body into social groups and forest rangers. This legalization was presented as a success of the policy of democratic security, to be honored and advanced. We were told that thanks to the policy, the paramilitaries would deliver all of the truth, all of their arms and, above all, make “reparation”. They have consolidated the “matrix of society”, the control of the civilian population. Is that justice? Nothing is further from the truth.
The crimes are continuing with impunity. The paramilitaries continue to break the law. The “chosen ones”, elected with their votes, have exchanged their right to continue making laws for the endorsement of the President. I don’t believe that the truth that is coming to light now is coming entirely because of the justice and peace law. It seems strange, and it is strange, that the killers, the butchers, those who are telling how, where, with whom, and with what purpose this strategy has been carried out. Some of them do it because the politicians have not carried out their agreements. Others are resentful because those who planned the strategy of extermination of communities remain immune. They live in silence in daily life, like men of importance, presidents or generals. The policy of lies, of disloyalty, of mistrust, the violation of national sovereignty and that of neighboring countries, are central to the “values” of the policy of democratic security.
I still insist on calling the country’s attention to my testimony. I refuse to keep the silence imposed by the operatives and by the communications media. I denounce the fact that the men and women who were witnesses to the extermination of communities were never taken seriously by those who “carry out justice”. We demand justice; we demand the truth; we demand that all those responsible take responsibility. The evidence is there in the analysis of the political, economic, and cultural context of the region.
Thos who carry out justice refused to consider our complaints of the responsibility of the institutional “butchers”. They said we had no direct admissible evidence of the responsibility of General Rito Alejo and of the then-Governor Alvaro Uribe, among others, for the massacres in Uraba. The voices of the victims were not enough for them. Even with the analysis of the context that we provided, even with the material evidence of the acts, they fenced with us, saying that they required procedural evidence, the kind that carries out formal requisites, as if it would be possible to separate the actual truth from the formal, as if the truth were not one whole, as if the testimony of the victims combined with the events in context were not sufficient, as if the reason for the judicial decision did not depend on the reconstruction of the events along with their context, as if the purpose were not to establish the truth, instead of settling a legal action in favor of the stronger party. As if there were no responsibility in light of the Constitution of those who are charged with the guardianship of life as their principal mandate.
These judicial operatives, whether you call them judges, prosecutors, or judicial attorneys, now have the moral and ethical obligation to answer to the country. How many visits to the Prosecutor’s office? How many times did men and women relate the events that left them displaced, relate the pain of the families of the “disappeared”, of women who were raped, of selective murders? How many times did we go with the women to “rescue” unnamed men from the pressure of the paramilitaries, while the “General” or rather, the “Butcher” rejoiced in promotion, and in making reports to his immediate superior, who knew EVERYTHING that had gone on in the area. And always the questions of judicial proof. The pain wasn’t enough, nor pointing out those responsible. Perhaps today those complicit in those massacres will answer for the “Missing Links” of those responsible, whose names are known, and who don’t dare take responsibility, even though everybody knows who the “Butchers of Uraba” are and where they are.
In the name of peace, of economic investment, of finishing off the guerrillas, then-Governor Alvaro Uribe and his Secretary of Government designed the major strategy. Today I am very sorry that Pedro Juan Moreno is not alive. Who took him out of the game? Who knew of the power and the truth that Pedro Juan Moreno maintained? Who ordered him killed? What wouldn’t I give today to listen to his habitual arrogance that came over his face with every displacement and every dead “communist” and, of course, those reports of mission accomplished from Alvaro Uribe, of which he could tell us as his “truth”. Who killed Carlos Castano, or is that person in Israel?
From this experience in extermination, the banana companies, the politicians, and some church officials who gave a free pass to the military operations, operations that today “H.H.”, El Alemán, Mancuso, Don Berna, Melasa, among others are reporting. These practices, those of yesterday and those of today, are not isolated events. They weren’t done behind the back of the country, nor of the communications media. NO. This demands that today, more than 13 years later, the truth be told to the country and that the country answer. NOT POLITICALLY. (Making excuses, claiming that others did it) as the government now is accustomed to doing in parts of the country. No. We demand that the country respond through the justice system, with personal punishments.
We know now that the policy was simply to assume that it was “necessary to do it” because it would be worth it to save Colombia from communism. It was a task for the “chosen one” who had to impose a moral to save the lambs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen . . .It is time to raise our voices with the victims. Contrary to the immorality of this government, based on falsehood, on lying every day, the empty wordiness of ethics, it is time to demand that the people WAKE UP. The self-appointed ruler made of sand cannot continue to try to be re-elected, with his history of crime, lying, and conspiracy. Will the communications media accompany a march to demand responsibility from those never elected General Rito Alejo and President Uribe?
The silence about the massacres and selective cutting in pieces of people in URABA, that has been in effect up to now, cannot continue. We cannot continue to witness them dragging men and women out of their houses, with the government accusing them of being terrorists. We cannot stay silent while massacres and selective murders continue, while communities are targeted and attacked. They do NOT forget. They will not sell the pain of their past for a mess of pottage.
As a citizen, I demand that the operators of justice who were in Uraba, especially in the period of 1995-1998, furnish their version of what happened. Where was the Public Defender? Where were the medical examiners? Where were the judges, the prosecutors? Finally, I am, as I have always been indignant that the country was asleep and that forgetfulness was imposed. Where is the responsibility of Luis Camilo Osorio? Where are the humiliated faces of the girls and boys who were obliged to grow up feeling that it would be better if their families died in any manner, so that they could wash away their sins in the earth, and now, if they did not take the side of the killers, they would meet the same fate?
Now President Uribe, who not only praised the General of Death, but also, together with him, presented to the country their model, their proposal for government, for security, and their proposal to resolve the conflicts. In homage to the General, he suggested him for President of the Republic and promised that the “valor”, the courage of His General had shown the way to return peace to Colombia. Not dialogs, not political outcomes, but force, violence, revenge, alliance with the drug trade, those policies would be the new rites of the sect.
I demand that justice, if it still can be called that, show its face to President Uribe, that General Rito Alejo, Luis Camilo Osorio, those demobilized from the EPL, including the current Government aides who are connected with that chapter in the history of the country, take responsibility. Also that the economic collaborators, both national and international, take responsibility. I want to see all of them showing their faces to the victims.