Public Letter from the Inter-ecclesiastical Commission of Justice and Peace
Bogota, D.C. October 22, 2008
Francisco Santos - Vice-President of the Republic
Jamie Bermudez - Minister of Foreign Relations
Fabio Valencia Cossio - Interior Minister
Mario Iguaran Arana - Public Prosecutor
Edardo Maya Villazon - Federal Prosecutor
Volmar Perez - Peoples Defender
Ref: Paramilitary takeover in Buenaventura and Forced Displacement of Afro-Colombians. Inaction and participation of the Public Forces. Eventual armed confrontations with FARC / EP militias.
How blind you are!
You who devastate our cities and lay waste
To the temples. You who ruin the tombs
And trample upon the sanctuaries wherein lie the ancient dead
You are also dead!!
We respectfully greet you.
Our historical proof and moral condemnation of the State for its clear responsibility in the persistent and grave situation of human rights violations and on-going social-political violence in Buenaventura which has occurred as a result of the struggle for control of the urban territory. The citizens of Buenaventura are suffering forced disappearances, selective killings and forced displacements; the people living in the Bajamar barrios are being criminalized.
We condemn the direct institutional responsibility for these crimes; for the institutional support of covert paramilitary operations which is occurring in spite of “demobilization;” for the failure to carry out effective and timely investigations which could clear up these crimes; for the failure to sanction and make integral reparation; and for the failure to prevent the repetition of crimes that so wound humanity’s conscience.
In what remains today of what is called justice, we continue to make known the presence and actions of the public forces which so loudly bear witness to the lack of respect for human rights and the discriminatory repression.
The State continues to lose legitimate authority: it uses paramilitary strategies in its fight against the FARC, strategies which by any measure are illegal and count as crimes against humanity. It is emptying entire barrios of their peoples in order to make way for large scale commercial infrastructure projects.
The FARC have also been responsible for grave infractions against human rights in the barrios in Buenaventura where they maintain a presence.
This is the reality in Buenaventura - a reality that is being hidden from the country and the international community - one of grave human rights violations which has grown into a major humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis which is being covered up and minimized and outright denied or distorted via the programs “Juntos,” “Familias en Accion,” and “Guardabosques,” which have become tools of officialdom and present the displaced as mendicants or groups of survivors deserving of help but not as people with rights.
In a recent report the People’s Defender indicated that between January and May of 2008 its office received 112 denouncements of disappearances and of 413 families displaced in Buenaventura. As of this writing, according to the registers, there are more than 50 thousand displaced in the city. And this number does not include those who have not been able to register their status due to the difficulty of being accepted as a valid displaced person or because of fears of further victimization.
The silence around the disappearances has become the best tool for hiding the reality of what is taking place. The Prosecutor‘s office does not investigate them, and so the witnesses to the terror and the families of the disappeared effectively get the message that to come forward would be very dangerous indeed. Silence and terror is thus linked to the banishment of thousands of people from their homes and their sea ; and day after day more and more are forced to leave their homes - their places in the world which are so linked to their identity as Afro-Colombians.
Buenaventura is the epicenter of the armed conflict which has openly moved into the urban areas. This is not due simply to the desire of the entities that finance the war for territorial control but rather for strategic control of territories that will strengthen the armed infrastructure - that of the State and that of the guerrilla. It is a phase of the armed struggle that is involving and affecting more and more civilians.
We bear witness to the grave and systematic events in which the State is complicit.
*Saturday, October 11th: At 10:00 p.m. paramilitaries that were mobilized in the “Country” and “Plancha” sectors in the San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios entered and occupied the “Puerta Roja” sector in the San Francisco barrio and an area of the Kennedy barrio in Comuna 7. Following this occupation there were confrontations between the paramilitaries and milicianos of the FARC EP who were stationed there and carrying small arms.
According to information received, the paramilitaries warned the milicianos that they would be killed if they didn’t give themselves up. The miliciano commander then met with the paramilitary leader known as “Camisa” and agreed to give themselves up and to work with the paramilitaries, keeping their arms. Some of the milicianos then stayed in the area and others decided to leave.
While all of this was taking place, there was a constant Police presence in the San Francisco and Kennedy barrios.
This is the second phase of the paramilitary occupation. The first began on September 3rd with the appearance of graffiti stating: “FARC CP MUERTE A PARA” (FARC CP DEATH TO THE PARAS ). That very day the Police entered the Juan XXIII barrio shooting in the air and calling the inhabitants guerrilla collaborators. That was also the beginning of a permanent Police presence in the San Francisco barrio.
*Sunday, October 12th: Around 2:00 p.m. paramilitaries killed LEONARDO HINESTROZA, apparently a miliciano, in the San Francisco barrio. He had participated in a crime against a storekeeper in the Kennedy barrio near to the area where the paramilitaries were stationed.
In the afternoon of the same day Police units, SIJIN, GAULA and Marine infantry entered the Kennedy barrio and, deploying themselves around different streets in the area, began patrolling. A group of paramilitaries, armed and dressed as civilians, then entered the area, in full view of the public forces. They stayed there, maintaining a presence in the San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios.
From the 13th to the 16th of October the paramilitary presence remained constant, simultaneous with that of the Police in the Kennedy, San Francisco and Juan XXIII barrios where they patrolled constantly.
*Thursday, October 16: There were confrontations between the FARC EP milicianos and the paramilitaries on “Brisas” Street in the Lleras barrio during the night.
*Friday, October 17th: During the morning the Afro-Colombian paramilitary commander known as “Camissa,” who was in charge of the “El Caguan” sector of the Juan XXIII barrio, entered the Juan Jose Rondon College and, classroom by classroom, threatened the students, telling them: “do not carry arms, especially in school. Do not use piercings or earrings and do not wear your hair long. Do not steal. If you do not obey these orders, you know what will happen.”
*Saturday, October 18: In the Lleras barrio during the night hours there was a confrontation between paramilitaries and FARC EP milicianos on “Runidera” Street. Two milicianos were killed in this battle and a youth from the area was wounded by a flying bullet. The paramilitaries had told the milicianos to give themselves up or be killed.
*Sunday, October 19th: Around 11:00 a.m. paramilitaries from “Piedras Cantas” in the Firme Bajo and the Alfonso Lopez barrios raided the Lleras barrio and occupied the areas covered by the “Brisa Marina,” “La Fortaleza” and “Brisas del Mar” streets. During their occupations these paramilitaries shot and killed dogs, shot up wooden houses all the while shouting that the inhabitants are “pimps and bandits.” This lasted until 2:00 p.m.. The people who live in the area called the Police various times asking for help. The police on duty told them that they had never heard of the Lleras barrio and told the callers that ,“Now, you see you need us - save yourselves as best you can.”
Around 100 families from the above-mentioned barrios and also from the “Veinte” and “Lleras barrios were forced to flee to other barrios and even as far as Cali. Beginning at around 3:00 there was a massive displacement; the paramilitaries threatened all the inhabitants with death telling them: “get out of here because we are going to kill all of you for being pimps.”
While these Afro-Colombians were fleeing, Police, stationed at CAI on 19th Street (also known as “La Guarapera”) five blocks from the area where the paras were terrorizing the people, were shouting at the fleeing populace to “Emigrate! Emigrate!”.
Around 5:00 p.m. Police and Marine infantry occupied the streets that the paramilitaries had taken over. They brought the few remaining inhabitants together and told them: “Do not flee. We are going to stay here.” Meanwhile, the paramilitaries stayed in the area, armed and dressed as civilians.
*Monday, October 20th: Around 100 displaced people went to the municipal offices demanding that their rights be respected: that they be granted protection, that the armed presence in their barrios be removed and that they be allowed to return to their homes.
Later in the afternoon, after the Security Council meeting was over, a city civil servant and the government municipal secretary told the petitioners directly and via the radio station Cascajal of RCN that: “We are going to give humanitarian attention to those displaced, but first they must register themselves as displaced and they must also collaborate with and call the Police at telephone number 123 about any problems they may be experiencing.”
As of this writing the inhabitants of the Lleras barrio are still being forcibly displaced. Very few people have returned.
At the time of the completion of this “Historical Proof,” the paramilitary occupations in the Rockefeller, Juan XXIII, San Francisco, Kennedy, Lleras, and La Inmaculada barrios continue. There is also a Marine Infantry presence in the tidal areas and Police patrols in the Llears barrio.
*Tuesday, October 21st: Paramilitaries entered and occupied the Santa Cruz and La Inmaculada barrios. They are still there as of this writing. This occupation was preceded by serious human rights violations and infractions of humanitarian law from January through until September.
STATE RESPONSIBILBITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND INFRACTIONS OF HUMANITARIAN LAW
*Tuesday, January 1st: At 1:50 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated the youth ALEXANDER CAICEDO BOHORQUEZ, 20 years old, in the El Triunfo barrio in Buenaventura. ALEXANDER was killed with a gun on a street in El Triunfo.
That same day paramilitaries assassinated the professional diver, FELIX CUNDUM, 39 years old, in the Cordoba section of Buenaventura. The paras knifed him in the groin and left him to bleed to death.
*Thursday, January 3rd: At 3:30 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated WASHINGTON CUERO MONTANO, 25 years old, They shot him various times in front of his home in the La Palera barrio.
*Saturday, January 5th: At 1:30 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated RICAUTE ANGULO VALENCIA, 54 years old, after breaking into his home in the Bellavista barrio. RICAUTE had been a Inderena worker and a Police inspector. At the time of his death he worked for a notary.
*Monday, January 14th: At 7:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated HOOVER DELGADO HINESTROZA, 34 years old. HOOVER was an auto mechanic and lived in the F-8 barrio..
*Saturday, January 19th: At 11;30 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated FREDDY FERNANDO QUINONEZ, 33 years old, in the Nayita barrio.
FREDDY was waking in the area with PATRICIA RAMIREZ when he was accosted by paramilitaries dressed as civilians who were in a camioneta 4x4, one of them openly carrying a gun. The paras attempted to force FREDDY and PATRICIA into the camioneta but FREDDY resisted and was killed on the spot. PATRICIA was forced into the camioneta.
Seconds later military units and Marine Infantrty ordered the camioneta to stop a few meters from where the above-mentioned events had taken place. The camioneta and its occupants were then taken to the Police Command Center in Buenaventura and detained by members of the Marine Infantry. There PATRICA was threatened with death if she dared repeat what she had seen. She was forced to sign a document and was let go about 3:00 p.m. The threats against PATRICIA were such that she was forced to flee the city after leaving the command station.
*Monday, January 21st: At 1:20 a.m. Buenaventura Police units beat the taxi driver CESAR AUGUSTO ROMERO HOYOS causing his death. Police units had been maintaining a check point at which CESAR AUGUSTO did not stop. The Police followed him to his home in the El Dorado barrio where they handcuffed him and beat him repeatedly, sometimes using motorcycle helmets. He was critically wounded and died on January 28th in the Buga Municipality Hospital.
*Wednesday, January 23rd: At 9:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated JUAN CARLOS CAMACHO ARAUJO, 25 years old. JUAN CARLOS lived in the Antonio Narino barrio and was shot and killed by paramilitaries in the El Progreso barrio.
*Saturday, January 26th: At 11:00 a.m. paramilitaries shot and killed the youth, FERNANDO CUERO MESA, 20 years old, near the Bellavista barrio.
*Monday, February 4th: At 9:00 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated the conductor JUAN CARLOS DELGADO IZQUIERDO, 26 years old, in the La Libertad barrio. The paras broke into JUAN CARLOS’ home and, in front of his mother, shot him various times and killed him.
*Saturday, February 22nd: Paramilitaries assassinated WILLIAM HINESTROZA, 23 years old, as he was walking down “Garrido” Street in the El Firme barrio.
*Saturday, February 29th: At 11:00 a.m. military units from the Marine Infantry occupied the Nayita barrio and, according to testimonies, the firearm of one of the marines went off killing LEIDER CAICEDO RIASCOS, 22 years old.
*Friday, March 28th: At 2:00 p.m. paramilitaries assassinated the youth, YEN LOPEZ BALLESTEROS, 17 years old, in the Uribe Uribe bario. Yen worked selling brooms.
*Friday, April 18th: At 6:30p.m. Police units assassinated FABIO ALBORNOZ GRUESO, 21 years old,. FABIO, an auto mechanic, was detained in the El Jorge barrio by Police agents who first searched and then beat him. FABIO attempted to flee but the police shot and killed him.
*Friday, May 2nd: Paramilitaries beat to death the senior citizen, VIDAL AGUILAR ORTIZ, 72 years old, after forcibly entering him home in the Vista Hermosa barrio. VIDAL was a taxi driver.
*Thursday, June 5th: At 8:00 in the morning paramilitaries assassinated MANUEL PACIFICO ARAGON as he was leaving his home in the Bellavista barrio. MANUEL was a municipal education supervisor. According to testimony, the paramilitaries had been in front of Manuel’s home for some tine waiting for him to appear.
*Monday, June 16th: Paramilitaries forcibly disappeared the Afro-Colombian campesinos, JUAN PAULINO MORENO, LIZARDO VERGARA BARCO, LUCIANO MORENO ACEVEDO AND TIRSON LOZANO GONZALEZ. These men had left their homes in Orpua and La Playita ,communities in the Docordo municipality in Choco, and were on there way to “EL Venadito” to cut wood. The Public Forces were present in the area at the time.
When family members and neighbors learned of their forced disappearances, they went to search for them.
*Monday, June 23rd: The campesinos who were looking for the four disappeared men arrived at “La Venadito,” a five hour walk from their homes in La Playita. There they found a farm house that had been burned.
The next day, June 24th, the campesinos found a grave under the burned farm house. In it they found the four men for whom they had been searching. They then returned to La Playita and told the Navy personnel about what they had found and asked for help to return the place of the killings. These Navy personnel limited themselves to offering them a bit of petrol for their return.
*Wednesday, June 25th: Family members and neighbors of the four killed men returned to “El Venadito” and disinterred the bodies of JUAN PAULINO MORENO, LIZARDO VERGARA BARCO, LUCIANO MORENO ACEVEDO and TIRSON LOZANO GONZALEZ who had been forcibly disappeared the previous June 16th.
Their bodies presented with bullet wounds and sings of having been beaten about their heads with axes. Their hands and feet were tied.
Those family members and neighbors who had found the bodies fled the region for fear of paramilitary reprisals.
*Wednesday, July 30th: Paramilitaries tortured and assassinated the Afro-Colombian youth, ARLEY VIAFARA, 21 years old. His body was found on “Brisas Marinas” Street in the Lleras barrio and presented with machete wounds and acid burns.
*Sunday, August 17th: Paramilitaries assassinated LIVISTONG NARANJO in the Los Pinos barrio, where they maintain an occupation.. LIVISTONG, 39 years old, was an auto mechanic and lived in the Doce de Abril barrio.
*Saturday, August 18th: Paramilitaries assassinated with a shot to his head the youth, JOSE LUIS RIASCOS, 20 years old. JOSE LUIS earned his living washing cars. He was walking in the Vista Hermosa barrio when he was attacked. Paramilitaries have a permanent presence in the Vista Hermosa barrio.
*Saturday, August 23rd: At 4:00 p.m. Buenaventura Police units assassinated VICTOR ALFONSO CUAMA, 23 years old, in the El Firme barrio on “Siete Leguas” Street. The police shot VICTOR in the face critically wounding him and would not allow the local inhabitants to call for emergency medical service. VICTOR died some minutes later. VICTOR was a fisherman.
*Wednesday, September 3rd: Around 3:00 p.m. police units entered the area known as “El Caguan” in the Juan XXIII barrio in Buenaventura. They first shot in the air simulating an armed confrontation and then searched the inhabitants, calling them guerrilla collaborators. Police then entered all of the homes and occupied rooms and back yards.
*Thursday, September 11th: At 8:30p.m. Police SIJIN units arbitrarily stopped 10 young Afro-Colombians in the “San Antnio” and “Puerta Roja” sectors of the San Francisco barrio. These youth were taken to the SIJIN installations in Buenaventura and photographed. They were released around 10:00 p.m. after the police had made written descriptions of them.
*Monday, September 8th: Buenaventura police units arbitrarily stopped and disappeared JONATHAN HURTADO IBARGUEN, a mentally ill person, who was 23 years old. According to various witnesses, JONATHAN was taken by a Police patrol in the Bajo Firme barrio. He has not been seen or heard from since.
*Thursday, September 18th: At 7:30 a.m. Police units, simulating an armed confrontation, shot various times in the San Antonio sector of the San Francisco barrio. The public forces maintain a permanent presence in this sector.
*Sunday, September, 21st: At 11:30 a.m. paramilitaries assassinated ARLEY GONZALEX PRETEL, 29 years old. ARLEY lived in the El Jorge barrios where he worked selling cell phone minutes. According to testimonies, ARLEY was making a phone call in a public phone booth in the Rockefeller barrio when paramilitaries shot him to death.
This same day, during the night, paramilitaries assassinated ORLANDO ANGULO ESTUPINAN, in the El Eucaristico barrio as he was driving in his car.
GUERRILLA INFRACTIONS OF HUMANITARIAN LAW
*Friday, January 4th: At 9:00 a.m. guerrilla milicianos from the FARC EP assassinated the fisherman, YEFERSSON ANTONIO MOSQUERA, 21 years old, in the Punta del Este barrio.
*Wednesday, January 30th: At 11:00 a.m. FARC EP milicianos assassinated JHON JAIRO GAMBOA VIVAS, 24 years old. JHON lived in the Maria Eugenia barrio.
*Saturday, February 9th: At 6:30p.m.FARC EP milicianos assassinated JEISSON ESTIVEN SALAZAR, 20 years old, as he was walking along a street in the Kennedy barrio.
*Friday, March 28th: At 10:45 p.m. FARC EP milicianos assassinated SANDRA MOSQUERA MARTINEZ in the Kennedy barrio.
*Sunday, April 6th: At 12:00 FARC EP milicianos assassinated the fishermen, JOSE JAIR RIASOS and JHON JAIRO VIVAS, both 20 years old. According to testimonies, these youth were killed in the Llears barrio on the “Antonio Narino” and “Manhattan” Streets, respectively.
*Saturday, April 12th: FARC EP milicianos assassinated the youth ANCHICO GONGORA, 19 years old, in the Inmaculada barrio. According to testimonies, ANCHICO worked in construction and had only come to Buenaventura from Cali a week previous to his assassination.
*Saturday, June 14th: FARC EP milicianos assassinated JAVIER RODRIGUEZ and JAVIER VALVERDE, 32 and 22 years of age respectively. They were killed in the Inmaculada barrio.
*Tuesday, August 5th: FARC EP milicianos assassinated MARIA TERESA LARGACHE REYES, 38 years old, in the Lleras barrio.
*Wednesday, September 3rd: These painted words appeared during the morning hours in the San Francisco barrio: “FARC CP MUERTE A PARA.”
ARMED CONFRONTATIONS IN THE BUENAVENTURA BARRIOS
*Tuesday, September 9th: Between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. militaries assigned to the Second Marine Infantry Brigade, SIJIN and Police judicial intelligence units, and AFEUR (Special Urban Action Forces), who had arrived in vehicles and motorcycles, raided the Tres Esquinas sector of the San Francisco barrio. AFEUR is an anti-terrorist unit that is part of the Navy’s ‘PLAN DE CHOQUE’ (SHOCK PLAN)
At the moment of the raid there was a brief confrontation between the Public Forces and the FARC EP milicianos. Around 6:00 p.m. the Public Forces retired from the area, while various paramilitaries dressed as civilians remained and occupied various abandoned homes Among the paramilitaries was the previously mentioned commander of the paramilitary base in the El Caguan sector in the Juan XXIII barrio known as “Camisa” and another known as “James.” They both belonged to the Calima Block. Their present legal situation is unknown.
*Thursday, September 11th: At 3:00 p.m. in the Country, La Cancha and Atanasio Girardot sectors of the San Francisco barrio, a group of FARC EP milicianos armed with rifles, revolvers and hand grenades made their way to the Caguan sector of the Juan XXIII barrio, anticipating a confrontation with the paramilitaries who have a base in that sector under the command of the same above-mentioned “Camisa.” Police and SIJIN camionetas arrived at the same time and shots were exchanged between them and the milicianos. A miliciano known as “El Calvo” was wounded as a result.
*Thursday, September 18th: At 7:30 a.m. in the San Antonio sector police units shot around indiscriminately and in the air.
*Friday, September 19th: Some Afro-Colombian families were forcibly displaced from their homes in the San Francisco barrio on account of the terrible anxiety and fear produced by the armed actions carried out by the regular and irregular armed groups who had been increasing their presence in this sector of the barrio since early September.
*Saturday, September 20th: At 8:30 p.m. in the Country sector of the San Francisco barrio there were further armed contacts between the paramilitaries and FARC EP milicianos. These occurred in an area near the football field.
*Sunday, September 21st: Around 4:00 a.m. shots were heard in the inlet areas of the San Francisco barrio in the San Antonio and El Country sectors. According to information received, the paramilitaries shot in the air in one sector and the milicianos of the FARC EP shot in the air in the other.
UNKNOWN AUTHORS OF SOCIAL-POLITICAL VIOLENCE
*Sunday, January 6th: Around midday, the youth ALEXANDER RODRIGUEZ RUBIO, 18 years old, was assassinated after leaving his home in the El Progreso barrio in a sector controlled by paramilitaries. ALEXANDER , who worked in his father’s woodworking shop, was on his way there when he was killed.
That same day, CRISTIAN ALBERTO MOSQUERA TOVAR, 21 years old, who suffered mental problems, left his home in the Antonio Narino barrio headed for the Gran Colombia barrio. He has not been seen or heard from since. Both of these barrios are under paramilitary control.
*Monday, January 7th: FEDERICO CASTRO PINEDA, 39 years old, was assassinated. He was a lumber merchant who lived in the Juan XXIII barrio.
*Tuesday, January 8th: FERNANDO POSSO MESTIZO, 35 years old, was assassinated by sicarios (hired assassins) who shot him repeatedly as he was about to enter his home in the Independencia barrio. FARC EP milicianos have a presence in that barrio.
In January of 2008 the body of VLADIMIR VALLECILLA VANEGAS, 26 years old, was found in the bajamar secion of the El Firme barrio. VLADIMIR worked in construction and lived on Garrido street in the El Firme barrio. His body, which was tied hand and foot, presented with signs of torture: his penis was cut, his eyes had been gorged out and his body burned with acid. VLADIMIR had been reported as disappeared on September 15, 2007.
*Thursday, January 10th: Around 9:00 p.m. Senora MARIA QUINTERO SANTA, 44 years old and a business woman, and her son, ESTEBAN QUINTERO, 4 years old, were knifed to death.. Their bodies were found the next day around 7:00 a.m. in the Juan XXIII barrio. Apparently MARIA’s husband had problems with drug traffickers. He was in Cartagena at the time of the killings.
*Monday, January 14th: MARLEN MICOLTA RIVAS, 17 years old, was assassinated in the early morning hours in the San Luis barrio. According to testimonies, MARLEN had left her home to go to a party the previous night and at 6:00 a.m. the next morning was found dead. Her body presented with two stab wounds and signs of having also been the victim of a violent sexual attack.
*Thursday, January 17th: MISAEL RODRIGUEZ, 44 years old, was assassinated in the Antonio Narino barrio.
*Sunday February 10th: LEONARDO ALOMA CALONGUE, 20 years old, and a resident of the El Cristal barrio, was assassinated in the early morning hours. His body presented with various bullet wounds in the head and thorax. His body was found in the Santa Fe barrio along the railroad tracks.
*Saturday, February 22nd: JHON JAMES HENAO, 40 years old, was assassinated after leaving his home in the Viento Libre barrio at 6:00 in the morning. His body was found two days later in the tidal area of San Antonio.
*Tuesday, February 25th: CARLOS RIVERA CASTRO, 20 years old, was assassinated in the El Modelo barrio.
*Sunday, March 16th: ERMIN VALENCIA RUIZ, 27 years old, was assassinated at 6:30 p.m. in front of his home in the Miraflores barrio.
Thursday, March 22nd: JADER ANTONIO CASTRO LABORABA, 30 years old, was seen for the last time at 7:00 p.m. Nothing is known of whereabouts since that time. JADER, who was a container supervisor, was wearing a yellow shirt with café colored stripes, short blue jeans and black tennis shoes at the time of his disappearance.
*Saturday, March 29th: YIMI YHOJAN CAICEDO, 20 years old and a crap iron dealer, was assassinated at 8:40 a.m. An unidentified man broke into his home located in the Jorge Eliecer Gaitan barrios and shot him four times. There is a strong paramilitary presence in this barrio which belongs to Comuna 9. YIMI’s mother witnessed his killing.
*Tuesday, April 1st: CRISTHIAN DELGADO CORTES, 22 years old and a secondary school student, was assassinated as he was walking along one of the streets in the Independencia barrio. He was shot twice. CRISTHIAN lived in the Bolivar barrio.
*Sunday, April 6th: The Afo-Colombian, VICTOR LUGO LEUDO, construction worker, was assassinated at 9:00 p.m. Unidentified men shot him various times near his home in the El Porvenir barrio.
*Friday, April 25th: JUSTO MASIAS BECERRA, 51 years old, a retired Colombia Port worker, was reported disappeared by his family at 6:30 p.m. His body was found two days later in the Santa Cruz tidal area. It presented with signs of torture and was half buried.
JUSTO’S children denounced his killing to SIJIN and led them to the area where his body was found. While there the existence of other unidentified graves were noticed.
JUSTO was a leader in his barrio and a candidate for the presidency of the Barrio Communal Action Council. Elections were scheduled for April 27th. The present council president has been threatened by FARC EP milicianos.
*Thursday, May 15th: The Afro-Colombian, ROBINSON PAZ, was assassinated at 2:45 p.m. ROBINSON was a construction worker and lived in the Antonio Narino barrio. He was with some friends in the Union de Vivienda sector when he was killed.
*Wednesday, August 20th: SEGUNDO SALAS BANGUERA, 39 years old, was found dead in the Bajamar area of the Inmaculada barrio. SEGUNDO , a native of the Calambre River area, worked in a saw mill and lived in the Santa Fe barrio. Four days after his family reported him as disappeared ,his body was found with eight knife and four bullet wounds.
OUR MORAL CONDEMNATION
These cases have been revealed, some confidentially, by family members and witnesses who are in states of severe emotional crises. In spite of this and in spite of living in a state of terror and high tension, they have dared to speak.
We condemn the practice carried out by the public forces of calling the Afro-Colombians guerrilla auxiliaries; we condemn their on-going apprehensions and illegal detentions; we condemn their complicity in and tolerance of the secret paramilitary style strategies by which the systematic disappearances are effected.
The constant presence of the public forces in Buenaventura in the majority of the barrio sectors and their incursions into urban spaces where there is a guerrilla presence have led to paramilitary type operations and criminal control over the lives and territories of the citizens. It is not a secret from anyone that the public forces support or use paramilitary groups in their confrontations and in their brutal harassment of the people. It is only the State institutions that close their eyes.
We require immediate intervention into the Army Brigades, the Navy and the Police who are operating in Buenaventura and facilitating a new phase of paramilitary consolidation . We require the immediate substitution of the high commands and the strict application of humanitarian law. We require a confrontation with the paramilitary structures, particularly the so-called “Cuervos,” who have declared war on the guerrilla milicianos and identify the citizens as FARC collaborators. All of this has generated a massive new wave of forced displacements.
The families of the Rockefeller, Juan XXIII and San Francisco barrios live in the midst of paramilitary operations which are backed by the public forces. They are in constant fear of the armed confrontations with the FARC guerrillas and of forced displacement and irreparable damage to their lives and personal integrity. And, as we have seen above, young people are particular targets of armed retaliations.
We Morally Condemn the displacements caused by the paramilitary operations and the armed confrontations. People are being uprooted from their homes and lands; the Afro-Colombians are not being protected and their survival as a people is at risk.
We require that the victims of the forced displacements be recognized as people with rights under the law. Forced displacement requires a state response that validates the socio-cultural identity of those displaced and an intervention that deals with the causes of the displacements. Basic needs must be met and the quality of life improved. These interventions must be social and not military and that section of Article 169 of the International Organization of Work, which refers to the right of consultation and the need for sufficient information in collective decision making, must be applied.
In addition to this on-going violent uprooting, different infrastructure projects are presently underway which are also causing displacements : Agua Dulce, the Industrial Port Complex, G2 and the Ecopetrol oil exploration initiatives in the rural areas. These projects are generating forced displacements, a case in point being those occurring in the Calima and San Juan river areas.
We leave you with this PROOF of the grave crimes occurring against the inhabitants of Buenaventura, many of which are crimes against humanity. These crimes form a pattern and are part of an aim for territorial control, a control which goes beyond military and social control. Economic interests are the moving force here. In the name of the people who are suffering and the Afro-Colombians who are being destroyed for the sake of these interests, we appeal to the State for coherent action that conforms to a true and authentic Lawful Social State wherein life with dignity is possible for all; where the majority are not forced to live in indignity so that a few are able to live with wealth and well-being.
With profound indignation and anxiety,
THE INTERECCLESIASTICAL COMMISSION OF JUSTICE AND PEACE