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Friday, December 18, 2009

Father Giraldo's letter to WSJ Editor

Bogota, Colombia
December 17, 2009

Mr. Paul Gigot
Editor of the Editorial Page:wsj.ltrs@wsj.com

The Editor
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Gigot:

I wish to refer to the article which appeared in your paper on December 14
of this year, authored by the journalist Mary Anastasia O'Grady, which
bears the
title "The FARC and the 'Peace Community'". On another occasion, your
newspaper published my letter of protest for a similar libelous article
(June 22,
2001) and I hope now you will also rectify the repetition of the same

The author of the libelous article bases her statements on an interview she
did with a deserter from the FARC known by the alias "Samir", who has been
lodged in a barracks of the Colombian Army since November of 2008, violating
all legal norms. From there he has lent himself to a media strategy,
during the last 13 years by this same military brigade (the Seventeenth
which seeks to destroy the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado,
combining massacres, disappearances, extortion, massive forced
sexual abuse, destruction of homes and crops, bombarding of the civilian
population, creation of paramilitary structures, judicial setups and
other crimes
(we have denounced more than 750 crimes), with defamatory campaigns which
look to justify all these horrors and hide the culpability of the
Government in all of
these atrocities.

The source supporting the author of this libelous presentation, who
according to the military is named "Daniel Sierra Martinez", began his
campaign against the Peace Community on May 28, 2009 under the direction of
the former Minister of Interior of President Uribe, Mr. Fernando Londono
who is well known for his lack of ethics which has brought him several
condemnations and resulted in his departure from his ministerial
position. After
preparing himself for six months coming up with all kinds of falsehoods
in the
Seventeenth Brigade of the Army, where hundreds of false accusations against
the Peace Community have been manufactured---falsehoods which are being
investigated today by the Colombian justice system and by international
tribunals--- Mr. Sierra Martinez has not hesitated to go ahead and
repeat the
same falsehoods on radio stations, despite the fact that the Peace Community
issued a statement in which it responded to his lies one by one. I annex
a copy of
the statement to this letter.

You may ask why the communications media in Colombia have broadcast
the falsehoods of Mr. Sierra. Sad to say, the mass media in Colombia
have as a
priority support for the present Government and in the attack on the Peace
Communities, as with many social movements and popular organizations, the
interests of this Government are evident. Within the present conflict which
Colombia is experiencing, as everyone knows, this Government has opted for a
military, violent solution. The communities who have chosen not to let
themselves become involved in the war are de-legitimized by the Government,
as has been the case for the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado. The
only way of attacking them which would have a legal appearance would be to
prove that these communities or movements work with the guerrillas.
Uribe made 5 false accusations against the Peace Community publicly on March
20, 2005, trying to make people believe that the Community was a
with the guerrillas. The Community has demanded a retraction from him during
the last 5 years, with the support of the nation's Procurador General
General) and by means of a judicial proceeding in the Commission of
Accusations of the Chamber of Representatives of the Colombian Congress
(Case File 1712), following the precise instructions of the
Constitutional Court
(Decision T-1191/04). However, up to now neither a sanction nor a
retraction has
been produced. This has led the President to call upon other actors to
the Peace Community, such as the daily newspapers El Colombiano and El
Mundo in the city of Medellin, the radio stations RCN and Radio Super,
the local
Apartado radio station Stereo, radio stations run by the Army (of which
there are
many), some columnists, such as Mr. Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza and others, and
now the FARC deserter alias "Samir". Meanwhile, the Army patrols and
paramilitary groups which sweep through the region support themselves on the
presidential slander ("this community is a guerrilla community") to
justify their
sexual abuses, their threats, their torture, their planting of mines in the
countryside, their judicial set-ups, their murders, their destruction of
crops and
their thefts and blockading of foods.

The Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado is a community of poor
campesinos (peasants), in spite of one of the falsehoods spread by the
which suggests that they have enormous quantities of money coming from
international donations, which is absolutely false. As occurs daily
among the poor
in Colombia and everywhere, they do not have money to defend themselves from
the dirty slanderous campaigns of the rich and of the Government. It is
for that
reason that the crime which Ms, O'Grady is committing is so repulsive and

I request, Mr. Editor, that you make amends in some way for this disgrace,
although surely now the damage could not be repaired except in small
after having perpetrated so immoral and criminal an action, in support
of a true

I can do no more than manifest my deepest ethical censure of such
infamous proceedings.


Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J.

Copy: Mary Anastasia O'Grady: O'Grady@wsj.com



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