10th anniversary of the Massacre at the Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado

Stones remembering the massacre on 21 February 2005
Stones remembering the massacre on 21 February 2005 © unknown photographer, taken from http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR23/002/2009/en/f50d06ea-b9e1-49cb-b188-2fa000e3a4ea/

On the 10th anniversary of the massacre of members of the Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado, we share with you two recent reports from the community (translated by M. Mannion) which show that today the threat is still real and that individuals are - again and again - being intimidated and attacked.

Report 5 January 2015


It is as if in Uraba there had been constructed two totally different roads, each with completely conflicting stories told and experienced.

And so we begin to find and unravel the two situations that prevail and through which more than ever we live today, one situation which manifests itself in theory and the other in which we live day by day. Henceforth we knew that to build an alternative dignified way of living would be in contravention of the actual thinking of the State.

We have been able in our own lives to appreciate how, during these many years, the story remains stubbornly the same: there is killing, assassinations and to these ends the most atrocious means and the most cynical and perverse traps are utilised.

We suffered paramilitarism day by day, and we could easily see it developing, until it came to destruction and complete impunity flowing from the logic introduced by the State into Uraba and Columbian society.

Perhaps the saving grace of our journey is, in spite of the horror, that they have not managed to shut us up and this they will not achieve until they have wiped out the last member of our community.

We believe that during these years we have been able to commit ourselves to a life in which we shall not be silenced when confronted with death and paramilitarism , which is more alive than ever, assassinations continuing in Uraba under the noses of the press and the institutions of State which deny everything. However, the breath of these victims, in their silence, tells us that we must continue to protest and reject this barbarism.

As to the country, not only has it remained ignorant of all the horrible deeds perpetrated against the communities, but moreover, persuaded of the necessity of living in silence and, above all, in spite of the horrors, to imagine that we are living in a perfect country, that we must learn to forget the deaths and that the murderers are not paramilitaries but newly arrived bandits, that the theft of land is merely redistribution made to the assassins and the great landowners for their patriotic spirit, that the natural resources that are being exploited and the displacement taking place represents real progress and development within the country.

It is evident that reality is turned upside down, death is presented as life and the murderer is the victim. That is what this so-called security of a democratic state has taught us. Over all these years of the Community of Peace, it has sought to justify its horror and it can only brand us a guerrillas - the naivety of the killer and his total hypocrisy!

So we cannot forget the support which we have found, organisations that are vital to our community that have enabled us to fulfil our aims thanks to the solidarity of many hundreds of people throughout the world who believe that injustices and impunity cannot be the course of history.

We know that we are entering another new year (2015) and as a community we would have wished that the reality were not the same as all those years of death and war, but regrettably, as we have said, it is much worse.

To make this cry midst death, for which paramilitarism is responsible in actions alongside the State, has cost us enormously. However, we believe that this commitment to the truth encourages us not to give in to barbarism.

To each person who has passed through our Community of Peace, not only on the ground, but has sometimes been in touch with us, in some document, on a page, in a video, in a photo or has simply listened, thanks for that; between us we can build a different life and be respected, that is solidarity!

We reaffirm again our way of living, and at the same time extend a fraternal greeting and gratitude to all of those who have accompanied us nationally and internationally, to all those worldwide who have travelled with us, and to all those who believe in respect for ordinary people in the midst of conflict - many thanks.

Community of Peace of San Jose de Apartado


Report 16 February 2015


On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the macabre massacre of the 21st February, perpetrated by forces of the XVII Brigade of the National Army and paramilitaries and which, in spite of the truth revealed and confessed by its own killers, the rampant impunity continues: our Community of Peace sees as its ethical and moral obligation to record evidence of fresh degrading deeds and crimes against humanity.

The deeds are:

  • Monday, the 9th February 2015, in the Arenas Bajas District, a worker, Ruben Carbajal, was tortured by a section of troops of the National Army based in Carepa, Antioquia, who, after the arbitrary arrest , proceeded to burn his mouth with acid and following these acts of barbarity, conducted other acts of torture against the civilian while he was tied to a tree and, threatened to kill him, accusing him of being a guerrilla leader and of having information of the whereabouts of guerrillas in the area.

  • Tuesday, the 10th February 2015, a public service vehicle travelling the road between Apartadó and San José, was intercepted by hooded men in the sector of ‘yellow land’ and who were identified as members of the paramilitaries. There they enquired of the occupants of the vehicle as to certain inhabitants of the area who were on their list for assassinations.

  • Friday, the 13th February 2015, various inhabitants of the locality listened to Alias Samir, who, across the radio links of the police, army and navy, made accusations against our Peace Community, stating that he had been the victim of complaints by the Peace Community. Alias Samir, a deserter from FARC (Armed Forces of the Columbian Republic), since 2008, and protected by the XVII Brigade, from which he has fabricated numberless false allegations against workers of the town of San José and against our Peace Community.

  • Monday, 16th February 2015, in the evening, various members of our Peace Community and relatives, victims of the massacre of the 21st February received calls from an individual who identified himself as a lawyer from the office of the Public Defender, to request that the family and in particular the children of Luis Eduardo Guerra should appear at a hearing on the 18th February 2015 in the city of Apartadó to receive the plan for redress of victims of the State. To this the same family answered that before money compensation, truth and judgement of those responsible for that horrible massacre, was needed.

  • Tuesday 17th February 2015, in the magazines ‘SEMANA’ and ‘Verdadabierta’ (‘Open truth’) an article entitled ‘Is the agenda the FARC in Nudo de Paramillo on-going?’ was published, in which, it was reported that the FARC supposedly held a meeting in the month of September 2013 somewhere in Nudo de Paramillo, to outline its plans for September 2013. The account reads word for word: ‘with regard to the business of the Peace Community of San José (de Apartadó) within which there are some militants of the PC3 (Clandestine Communist Party of Colombia) .’ We do not know the authenticity or veracity of these documents, whether they exist or not, but our Peace Community reject the quoted imputations and demand respect. Neither our Peace Community nor its members engage in military or any kind of political activity and therefore ask for respect for our independence.

In the next days our Peace Community will, after 10 years of pain, be commemorating our dead, especially in the massacre of the 21 February, Luis Eduardo and all of them, we remember them, their words will be with us today and always. The pain and the anguish caused by the cold-blooded killers will never destroy the aspirations of the Peace Community.

We appreciate the solidarity of all those in many parts of the world who with their sense of humanity give us courage to continue to create the means of living midst pain and death.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

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