The ethical collapse of “Justice” has reached the “information” media
San José de Apartadó se declaró comunidad de paz el 23 de marzo de 1997. Aproximadamente 500 campesinos, pertenecientes a 17 veredas, decidieron organizarse para sacar la guerra de su territorio, para no colaborar con ningún actor armado, para llevar adelante un proceso de neutralidad respecto del conflicto.
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
A new attack against our Peace Community is trying to destroy our ethical endowment in the eyes of national and international public opinion. The attack uses methods that are inconceivably perverted and mean. It took place last May 28, 2009 at 6:10 a.m., when President Uribe’s ex-Minister of Interior and Justice, FERNANDO LONDOÑO HOYOS, interviewed the ex guerilla commander alias “SAMIR” on his radio program “The Hour of Truth”, broadcast by Radio Super. “SAMIR” commanded the Otoniel Alvarez Company of the FARC’s 5th front. He had turned himself in to the Army last November 2008.
That interview thoroughly resembled a script agreed-upon beforehand, aimed at the defamation of the people of our Community. It was saturated with lies, slanders, manipulations and treacherous comments, overflowing with hate. It was impossible to conceal their fury toward a group of victims that they are trying to disparage, with the confessed purpose of discouraging any kind of solidarity with them and also of misrepresenting their determined battle for justice and truth.
The country is only too well aware of the ways and the approach taken by ex Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, who has certainly not distinguished himself by his respect for universal and elemental ethical principles. In 1997, he acquired 145 million shares in INVERCOLSA fraudulently, by passing himself off as an employee of the company, when he was not one, and then rapidly transferring the money to a Panamanian company. That led to judicial and disciplinary procedures that were finally resolved by the Constitutional Court in August of 2007, a resolution that required him to return the money. The situation had already resulted in a censure motion by the Congress, obliging him to resign his position as Minister on November 6, 2006.
Neither is the country unaware of the ideological positions of ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS. These have been characterized by his defense of authoritarian models of government and society; by his exaltation of militarism and of resolving social conflicts by force; by intransigent defense of soldiers accused of crimes against humanity and of virulent attacks against prosecutors, judges and courts that have allowed charges against killers allied with the government and with the “para-government” to proceed to judgment.
In his column that appears in El Tiempo and El Colombiano, he has shamelessly defended persons accused of horrendous crimes and attacked the prosecutors who have pursued the cases. He defended the signers of the Ralito Agreement (El Colombiano, July 31, 2007, page 4a); he attacked the Attorney General for charging the soldiers in the Jamundi case and for charging the ex-director of DAS (Colombian FBI) Jorge Noguera; for pursuing the “false positives” cases and the massacres at San José de Apartadó, at Santo Domingo and at Cajamarca (El Colombiano, February 27, 2007, March 6, 2007, and March 13, 2007, pages 4a).
He has even attacked the ex-director of DAS Andrés Peñate for taking a position contrary to that of his predecessor Jorge Noguera, because Noguera was close to President Uribe (El Colombiano, March 20, 2007, page 4a). He has defended the multinational Chiquita Brands for its support of the paramilitaries in Urabá (El Tiempo, March 29, 2007, pages 1-23); he defended the “Operation Fenix” that violated the sovereignty of Ecuador (El Tiempo, November 20, 2008, pages 1-21) and he has supported the questionable thesis of ex-Minister Juan Manuel Santos of “legitimate defense” in that attack (El Tiempo, March 12, 2009, pages 1-21).
He accepted the versions that favored those accused of huge massacres, contrary to the evidence known to the whole country: Jamundi, the 19 merchants killed in Magdalena Medio, Wilson Borja, Chengue, Santo Domingo, Drummond, Palace of Justice, Mapiripán, La Llorona, the “false positives”, Cajamarca, etc. (El Tiempo, February 28, 2009, pages 1-21). He went after President Uribe himself, with hammer and tongs, because he fired 27 military officers accused of participating in “false positives”, and after the Court in Cundinamarca that ordered the prohibition of bombing areas with civilian population (El Tiempo, February 12, 2009, pages 1-21). His defense of these officers is brazen, arbitrarily and irrationally smearing all of the evidence that points to them as actors or accomplices in these great state crimes. It demonstrates that the only thing that makes an impression on him, even then very abstractly, are the violent acts of the guerrillas. Confronted by the millions of victims of the agents of the government and of the “paragovernment”, he demonstrates only lassitude, and hatred focused on those who complain of those actions.
Against the backdrop of these, his positions, known to the entire country, we can understand his hatred and virulence against our PEACE COMMUNITY. We have been the victims of the criminality of the armed forces and their paramilitary accomplices, and we have made complaints of these crimes without backing down, both nationally and internationally. That is what most wears down ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS and drives him out of his mind. It makes him explode with the most extreme manifestations of hatred and intolerance, resorting, as he knows how to do, to the most infamous devices of lying, defamation, manipulation, deceit, dissimulation, tricks, and scheming.
The individual he interviewed, alias “SAMIR”, who may, according to the Army, actually be named “DAFNIS DANIEL SIERRA MARTÍNEZ”, says that he joined the FARC guerrillas in 1985, desiring to meet good-looking women and because he enjoyed using weapons. If he had any social or political motivation, the interview did not reveal it. He was known in the area of San José de Apartadó since the end of the ‘90’s as the commander of the “Otoniel Alvarez Company”, part of the Fifth Front of the FARC. His troops moved around the ranges of the Abibe Mountains, in rural areas near San José de Apartadó. After the creation of our Peace Community in March of 1997,his “Otoniel Alvarez Company” murdered more than 30 residents of San José de Apartadó. Our Community condemned these actions energetically and filed public complaints, as our communication records show.
On May 4, 1997, they killed Liliana Londoño; On October 6, 1997, they killed three of our first leaders: Ramiro Correa, Fernando Aguirre, and Luis Fernando Espinoza; On January 18, 1998, they killed Giovanny Lora; On October 24, 1998, they killed Elkin Emilio Sepúlveda; In September, 1999, they killed William Gonzalez David, along with his 8[year-old son, Juan Carlos Sierra; On January 12, 2000, they killed at different times and in different places, Wilson Martinez and Duvalier Torres;
In February of 2000 they killed Jaime Garcia; On July 16, 2000 they killed Fredy Mazo; In September of 2000 they killed Alberto Restrepo. In the same year 2000, they killed, on different dates, Alvaro Largo and Antonio Borja. On August 18, 2001, they killed two refreshment vendors in the town of Caracoli; On December 15, 2001, they killed Henry Tuberquia; On June 21, 2002,they killed Aleyda Areiza; On July 28, 2002, they killed Jorge Eliécer Atehortúa; In the same month of July 2002, they killed Pedro Vargas; In October 2002, they killed Inés Jimenez, along with her two small children, in the town of El Porvenir.
In the same year of 2002, they “disappeared” Gustavo Guzmán; On November 17, 2004, they killed Amador Delgado; On December 6, 2004, they killed three indigenous people from the Embera Community at Las Playas, near San José: Arturo Domicó, Misael Domicó, and Horacio Bailarín; On August 13, 2005, they killed Carlos Lopez; On September 15, 2005, they killed Ángela Correa;
In 2006, they killed Germán Sepúlveda.
Our Community was also informed that this same Company had killed a daughter of Mrs. Margarita Ciro and a driver with the last name of Muñoz in the town of El Guineo. They gave him a trial of just a few minutes. They also killed a man they had kidnapped and then set free, only to murder him. Every time that members of our Peace Community met him or members of his Company, they begged him not to shed any more blood. They told him that if he had evidence that paramilitaries were infiltrating our Peace Community, as they were saying, they ought to present some proof and the Peace Community would exclude them, because the Community does not admit armed actors and does not collaborate with them. Nevertheless, that Company continued murdering members of our group until 2006.
Alias “SAMIR” surrendered to the Army’s 17th Brigade, headquartered in Carepa, Antioquia, in November of 2008. Surprisingly, and contrary to their usual procedure, none of the communications media reported this surrender until five months later. Members of the Apartadó Diocese, members of international organizations, and occasional guests who visited the 17th Brigade during that time, noticed his presence at the military headquarters. Nobody knew why they didn’t follow the normal procedure in Article 4 of Decree 128 of 2003, where the steps to follow in case of an individual 4 demobilization are established. It states: “Once the demobilized individual has been received by the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Interior shall be informed within three working days, and the individual is to be turned over to the Ministry within no more than 15 days. The physical delivery of the demobilized individual is to be carried out with a certificate containing all of his personal data, his fingerprints, and the circumstances of his demobilization from the armed group to which he belonged. (Paragraph 1.) In order to advance the necessary investigation and clarify the juridical situation of persons benefiting from this Decree, the Ministry of the Interior is to coordinate with the Attorney General and the Board of Judges to designate prosecutors and judges.”
In open violation of these rules, alias “SAMIR” has remained at 17th Brigade headquarters. This is not the first time this has happened. Many demobilized individuals in the region have been housed at those headquarters and have taken part illegally in combat activities with the Army and frequently in the commission of crimes against the civilian population, such as bargained-for exchanges of the benefits that they receive there. Not only that, ever since our Peace Community has existed, officials of that Brigade have forced the supposedly “demobilized” individuals to collaborate in the extermination of our Community. That collaboration has included providing false declarations to the prosecutors co-opted by the Brigade; patrolling together with the soldiers in rural areas and threatening many farmers with “filing false charges against them or executing them”; inviting many of them to abandon the Peace Community, telling them that they ought to “demobilize”, though they had no reason to, since they had never been combatants.
The same pressures were used against people who were illegally detained at the Brigade Headquarters: they blackmailed Gloria Tuberquia, telling her that she would lose her 9- month-old daughter if she did not sign the accusations that they put before her and if she did not “demobilize”, although she was not a combatant; after they murdered her four year- old son, they made Liliana Rojas sign illegal declarations and then they added numerous pages of accusations that she did not make and did not even know about. The false declarations of these two victims were used in numerous criminal files as “proof” against residents of the region.
Similarly, they got false and “paid-for” declarations by extortion from Heliodoro Benitez, Wilmar Durango, Samuel Antonio Tuberquia, Wilson Guzman, William Guzman, Elkin Dario Tuberquia, Apolinar Guerra, Carlos Alberto Garcia, Jorge Eliécer Palacio, Luis Alberto Pino, William Montoya, Henry Guzman and the Ovidio brothers, Lubin and Albeiro Cardona Borja. We have seen some of them lying without any shame to the powerful communications media, and we have read their false declarations that turn up in numerous files, falsehoods, all of them, that have been accepted as judicial “proof” by our corrupt judiciary, without any respect for the most elementary rules and criteria contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
All of this has been reported to the highest courts in the country, but up to now we have not seen any willingness to do justice. It is painful to see how, in a number of these cases, the moral conscience of these peasant farmers falsely “demobilized” has been violated and broken down by perverse psychological procedures. In some of the cases, they were promised rewards but have not received them. After using them vilely as throwaway instruments in the service of the plan to exterminate our Community, they abandon them when their crude mistakes have taken them to prison. Some of them have now confessed these mistakes, regretting to see that their self-image has been converted into a moral waste.
Since 1995, when ex-General Rito Alejo del Rio served as Commander of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army, violence increased enormously in our region and the population of San José de Apartadó was the victim of numerous executions, massacres, disappearances, tortures, arbitrary detentions and threats. Since the birth of our Peace Community, in March of 1997, the 17th Brigade has spared no effort to exterminate it, first with bombing in all of the small towns, massive forced displacements, rapes and sexual abuse, extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, burning of houses, destruction of crops, tortures, death threats, announcements of extermination, judicial scams, illegal and arbitrary arrests, campaigns of defamation, and pressure on institutions and social groups to isolate the Community and remove any legal services, theft of pack animals, of work tools, of household goods, of energy production, of school staff, of shipments of community commercial products and of money earned by that commerce.
When the scandalous number of massacres, executions and disappearances carried out by agents, directly and indirectly, of the government—a number that now exceeds 160 victims—the international community took notice. The Brigade then initiated an obvious intensification of disparagement and false prosecutions of the members of our Peace Community and of the surrounding population. They used false charges, as demonstrated by the super-corrupt criminal cases whose analysis we referred to the high courts a few months ago.
When President Uribe began his first term in 2002,he proposed to crush the most basic principles of our Community, that of refusing to live or to collaborate with any armed actor. That meant that the Peace Community would not take part in the plan for military/paramilitary control of the area. For that reason they developed a campaign intended to make people think that our Community was part of the FARC guerrillas. That would help them to justify the presence of the armed forces on all the life and work in our Community, and through that, the paramilitary control of the territory. The infamous calumnies against our Community on May 27, 2004 and March 20, 2005 obliged us to seek the aid of the House of Representatives Accusation Committee, requesting that it sanction the Chief of State as required by Decision T-1191 /04 of the Constitutional Court. The Procurator General supported our petition, given that President Uribe had used false witnesses prepared by the 17th Brigade in order to put together his defamatory statements.
The attacks on our Community, on the part of the President and Vice President, as well as by the Army and those judicial officials co-opted by the military, have had an unmistakable purpose: to exterminate our leaders and principal associates, and, if it is not possible to eliminate them, to destroy their moral reputations and so to prepare the justification for exterminating them. The 17th Brigade prepared a phony scheme on February 12, 2003, when they tried to kill two members of our Internal Council when they were riding in a bus between Apartadó and San José by placing a box of explosives in the interior of the bus in order to justify the crime. This clearly revealed what General Pauxelino Latorre, then-commander of the 17th Brigade, was planning. He wanted to accuse the Internal Council of our Community of furnishing explosives to the guerrillas and thus have all the members charged falsely with crimes. A few days before they had blackmailed a young man from our Community by means of a collaborator from the Brigade, Wilson Guzman. They made him file complaints with the prosecutors in Apartadó against all the leaders of our Community, alleging false crimes. They threatened him that, if he did not do it, they would accuse him of being a “miliciano” (guerrilla) and they would charge him immediately, using other false witnesses.
In spite of the clumsiness of the phony complaints and in spite of the fact that all the government authorities were immediately informed of what was going on, General Latorre published communications via internet in which he accused the leaders of our Community of being “members of the Otoniel Alvarez Front of the FARC”. These communications then served as the basis for “intelligence reports” and for “battle orders” furnished by the Brigade to prosecutors and judges. The super-corrupt judicial officials in the region used them as “judicial proof”. Ever since then, the names of all of our leaders and supporters appear in numerous judicial files, with information extracted from the papers that the Brigade passes around, along with the names of numerous “witness statements”, all prepared at military headquarters to provide false testimony.
We view the surrender of alias “SAMIR” to the 17th Brigade and his illegal stay there for many months as one more event that follows the old script and strategy. The only thing new is the rank of the demobilized individual, in that this time it is the commander of an insurgent company. Everything that has led up to this supports the belief that he is being used to advantage for the accomplishment of their long-time plan to exterminate our Peace Community. This is especially true when we see that his surrender took place at the time of the disparagement and false judicial complaints, the contribution to which of such deserter could be of exceptional importance if they are careful to offer him rewards and benefits. His interview by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS might have had some credibility if it had happened the same day as his surrender, when it might be supposed that there was some degree of spontaneity. But after five months of negotiation and preparation at the military headquarters where they have produced such a number of criminally false complaints, its credibility collapses.
Actually, the euphoria of the military has been high in the last few months, to judge by the comments and messages that are left on roads and in towns by the military and paramilitary patrols that have been making the rounds in the area. They announce that “At last the final thrust has arrived for the Peace Community.” The excess of euphoria has been such that COLONEL GERMÁN ROJAS DÍAZ, commander of the Voltígeros (“Specially chosen”) Battalion that controls the area of San José de Apartadó, was not ashamed to telephone a former member of the Internal Council of our Community, on January 17 and February 7, 2009, and propose that he collaborate in the final extermination of the Peace Community, offering him a large amount of money, and threatening that, if he did not accept, they would accuse him of “financing Front 58 of the FARC, and also of being a drug trafficker”. What leaves us perplexed is that all of this is known to the Ministry of Defense, to the national and regional (Antioquia) offices of the Attorney General, and to the Public Defender’s Office, and there has been no punishment whatsoever for the authors and accomplices of such filthy and execrable actions. The ethical collapse of this government could not be more evident. The command responsibility of the 17th Brigade has not been questioned about this corruption and now it has been proved that they were busy negotiating with alias “SAMIR” for his contribution to the defamation campaign against our Peace Community.
Working hard, as the military has always been, to attack mainly the leaders of our Community, now it becomes clear that with alias “SAMIR” they have negotiated a frontal attack on three of our supporters: Eduar Lanchero, Doctor Gloria Cuartas, the ex- Mayor of Apartadó, and the Jesuit priest, Javier Giraldo. They have already succeeded in physically eliminating one of our historically most valued leaders: Luis Eduardo Guerra, in the horrendous massacre of February 21, 2005. Not long ago, they tried to eliminate the present legal representative of our Community, Jesús Emilio Tuberquia, on November 1, 2008.
In the case of EDUAR, we understand that they had asked alias “SAMIR” to create such a flagrant contrivance against him because the military urgently needed to justify the numerous efforts they had already made to eliminate him. Eduar was sent to our Community by the religious congregations that make up the Commission for Justice and Peace in 1997, in those first months in which we suffered the massive displacements resulting from the bombings by the Army and the incursions coordinated by the paramilitaries. He stayed with us in the most painful moments and he helped us bury our dead and organize our survival in the midst of terror and food blockades.
Our Community begged him to stay longer, and he became as one of us. On May 24, 1998, a group of soldiers from the 17th Brigade promised that they would cut him in pieces, just as they had cut up a cow that they stole and killed with a bullet that same day. On December 2, 2002, the Highway Police on the outskirts of Tunja arrested Eduar arbitrarily, along with Luis Eduardo Guerra and other members of our Community. They took his cell phone, his papers, and his work files. What infuriated the intelligence agents who interrogated him with extreme vulgarity was that, when going through his papers, they found documents related to human rights and records showing meetings with the Ministry regarding the protective order issued by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. The members of the armed forces insisted that human rights groups are what is wrong with Colombia.
In February 2003, members of our community were the victims of the scheme put forth by the 17th Brigade to place a box of explosives in a vehicle where members of our Community’s Council were traveling. They were all interrogated about the whereabouts and the activities of Eduar. In August 2007, thanks to the desertion of a cadet from the Military School, José Maria Córdoba, in Bogotá, it was revealed that Captain NELSON GUTIÉRREZ MARIÑO had shown his students a phony video in which Eduar appeared. He urged the students to memorize his likeness as the image of a person who had to be eliminated as soon as possible. That same Captain used one of the cadets at the school to obtain Eduar’s documents regarding our Peace Community. The purpose was to have the students learn “how a guerrilla thinks”.
Up to now, the Colombian Government has refused to provide any explanation to the Inter-American Court for Human Rights about this plan for murder, and the investigation of the case, promised by the Ministry of Defense, follows the usual formula of considering that a full confession by the suspect would be the only definitive proof and, lacking that, the case is filed away. At the end of 2007, the paramilitaries living at the 17th Brigade sent a lot of messages to our Community, announcing that they were going to eliminate some of the leaders, and that Eduar was at the head of the list. On January 16, 2008, Eduar was arrested by some police officers in the town of San José de Apartadó, along with a member of our Internal Council. They were both subjected to illegal interrogations, forbidden by the Constitutional Court. When they mentioned the Court’s decision, Sentencia C-1024, the police indicated that the Constitutional Court meant nothing to them and that they would do whatever they wanted.
A few days later, a high official of the 17th Brigade told an international delegation that it had been a mistake to free Eduar on January 16 because he was “a guerrilla”. That same week, the paramilitaries living at the 17th Brigade told some residents of San José de Apartadó, in (the city of) Apartadó, that a valuable opportunity to kill Eduar had been missed, and that this had been a mistake by the police. On February 22, 2009, some armed men, who you could tell by a lot of details that they were connected with the Army, came looking for Eduar among the people attending the ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the massacre of February 21, 2005 in the hamlets of Mulatos, La Resbalosa, and Chontalito. They were asking insistently about how to leave the area.
There can be no doubt, then, that there is a long-time plan to kill Eduar, and that various institutions of the government and the para-government are part of it. In their logic of extermination and persecution of our Peace Community, this translates today into a need to destroy his political and ethical image as a supporter of a Community that refuses the use of weapons and insists on its right not to be involved with any armed actor. It’s no secret to anybody that the way to discredit this ethical and political position is to make it look as if it’s just a façade for a commitment to another armed actor. What is paradoxical is that, to do this, they have resorted to someone like alias “SAMIR’, with whom our Community and EDUAR himself have always been at odds and in opposition. To turn him into a “witness” to an allegation that the Community, and especially Eduar, were his “allies”, that they gave policy directions, and ended up making alias “SAMIR” submit to a trial for “betraying the revolution” defies all reason. There are no words to describe such a spurious and illogical contrivance.
The following are some of the specific falsehoods that stand out in this “interview”.
1. Around the middle of the interview that ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS had with alias “SAMIR” last May 28, he said that when the FARC sent him to the area of Mulatos, his superior, alias “Jacobo”, told him to coordinate policy with Eduar Lanchero, who was the legal representative of the Peace Community and had arrived in the area with the authorization of the FARC guerrilla leaders alias “Jacobo” and alias “Manteco”. Alias “Samir”: also said that Eduar was doing a good job with the “FARC’s strategic plan”, as he was a member of the Communist Party and a friend of the FARC, just as were the other members of what he referred to as the “Superior Council” of the Peace Community. Naming the members, he included “Sister Clara”, Gloria Cuartas, “Father Giraldo” “Negro Tuberquia” and “Conrado”. He insisted that the political plans of the FARC were 95% consistent with those of the Peace Community. He also said that when the FARC moved into the neighborhood of the town of Mulatos, the people of the Community went there to seek the FARC’s protection.
It is difficult to fit so many lies into so few words. Ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, in the interview, stimulates the answers of alias “SAMIR’ by his slanted and controlling questions, just as the deserter and the soldiers who must certainly have coached him during several months for such a filthy deception. Without a doubt, he violates the good faith of the audience, relying on the fact that the great majority of the radio listeners are not aware of the history of our Peace Community, nor of its members, nor of its leaders. The story told by alias “SAMIR” has no basis in reality: Eduar was never a Communist Party militant; he did not come to the region with the authorization of the commanders of the FARC. Rather, he was send by a religious and humanitarian organization that
supports displaced people. He has never been the “legal representative” of our Community. We have never referred to our Internal Council as the “Superior Council”, nor has Eduar ever been a member of it. Neither has Sister Clara, nor Father Giraldo, nor Dr. Gloria Cuartas. We know of no “FARC strategic plan” and none of our principles are consistent with those of the FARC. We have always refused to collaborate with any kind of armed actor. The farmers who returned to Mulatos did not go there to look for protection from the FARC. Rather, on the contrary, they had numerous conflicts with that armed organization.
2. Alias “SAMIR”, pressured by the evil-minded and controlling questions from ex- Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, goes even farther in his monstrous concoction of a false image of Eduar; he states that he met more than 20 times with him in meetings where Eduar provided revolutionary policy directions, and that when committees came to the area to check up, Eduar hastened to request that he pull his troops back so that the committees would not notice the relationship between the FARC and the Peace Community, since, if such a relation were seen, the Community could lose the important assistance that came from foreign countries.
He also said that our Community made false complaints to international organizations, claiming that the people killed in combat were civilian victims of government agents. Thanks to those complaints, which made the Community look like a victim of atrocities, numerous countries, among them Norway, United States, Sweden and Denmark, sent millions of dollars or euros worth of resources for the development of the area where the Peace Community is located. These resources, according to him, go into the pockets of the members of the “Superior Council” and that has made him lose confidence in the Peace Community and that is why he has broken with it and advises the farmers that they would be better off receiving aid from the government, since the Peace Community has not shown itself to be effective in economic development, given that the enormous resources that come from foreign countries are being stolen.
The audacity of this denunciation is unimaginably extreme. The few instances in which Eduar or any member of our Internal Council had any contact with alias “SAMIR” were extremely confrontational. They centered on pleading for respect for the lives of the peasant farmers and for the principles of our Peace Community. On the contrary, alias “SAMIR” complained furiously because the Community had expelled everybody who was suspected of being a member of the FARC. Not only that, our Community has never undertaken responsibility for the economic development of the region. The small projects that have benefited the community have had as their explicit goal the subsistence of community members and resistance of the displacement and the siege of hunger that we have been subjected to.
Sister communities of other countries have sent small resources for our survival. Most of the time, they themselves have coordinated the investments, such as the small classroom for the children, the small restaurant and the sewer system, the cacao processing equipment, the threshing machines and the sugar mills in the towns that are part of our Community, all of extremely modest dimensions. We have regularly sent reports to the donors and most of them have visited us and confirmed “in situ” the accomplishments of their modest assistance.
In this part of “SAMIR’s” defamations, he reveals, without intending to, their true origin. They coincide completely and exactly with the various false testimonies prepared in the 17th Brigade, almost with the same words as the vilification provided by retired General JAIME ERNESTO CANAL to the Second Commission of the House of Representatives on May 25, 2005, when he was trying to deny the evident participation of the Army in the horrendous massacre of leaders of our Community on February 21, 2005 in Mulatos and La Resbalosa. That General, supported by four false witnesses he had coached previously, made a speech astonishingly similar to the one made by alias “SAMIR”, where he presented our Community as allied with the FARC and beneficiaries of enormous resources provided by foreign countries, which resources we were stealing and passing on to the guerrillas. Evidently alias “SAMIR’ left out the last paragraph in order not to incriminate himself.
Ex-General CANAL distributed his monstrous calumnies on the program “In Contact” on TELEVISION CHANNEL ONE on June 6, 2005, with the cooperation of politicians JUAN HURTADO CANO AND MIGUEL POSADA and the presenter MARIA BEATRIZ ECHANDIA. All of the efforts we made to have Colombian “justice” require them to repair the moral damage resulting from their crime were useless, given the ethical collapse of that which in Colombia is usually called “justice”. Our complaints to international agencies about the atrocities we have suffered have not been falsified or distorted; we always furnish names, locations, times and circumstances of the crimes, so that an honest investigator would be able to prove them, and when we know the perpetrators were members of the FARC, we file complaints with the same precision. Contrary to the statement that Eduar requested alias “SAMIR” to remove his troops when international verification committees were coming to the area, most of these committees found squads of the FARC on the roads, sometimes not far from the Army troops.
3. Alias “SAMIR” mentioned more specifically, in the interview conducted by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, a meeting that took place in the town of La Balsita, in the municipality of Dabeiba, in December of 2005. But, in accord with his plan of trickery, he falsified all of the information. First of all, he describes it as if it was a meeting agreed-upon between the FARC commanders and the leaders of our Peace Community. The truth is that when three members of our Community left after a meeting with the farmers in Dabeiba, with whom we buy and sell agricultural products, they were overtaken by FARC fighters who forced them to appear before their commanders. They warned them that there would be repercussions if they refused. Alias “SAMIR” states that in that meeting he accused Eduar of stealing the money that was coming from foreign countries and of implementing a regime of cruelty toward the farmers. The truth is that absolutely nothing was mentioned about money problems or about the work of the farmers. The real complaint from alias “SAMIR” against our Peace Community, in that meeting, was because we had excluded from our Community anyone that we discovered had relations with the guerrillas. He said we were “paramilitaries”.
He even falsely accused one of the members of our Internal Council of wanting to capture a guerrilla man in order to leave his wife alone so the member could prey upon her. He complained, furiously, that the presence of our Peace Community was an obstacle to the presence of the guerrillas and he told us peremptorily that our Community would have to submit to the interests of the guerrillas. Threatening us, he reminded us of the massacre of October 1997 in which his company had massacred three of our leaders and he said that case could repeat itself.
In that meeting, alias “SAMIR” presented, as a “witness” against Eduar and the other members of our Internal Council, a resident of the town of La Unión who had been excluded from our Peace Community for repeated mistreatment of his wife. He took revenge by falsely accusing them of favoring “paramilitarism”. At the end of that “meeting”, which for alias “SAMIR” almost had the character of a “council of war”, he himself forbade us to enter the towns where we had not yet established groups for our Peace Community. He warned us in an imperative manner: “Either the Peace Community will serve the guerrillas, or we’ll finish it off.” Our members answered that we would continue to be faithful to our principles and that we would prefer to be finished off rather than to change them.
4. Later on in the interview with ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, alias “SAMIR” dared to state that he “infiltrated” our Peace Community at its very beginning, using an individual he did not name, but whose characteristics are unmistakable: he was alluding to ARTURO DAVID. Alias “SAMIR” relates that he had the privilege of serving as accountant for our Community and thus he always had first hand information about the funds that arrived and “got lost”.
Recently alias “SAMIR”, aided by the 17th Brigade and taking advantage of ex-Minister Londoño’s appetite for defamation, made up fables only believable by those who are not familiar with our history or our people. “Arturito”, as we called him affectionately, was not part of our Peace Community from its beginning. He arrived at the end of 1998, displaced with his family from Playa Larga, after the murder of his father by the barbarity of soldiers and paramilitaries. He stayed with some of his relatives in San José. Our Community took him in in solidarity and he joined groups working on fruit trees and with the radio project we had at that time. His human qualities gained him respect and in 2002 he was democratically elected a member of our Internal Council. He was asked to take charge of marketing the community’s cacao, a responsibility he took on with great integrity. Little by little, because he was the victim of threats and because of the painful experience of the continual increases in persecution by the government against our Community, during which he suffered a number of direct attacks by soldiers and paramilitaries on the shipments of cacao that he was taking to be sold in Medellin, he began to feel sympathy for the FARC and he began to draw nearer to them. He began to think that it would be easier to defend himself against the government’s atrocities. When he communicated those thoughts to us, we asked him to leave our Community because at this time his goals were incompatible with ours. He did that honorably in April of 2004, when he joined the FARC. He was murdered in 2008.
Our Community made his exit public in a communication that was widely distributed, in April of 2004, in order to avoid misunderstandings. When he was murdered (not killed in combat) by members of the Army, we held a wake over his body and he was buried in our Community, because his mother and other family members lived there. We believed that the government’s criticism of that revealed their extreme and inhumane way of thinking and feeling that we disavowed. The fact that he ended his days in the FARC did not give alias “SAMIR” the right to make up false stories about an impossible “infiltration”, a recourse that is a permanent part of the schemes hatched in the 17th Brigade, where they profane the dead in order to suit false stories and testimonies that the dead can no longer controvert, thus demonstrating once again their lack of elementary ethical principles.
With this same capacity for lies, alias “SAMIR” states that Eduar asked him and other FARC commanders to take Arturo far away from the Peace Community, a request that is just as false as the numerous “meetings” that alias “SAMIR” has invented to fake supposed coordination with our Community.
5. In other parts of his interview with ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, alias “SAMIR” states that Arturo got our Peace Community to buy a truck for 770 million pesos (about $385,000), using some of the money provided by international solidarity, and that the vehicle had “disappeared” due to the “corruption” of our leaders. Alias “SAMIR’s” capacity for lying is terrifying, even though, in the 12 years of the existence of our Community, we are familiar with the habits of defamation of the 17th Brigade, where so many and so evil judicial deceptions have been hatched. The truth is that the vehicles obtained by our Community in order to market our cacao and bananas were “second hand” vehicles purchased at very low cost. The Justice and Peace Commission gave us a ramshackle truck in 1997 and it wasn’t of very much use. We traded it in for another one in almost the same condition and it didn’t last very long either and we traded again for a jeep, also in very bad condition. We ended up using it for a small farm used by some displaced people from our Community, outside of Urabá.
In 1999 a cooperative agency gave us a better truck that cost 30 million pesos (about $15,000), but the paramilitaries hijacked it with its load of cacao and abandoned it in a neighborhood in Apartadó. After that, we were afraid to continue using it and we sold it for not very much money. We used the money for the needs of the farm used by the displaced people. Later, a religious community gave us a small truck that was also the object of attacks, threats and robbery by the paramilitaries, so we sold it in order to support an agricultural project that we were undertaking. Contrary to the fables about the enormous quantities of money that international agencies have supposedly donated to our Community, fables reinforced by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, matching those of ex-GENERAL CANAL in his widely circulated libels against us, we have to say that no powerful international agency has financed any projects for us. Part of the reason for that has been the pressure of the national government and of the agencies and banks that follow its orders. All the money we have received comes from communities and support groups or from small agencies, and for specific purposes, evaluated and controlled by the donors.
Neither have we ever tried to offer to the region development alternatives based on outside financing. Rather we have proposed to the people entering our Community voluntarily, a plan of survival based on their own efforts. That has helped us build a unified economy, without incentives for the acquisition of wealth, but always with the perspective of dignified and unified poverty.
The iniquitous persecution that we suffer from the government has reached the extreme of requesting the banks where we have our accounts to freeze them, alleging that we are “suspected of drug trafficking”. There was a protest by the Women in Black movement, in Spain, who, when they discovered this sham, started a campaign urging that people with ethical principles remove their funds from the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.
The Banco Ganadero de Apartadó (Ranchers Bank of Apartadó) is a branch of that bank and took part in that depravity. The women’s action got the attention of the bank and it apologized for the immorality. Entities like this act out of fear of loss of earnings and not because of ethics. Subsequently, we found our accounts and records are contained in various judicial files in this region and nationally, because every time the 17th Brigade comes up with a new scheme against our Community, they demand an “investigation of our sources of income”. 6. Alias “SAMIR” also attacks, in his answers induced by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, Dr. Gloria Cuartas, ex-Mayor of Apartadó. She has supported our Community all these years and he is trying to make the audience believe that she and all of her social and political efforts have only been a façade of the FARC. Just as at other points in the interview, alias “SAMIR” creates imaginary meetings and conversations that never took place and assumptions that fall apart in the face of any elementary analysis. He claims he met the ex-Mayor when she began her election campaign, in a supposed meeting in the town of Playa Larga, where he alleges that various FARC commanders attended and were pushing for her political program as one agreed-upon with the FARC. He concludes, dragged along in a vulgar manner by ex-Minister LONDOÑO, that she was “the Mayor of the FARC”.
Not only is it false that Dr. Gloria Cuartas attended that supposed meeting in Playa Larga, but, when she was Mayor, the FARC sent her a message strongly criticizing her government and programs. Everybody knows that Dr. Gloria Cuartas became Mayor of Apartadó as a representative of the “UNITY FOR PEACE” CONSENSUS, supported by 14 political groups representing the most diverse ideologies and positions. One of her most important supporters was the Bishop of Apartadó, Monseñor Isaias Duarte Cancino.
For that reason it is a disrespect of huge proportions, not just to her, but to all of the community leaders of the whole region, to call her the “Mayor of the FARC”. Calling her that undoubtedly originates with the government that has tried to eliminate every alternative social movement. They resort to the only pretext that might make their attacks appear to be legal. They make everyone who seeks legitimate alternatives of justice and equity into an “insurgent”.
The desperate desire of alias “SAMIR” to disparage the members and supporters of our Peace Community is such that, in order to attack Dr. Gloria Cuartas, he uses a public event where there were numerous witnesses. That fact allows us to measure directly his enormous capacity for lying, distorting, manipulating, and making up stories. Alias “SAMIR” says, in effect, that the event in which Mr. MIGUEL ANGEL LAYOS participated (February 28, 1997) took place in the context of a farmers’ meeting alias “SAMIR” had called in the town of San José, and that Dr. Gloria Cuartas was present.
He claims that an “unknown” group arrived at the meeting and murdered four people by garroting them. He says that one of them was Mr. Layos, and that the ex-Mayor had never said anything about what happened, not then and not in succeeding years, up until now.
All of that is false. The people of San José vividly remember what happened that day. It did not happen in connection with any meeting, least of all in the presence of guerrilla commanders. Nor was Dr. Gloria Cuartas present, and the group that arrived was not “unknown”. Rather, it was the paramilitaries who operated in the area, always in coordination with the Army, because at that time the Army surrounded the town of San José.
Furthermore, Dr. Cuartas has not kept silent. On the contrary, this was one of the worst incidents that caused her the most problems with the Army and with the judiciary, accomplices to the crime. She complained with great energy and bravery. In fact, when the soldiers and the paramilitaries committed the crime, they buried their victims in a common grave, on a farm located at the edge of the road between Apartadó and San José.
The widows and orphans went immediately to the Mayor’s office to file complaints about the crime and Dr. Cuartas demanded that the Attorney General’s staff carry out the legal procedures related to the bodies, but the prosecutors and the police refused to do it. So she went, along with the widows and the orphans, in a municipal truck, carrying shovels and plastic bags, to recover the bodies. Whey they found the grave, they began the exhumation, but their lack of experience, their nervousness and their pain resulted in cutting off the arm of one of the bodies with the first stroke of the shovel.
They stopped what they were doing and the Mayor returned to the Attorney General’s office and to the police, insisting that they carry out the exhumation. They finally gave in, after she threatened to file a complaint in Bogotá if they continued refusing to carry out their duties. But when they went to carry out the exhumation, they found a group of 50 paramilitaries surrounding the grave. The officials greeted them effusively, with soldiers and police treating the paramilitaries like “cousins”. Dr. Cuartas was so repelled by their arrogance in committing crimes in bright daylight and in the presence of so many people that she went back to Apartadó with the relatives to wait there for the bodies.
Their repeated complaints about these incidents, made to national and international agencies, earned them intense persecution and the murder of a number of the members of her office staff. What we see then, plainly revealed, is alias “SAMIR’s” enormous capacity for lying, aided and spurred on by the 17th Brigade and by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS.
7. The deserter Alias “SAMIR”, in his desire to please his military benefactors, aiding them in their long-time goal of exterminating our Peace Community, did not omit, in his prodigious collection of lies and libels, some that were dedicated to Fr. Javier Giraldo, the Jesuit priest who has supported our Peace Community system. Nevertheless, here is more of ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, attacking him in a virulent manner, relying entirely on poor and out-of-context words of alias “SAMIR”. LONDOÑO HOYOS states, at his own risk, that “Fr. Giraldo is the manager of all this”, i.e. what alias “SAMIR” has presented as characteristic actions of our Peace Community, being a façade for the FARC, dominated by a “Superior Council” that obtains enormous quantities of money from the international community and steals it, keeping the farmers in a condition of hunger and oppression and obtaining these aids thanks to lies inventing false crimes by the government.
It is curious that the only thing that alias “SAMIR” has to say about that is: “I have never had the opportunity to meet with Fr. Giraldo”, later adding, obliquely, that he must be a member of the FARC, just like all the leaders of the Community. Curiously, and certainly without intending it and perhaps due to his answers not having been carefully prepared in the Brigade, alias “SAMIR”, in stating that he had not met Fr. Giraldo, belies a series of “testimonies” fabricated by the 17th Brigade (those about the three brothers Cardona Borja, one by Elkin Tuberquia, one by Apolinar Guerra, and one by Luis Alberto Pino, even though, apparently, this last person only signed, without reading, the paper that the soldiers wrote for him). In their statements, they say that Fr. Giraldo meets constantly with “SAMIR” and brought him suitcases filled with millions of pesos. Once again, the capacity to lie, this time not just that of alias “SAMIR” but also that of the soldiers and of ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, is naked and more.
8. In the final segment of the interview granted to ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS, alias “SAMIR” accuses Eduar Lanchero once again of having planned his (SAMIR’s) trial by the highest chieftains of the FARC, alias “Jacobo” and alias “Manteco”. He says that in April of 2008 several leaders of our Peace Community, Eduar among them, had met in La Esperanza Canyon with commanders of Front 58 of the FARC. They claimed that alias “SAMIR” had betrayed the revolution, because he was he was urging the peasant farmers to cooperate with the government and especially with the City of Apartadó in its plans for the development of the region. The guerrillas of Front 58 had already conveyed such accusations to alias “Jacobo” and to alias “Manteco”, and they had summoned alias “SAMIR” in order to try him and put him to death, thus causing him to choose the path of desertion.
He said that he admitted that he had urged the peasant farmers to cooperate with the government’s development plans because, as he said, the government was bringing more development to the region than that proposed by our Peace Community. He said that was why 32 towns had left our Community, and that that had caused our leaders to press for his execution. He said they did this because they wanted revenge.
Once again alias “SAMIR” has invented meetings that never took place, such as the one supposedly in La Esperanza in April 2008, which only exists in his imagination. It is equally false that 32 towns have left the community. They were never with us and that statement alone reveals the total ignorance about our Peace Community. It has never consisted of territorial boundaries, but rather of free and voluntary personal affiliations.
That falsehood is even clearer when you look at how today, the centers of our
Community are the same as they always have always been. On the contrary, there are another three that are seeking to join us.
But the conflict that he describes, in which, according to him, he has “detached” a number of towns from our Community, by convincing them to support the government policies, since those policies really did provide true development, would be a nonexistent conflict, because our Peace Community is made up of people who enter voluntarily and accept basic principles. We have never proposed to “compete” with anyone, much less with government policies or strategies that are supported by criteria radically opposed to our own.
Those who enter our Peace Community voluntarily never come seeking riches nor forms of business development that are lucrative and competitive. One of our basic principles has always been the refusal of power that is built on weapons or on force. Alias “SAMIR” demonstrates a deep-rooted misunderstanding of our Community when he says that we keep farmers oppressed with exhausting labor because he is unaware that participation in our Community is voluntary. The work just demonstrates that the people are keeping to principles of human dignity shared by everyone. When he imagines that any of our leaders or members of our Internal Council could impel his trial by his superiors, which would end up with his execution, he fails to recognize the most essential of our principles and of our way of life. It is difficult to understand whether it is his deep-seated ignorance of who we are, or if it is one more lie brought about by the people who are manipulating him right now in their deceit factories of long standing, such as the 17th Brigade and ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS.
It is certainly not the first time that our Peace Community and its moral endowment are attacked in a vile manner, since even President Uribe has done it twice by means of libels that remain in absolute impunity, in spite of our tireless search for justice. This new attack reveals dramatically the impotence of Colombian citizens when we confront the current administration. It gives free rein to the big “information” media to destroy the honor of those who do not have money or power to pay for costly judicial proceedings, nor political influence over the big media at least to permit some line of defense. Any look at the columns written and radio programs conducted by ex-Minister LONDOÑO HOYOS produces perplexity for his capacity to lie and libel with impunity. It is extremely repugnant when we see that his program is titled “The Hour of Truth” and when the name that really fits its contents would be “The Hour of Lies”.
In the last few days, the radio stations in Urabá, which are unmistakably moving in the orbit of power and intimidation from the 17th Brigade, have made a real feast at the expense of our Community. They have repeatedly rebroadcast the interview with alias “SAMIR”. A Dutch citizen named LIDUINE ZUMPOLLE directs the foundation “Hands For Peace”, dedicated to convincing imprisoned FARC combatants that they ought to sign agreements and promises not to return to the insurgency and thus receive government benefits. This is an activity that, without denying its validity, has succeeded in establishing close relations with the sectors most closely allied with the opposite pole of the conflict, that is to say, with the military and people from the extreme right.
This woman sent a document to numerous international entities in which she assigns complete credibility to the lies and libels of alias “SAMIR” and adopts as her own the claims that the conspiracy makes about our Peace Community. She is inviting everybody not to be impressed by a community that is nothing more than a façade and part of the FARC. She invites the world to refrain from showing any kind of solidarity, whether economic, political or moral to the community.
This demonstrates the omnipotence that lies have gained in our society and the extreme weakness in which we find ourselves as victims of lies even to be heard. We are certain, nevertheless, that those who know us well and have shared our moments of suffering with us, and those who have incorruptible ethical principles and, because of those, can understand the ideological manipulations of the corrupt powers that rule us, will not be influenced by this new and nauseating conspiracy. In fact, this conspiracy itself will help us understand more profoundly the terrifying dimensions and the moral depravity to which those powers have arrived, including those of the media.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
June 9, 2009