Our readers are aware that the leaders of the San José de Apartado Peace Community in Colombia have been forced to take refuge in a camp they have dubbed San Josecito (Little San José) since their village was occupied by the army following a massacre of Peace Community leaders in February. More leaders have been assassinated since then. Now come threats of yet another massacre. This urgent Dec. 15 alert from the Peace Community comes to us via the Colombian independent human rights network Red de Defensores:
At 9 AM on Dec. 14, at the bus terminal [in Apartado, the municipal seat], an inhabitant of Buenos Aires [one of the hamlets of the Peace Community] was approached by a paramilitary, who said: “I want to warn you…to get your family out of San Josesito by the end of the year, because we are planning to carry out a new massacre, it will be between the 24th and the 31st or thereabouts, we are negotiating with the police and the army so that they will not be mobilized and we can enter and leave freely, carry out the massacre rapidly…”
At 3 PM on Dec. 12 [well-know local paramilitary leaders] Wilmar Durango and Apolinar Guerra were seen speaking with a member of the National Police in the bus terminal, just before he approached a car bound for San José and told the passengers, “take it easy, your hour has almost arrived” (“tranquilos que ya casi les llega la hora”). Wilmar Durango has previously been implicated in deadly attacks on San José’s hamlets, including that at Yorbelis (Oct. 2, 2004). Apolinar Guerra has been implicated in the torture of San José inhabitants in joint operations with the army.
We are asking for national and international solidarity to assure that this announced massacre is not carried out; whenever we are threatened, the deadly actions are later carried out, as was the case in the massacre of eight persons in February and the death of Arlen Rodrigo Salas in November. The audacity of the paramilitaries and their cooperation with the public security forces is total… Despite our fear we continue working in solidarity and community, and we do not retreat from our principles of neutrality before any armed actor. We are grateful for the national and international support which can end these actions of death against our process.