The Administrative Tribunal of Colombia’s Antioquia department on Feb. 8 ordered the national army to hold a public ceremony officially apologizing for the massacre at San José de Apartadó Peace Community, almost exactly eight years after it was carried out. In the Feb. 21, 2005 attack, six adults and two children were killed at the village in Apartadó municipality of Antioquia’s northern Urabá region, where residents had declared their non-cooperation with all armed actors in Colombia’s civil conflict.
Demobilized paramilitary fighters have named in testimony four of their confederates, who went by the aliases Águila 6, Cobra, Cuatro Cuatro and Makeison, as responsible for the massacre. The army argued that it bore no responsibility, as the massacre was carried out by an illegal armed group. But Apartadó municipal authorities agreed with charges of the San José villagers that the army allowed the paras to operate in the zone with impunity. The public prosecutor’s office, the Procuraduría, also stated that there was “flagrant responsibility by the State for the extrajudicial execution of these persons.” (El Colombiano, Feb. 8)
The US-based pacifist group Fellowship of Reconciliation is calling for pressure on Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, urging him to order the armed forces to comply with the ruling. “We all look forward to a public event that honors this recent ruling, helps restore the good name of the peace community and ensures its protection in the coming years,” FOR said, calling the ruling “the first real move toward real reconciliation.” (FOR blog, Feb. 21)
Meanwhile, the community continues to suffer paramilitary harassment. On Feb. 21—the anniversary of the massacre—community leaders issued a public protest reporting that some 50 presumed members of the Gaitanistas paramilitary group had occupied the vereda (hamlet) of Miramar, illegally detaining and maltreating a campesino there for 12 hours. (Radio Caracol, Feb. 21)