In February, eight civilians, including community leader Luis Eduardo Guerra and three children, were massacred in the Colombian Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. Witnesses identified the killers as members of the Colombian military, and peace community members saw the army’s 17th and 11th Brigades in the area around the time of the murders. SOA Watch, the group that monitors the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (now officially the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), reports that the commander of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian army received training at the SOA. Gen. Héctor Jaime Fandiño Rincón attended the “Small-Unit Infantry Tactics” course in 1976. In December of 2004 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
Since the massacre, the Colombian administration of Alvaro Uribe has done little to investigate the murders. No investigation into the military or the 17th or 11th Brigade has begun. All the focus now of the government agencies intervening in the situation is to force the community members to testify at risk of their lives. Police forces have flooded San José against the wishes of the Peace Community, which has taken a fundamental stance against all armed actors. Since the massacre, all but five of the 100 families that formed the Peace Community have been forced to leave their homes and land.
See also our report on the massacre, and our last blog post on ongoing state terror in Colombia.