COLOMBIA: PARAS, ARMY STILL KILLING PEASANTS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas


Recent headlines from Colombia tell of imprisoned paramilitary warlords, politicians forced to step down for their links to the paramilitariesā€”and an unprecedented legal victory, with Chiquita Bananas fined $25 million for underwriting the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a State Department-designated “foreign terrorist organization.” However, the impression created by these stories that the paramilitary terror is a thing of the past is a false one. On the ground in Colombia’s rural war zones, terror grinds on nearly unabated. The AUC seems to have fractured into a new generation of paramilitary outfits, such as the Black Eagles, who have carried out atrocities nearly throughout the country. As before, evidence points to close paramilitary collaboration with the official armed forces. As before, the Colombian army itself also continues to be implicated in assassinations and torture of campesinos and civil leaders. And as before, the targets are often not guerilla collaborators, but leaders of nonviolent civil initiatives such as the San Josecito Peace Community, which assert the right of campesinos to neutrality and non-involvement in the civil war. This overview of recent attacks is provided by Weekly News Update on the Americas.

On the afternoon of July 13, two men who the previous day had identified themselves as members of the Black Eagles paramilitary organization stopped a public bus, forced community leader Dairo Torres out of the vehicle, and shot and killed him in a place very close to a police checkpoint on the road between the towns of Apartado and San Jose in Antioquia department, in northern Colombia. Torres had been involved in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado since 2004; at the time of his death he was coordinator of the Alto Bonito humanitarian zone, located about a four hour walk from the San Josecito Peace Community. The two paramilitaries who killed him had been seen earlier in the day sitting next to the police at the nearby checkpoint, talking to them. The previous day, July 12, the same two paramilitaries had threatened members of the Peace Community. (Colombia Support Network, July 14; Comunidad de Paz de San Jose de Apartado, July 14)

On July 14, two hooded individuals shot to death Mario Sereno Toscana, a member of the El Palmar Association, and fled after stealing a watch and chain from him. While the attack had the appearance of a common crime, Sereno is the second member of the El Palmar Association to be murdered recently. The association was formed by campesinos reclaiming land in the south of Bolivar department, an area controlled by paramilitaries working in the service of large landholders. (Agencia Prensa Rural, July 15)

On July 16 in Norte de Santander department, campesino Luis Carlos Angarita Rincon was returning from San Pablo, Teorama municipality, where he had gone to carry out a market transaction, to his farm in Aguachica, Puente Real, San Calixto. At an army checkpoint along the road between San Pablo and Bijagual he was apparently detained and tortured to death the next morning by soldiers from the Mobile Brigade No. 15. Angarita, 25 years old, was the father of a two-year-old son and a 10-month-old baby, and also supported his parents and three sisters with disabilities. The family learned of his death when they heard on Radio Catatumbo that his body was in the morgue in Ocana. The radio reported that Angarita was a “member of the Resistencia Bari mobile column of the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], killed in combat by the Mobile Brigade No. 15.” An autopsy showed Angarita had no bullet wounds; he appeared to have bled to death. The skin and some of the flesh had been pulled off his arms and buttocks, and his body showed signs of heavy blows in the face and chest. The army now denies any knowledge of the circumstances of Angarita’s death. The community held a silent march on July 20 in San Pablo to demand justice for Angarita and reject the militarization of the zone. (Agencia Prensa Rural, July 20)

On July 17, soldiers from the army’s Mobile Brigade No. 12 set up a checkpoint on the road between the village of El Tigre and the community La Cooperativa, in Vista Hermosa municipality, Meta department. At the checkpoint they stopped a pickup truck driven by Ramiro Romero Bonilla, accompanied by Arnulfo Guerra. The soldiers detained the two campesinos and forced them to board a military helicopter. Three days later there had still been no news of the whereabouts of the two men. (Notimundo, July 20 via Agencia Prensa Rural)

On July 17, two members of the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) abducted 50-year old Pedro Nel Canole Polo as he was cutting wood on his farm in the community of Santo Domingo, Cantagallo municipality, also in the south of Bolivar. Canole had been a resident of the area for over 20 years. An hour after his abduction, his body was found at El Perillo, on the road linking Santo Domingo to Puerto Matilde. (Asociacion Campesina del Valle del Rio Cimitarra, July 19 via Agencia Prensa Rural)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 3

Early on Aug. 23, a group of Colombian soldiers arrived at the home of campesino Ruben Dario Luna Triana on the Las Delicias farm in the rural community of San Pablo in Chaparral municipality, Tolima department. The soldiers forced Luna out onto his front yard and tortured him in front of his wife and children before cutting his chest and stomach open with a knife. The soldiers then delivered a “coup de grace” pistol shot to Luna’s head and reported him as a “guerrilla killed in combat.” The soldiers were accompanied by Nilson Medina Cometa, a man known in the region for his criminal conduct and now working as an informant for the army’s Jose Domingo Caicedo Battalion.

The community believes the crime is part of a plan by the army to murder campesinos and present them as guerrillas killed in combat, in response to pressure from President Alvaro Uribe Velez and the military high command to show results in the counterinsurgency war.

Luna was the fourth campesino from the region to be murdered in just over a month, and the ninth in less than a year. Camilo Aviles Morales and Jesus Maria Riano were murdered on July 19 in the Espiritu Santo community of Chaparral; and Isaul Buitrago was murdered on Aug. 7 in the community of Gaitan in neighboring Rioblanco. Four more campesinos were killed in Rioblanco in November 2006: Miguel Ipus Medina was killed on Nov. 20 in the La Pradera community; and Heremildo Valero Bedoya, Virginia Hernandez Valero and Abelino Rada Vargas were murdered on Nov. 29 in the Maracaibo community. Another campesino, Harsai Yate Urbano was murdered on May 20, 2007, between the communities of La Cristalina and El Cambrin in Rioblanco. (Adital, Sept. 30 from Prensa Rural)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 30

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Weekly News Update on the Americas
http://home.earthlink.net/~nicadlw/wnuhome.html

See also:

COLOMBIA’S PARAMILITARY PARADOX
Far-Right Militias Survive “Peace Process” and “Para-Politics” Scandal
by Memo Montevino, WW4 REPORT, August 2007
/node/4286

COLOMBIA: “DEMOBILIZED” PARAS TERRORIZE PEASANTS
from Weekly News Update on the Americas
WW4 REPORT, August 2007
/node/4287

From our weblog:

Colombia holds drug lords in floating prisons
WW4 REPORT, Sept. 19, 2007
/node/4450

Chiquita fined $25 million in Colombia terror case
WW4 REPORT, Sept. 19, 2007
/node/4449

Colombia: paras kill more in ChocĆ³
WW4 REPORT, Sept. 6, 2007
/node/4391#comment-306971

Colombia: another killing at San Josecito Peace Community
WW4 REPORT, July 15, 2007
/node/4224

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Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Oct. 1, 2007
Reprinting permissible with attribution