"Complaints have been persistent, warning about the increased presence of paramilitaries in the majority of municipalities in the south of Bolivar. More than forty murders, massacres, and forced displacements in the municipalities and outlying areas of Tiquisio and Montecristo, hamlets of Malena, centre Quebrada, Tagual, Pinch, Tenche and other nearby cities have been brought to the attention of the national and departmental (state) governments. Local communities have mobilized to demand the protection of the national government. The government has done nothing to prevent these things."
Graffiti appears in mining area
The undersigned organizations wish to denounce before the national and international community the serious events that continue to occur against communities in Southern Bolívar. The Colombian government has yet to take strong action to end this paramilitary incursion.
On September 15, 2011, inhabitants of the township of Mina Caribe, Morales woke up to discover graffiti on their school saying, "Out you informants, we do not want here!” The graffiti was signed with the letters AUC [The acronym for the supposedly demobilized United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia]. The local people also testified they saw military boot prints around the school.
Likewise, reports received from the communities show that since 15 September 2011, on the road leading from the townships of Mina Caribe to San Luquitas, a group of armed men have been observed who have no identification to indicate to which organization they belong. Private and public transportation has been suspended due to fear of the armed men in the territory.
We have been warned of the risk to the lives of several agricultural and [artisanal] mining leaders of southern Bolivar, especially the treasurer of the Agro-mining Federation, Mr. Miguel Anaya Hoyos. There are rumours being intentionally spread in the local population indicating that Miguel Anaya is to be killed.
In the mining area there is a strong military presence, consisting of several military units, such as the Batallón de Selva No. 48 which has a base located a fifteen minute walk from the village of San Pedro Frio, and which permanently patrols the whole area, including the townships of San Luquitas and Mina Caribe. They are also known to patrol with demobilized [paramilitaries] and masked armed personnel.
RECENT CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND
On 17 August 2011, dozens of heavily armed men in uniform who identified themselves as the Black Eagle paramilitary group, entered Casa de Zinc, a rural area of Monte Cristo, where they detained, tortured and killed three people and left a fourth person wounded. The Mechanized Infantry Battalion No. 4 General Antonio Nariño, assigned to the Second Brigade of the Army, based in Malambo, Atlantic Department, was nearby the site when these events took place.
During the massacre, the paramilitaries threatened to retake control of south Bolivar and commit crimes in other towns and hamlets.
The situation is alarming, because so far in 2011, more than forty murders have been committed; threats against and harassment of community organizations and their leaders have also increased. Paramilitary presence is increasing in important sectors where these armed men openly exercise military, economic, and social control.
The activities of insurgents [guerrillas] in the region are further aggravating the situation of the communities. On 28 August 2011, there was a loud explosion in the township of San Pedro Frio, part of Santa Rosa del Sur township, along the path that leads to the village from Mina Chelín. Although there were no victims, a house was slightly damaged. The FARC claimed responsibility, announcing that this explosion was the first in a series of terrible events to come.
Bulldozers continue their devastating pace, causing serious and irreversible environmental, economic and social damage that is slowly destroying the territory. [This description refers to illegal mining done with heavy machinery.]
Faced with this serious situation, between 1 and 9 of September, residents of the Southern Bolivar Department held protest actions in the town of Arenal to demand that the national government immediately convene the Southern Bolivar Roundtable for Dialogue. Representatives of the national government, who promised to come, were expected, but once again, they failed to arrive. The people gathered to meet with them were the victims of harassment by police, army, and paramilitaries.
For the reasons outlined above we demand that the national government
- Immediately convene the Southern Bolivar Roundtable for Dialogue.
- Stop and prevent paramilitary advances in the Southern Bolivar region
- Protect the lives and physical integrity of the people of Southern Bolivar.
- Immediately comply with the Precautionary Measures granted by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission on behalf of the leaders and members of the Southern Bolivar Agricultural-Mining Federation.
- Investigate any and all public officials and members of the Armed Forces who, because of their actions and inaction, have allowed paramilitary groups to enter the region and continue to commit crimes against the local population.
Signed:FEDERACIÓN AGROMINERA DEL SUR DE BOLÍVAR – FEDEAGROMISBOL COMISIÓN DE INTERLOCUCIÓN DEL SUR DE BOLÍVAR CORPORACIÓN SEMBRAR ASOCIACIÓN NOMADESC COORCOORDINADOR NACIONAL AGRARIO – CNA RED DE HERMANDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD – COLOMBIA CAMPAÑA NACIONAL E INTERNACIONAL CONTRA EL DESPOJO
To write a letter to the Colombian autorities, the PASC invite you to use the folowing form.