PBI-Colombia has posted on Instagram:

“We will continue to seek development that respects life and rights” – Germán Graciano, Legal Representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.

Last June 5, we accompanied @sanjoapartado in a meeting with diplomatic body and government to follow up on their social and environmental justice processes.

On June 12, El Espectador reported in an article titled Apartadó Peace Community Denounces Paramilitaries Starting “Extermination Plan”:

This week, new threats against leaders of the population [of the Peace Community] located in the rural area of Urabá in Antioquia have once again set off alarms about the growing control in the area of the Clan del Golfo, which has also revived the paramilitary ghost that has plagued that area of the country.

It is paradoxical, and a symptom of recycling violence in that region, that these violent acts occur in the same week that a Florida court found the multinational Chiquita Brands guilty of financing paramilitary groups in Colombia, in the 90s, precisely in that part of Urabá.

Although the harassment against the residents began almost at the end of December, the highest peak of the conflict was evident a few months ago after the murder on March 19 of Nallely Sepúlveda and her brother-in-law Édinson David, 14, wife and brother of the humanitarian coordinator of that community.

A person close to the community, who for security reasons did not want to reveal his name, told Colombia+20 that, although there is a risk for several of the leaders of that population, in particular Germán Graciano, their legal representative, he is in the sights of the Clan del Golfo.

On its website, the Peace Community of San José has published two statements with the details of the violent events that have occurred between April and May. Among them are phone calls with death threats against Graciano, illegal retentions, theft of machinery, death of animals, alleged acts of espionage carried out by people who identify themselves as paramilitaries. Also, complaints of alleged illegal registrations and bad actions by the Prosecutor’s Office.

According to the inhabitants’ complaints, in mid-April a meeting was held by paramilitaries with leaders of community action boards in the township of San José de Apartadó. The community affirms that in that encounter a man who identified himself as Mateo said that the community would be exterminated.

For Graciano, some of the reasons for these events seem to be copied from what happened when the banana company Chiquita Brands was there. “Things have changed, but many not so much. The only thing the Community does is protect the territory and life in it, and that is why it wants to finish us off and kill us. That ruling uncovered that rotten pot of Urabá with the banana plantation, and you know that those businessmen are still there. This has some political and economic interests of this port of Antioquia. What we do here is exercise authority and autonomy in favor of our rights to our land, but that does not serve many people, the armed forces, some authorities, so they want to kill us,” he said.

The Clan del Golfo, which emerged after the demobilization of the paramilitary groups of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), is today one of the largest criminal groups in the country. In addition, it controls various illegal economies in several rural areas in several regions of the north of the country, including Urabá.”

The full article can be read at Comunidad de Paz de Apartadó denuncia que paramilitares empezaron “plan de exterminio” (El Espectador, June 12, 2024).

There is also this short video clip with PBI-Colombia accompanied José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) lawyer Sebastian Escobar.

For more on the Chiquita ruling, you can read US banana giant ordered to pay $38m to families of Colombian men killed by death squads (The Guardian, June 11, 2024).

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó since 1999.

Published by Brent Patterson on