San Jose de Apartado
San Jose de Apartadó is a small town in the northwest of Colombia, near the gulf of Uraba. Farmers settled there in the 1960s and 70s and since then the community has participated in cooperative agricultural and communal living. In March of 1997, the Community responded to the escalating violence and extrajudicial killings of community leaders by declaring themselves a Peace Community, with the support of the region's Catholic Bishop, and committing to:
translated by FOR staff
originally appeared in El Tiempo, 21 January 2010
Lawyers for the victims of the slaughter warned that the soldiers could be out of jail within the month.
To avoid this, first thing this morning the lawyers will ask the National Judicial Council to name a backlog judge* to expedite the trial, which has been suspended since December, due, according to the lawyers, to the delay tactics of the defense and the unexplainable loss of certain evidence.
Letter from the Field:
The View from San José
By Peter Cousins
At the end of May, the Peace Community at San José de Apartadó was subject to an unusual, two-fronted attack. On live national radio, the Community was accused of active collaboration with the FARC guerrilla insurgents, and of enslaving its members into a life of misery, with no option of leaving. Some Community leaders and loyal Colombian supporters were singled out for particular treatment, including Jesuit priest Javier Giraldo, former Apartadó mayor Gloria Cuartas, and – in particular – the academic Eduar Lanchero.
Letter from the Field, October 2007
By Amanda Jack, CPP team
"What kind of people would treat a house like this?" This was the simple question asked out loud by one of the women in the work group we had accompanied to Mulatos. The group of 17, mostly men and some women, had spent the last week making a home out of an abandoned and abused house in a far-flung corner of the district of San José de Apartadó. The land and house, belonging to a community member, is an eight-hour, muddy, and up-mountain walk from San Josecito. It is located in an area that stands out in the collective memory of the community as the site of massive displacement and murder in the violent '90s and as the site of the brutal massacre in February 2005. Nevertheless, careful planning and coordination had brought this group together, along with FOR's accompaniment, to a house that had clearly seen better days.
On September 11, 2007, the Peace Community was awarded the "Testimony di Pace" in Ovala, Italy. The annual prize rewards the efforts of groups or individuals who have contributed to enhance peace and non-violence. Just days earlier, the community also received the Aquisgran Peace Prize, given each year in Germany, on behalf of all Colombian peace communities.
These prizes, the Community says, give them strength as they continue to face violence from the armed groups active in the area. On the afternoon of August 31, 19-year-old campesino Alfonso de Jesús Bedoya left for work, and he was reported killed two days later.
Paramilitary gunmen killed Dairo Torres, a leader of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community, on Friday, July 13, shortly after 12 noon, according to the community. Torres was a passenger on one of the jeeps that serve as the only public transport between the city of Apartadó and San José, when it was intercepted by two paramilitaries - the same men who detained the jeep the previous day and made threats against the Peace Community. The community said that gunmen told Torres to get off the jeep, which he did; they told the driver to continue, and then they killed Torres on the spot.
The killing occurred only two minutes from a police checkpoint, where earlier in the day witnesses saw the gunmen sitting and conversing with police.
May 25, 2007 -- On May 13th, Francisco Puerta was gunned down by two paramilitary members in the city of ApartadÃ³. Three weeks ago, two paramilitary members reportedly went to the residence of one of Mr Puertaâ€™s close relatives in ApartadÃ³ asking of his whereabouts and making threatening remarks about him. Mr Puerta was in outlying Miramar district at the time. The two men loitered near the house for the rest of the day, leaving just before Puerta showed up that night.
Francisco Puerta was a former leader of the Miramar Humanitarian Zone, an initiative promoted by the Peace Community of San JosÃ© de ApartadÃ³ to build clearly marked places of refuge where civilians can take refuge from combat.
The massacre sparked international outrage and could jeopardize U.S. aid. Will security forces finally be brought to justice?
April 1, 2007, Chicago Tribune
By Gary Marx
LA UNION, Colombia â€” Two years ago, 17-year-old Bellanira Areiza and seven other peasants were hacked to death with machetes in the lush hills outside this picturesque hamlet in northwest Colombia.
Community leaders say five residents saw men in Colombian army uniforms take away the victims, and nine others later heard soldiers bragging about the killings. But, until now, the Colombian government's investigation into the massacre went nowhere.