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Home Facts Victims and Survivors Colombia San Jose Massacre Updates February 27 Update from San Jos&#233 Peace Community
February 27 Update from San Jos&#233 Peace Community PDF Print E-mail
Update from the Apartad? Peace Community:

Letter from Verification Commission of the Peace Community of San Jos? de Apartad? in the aftermath of the massacre on 21 February 2005 of eight people, including three children

San Jos? de Apartad?, 27 February 2005

Dear Friends,

This is the epilogue of a sad day. On Friday 25 February, towards midday, we found the evidence of the massacre: two communal graves with the mutilated bodies of ALFONSO BOLIVAR TUBERQUIA, SANDRA MILENA MU?OZ and their children NATALIA ANDREA TUBERQUIA of 4 years and SANTIAGO TUBERQUIA MU?OZ of 18 months. We also found in one of the graves the remains of ALEJANDRO PEREZ, 30 years of age, who lived with his partner and their child in La Resbalosa. Alejandro was not involved in the Peace Community or in the Humanitarian Zones of the district. They were all killed with machetes, their heads and extremities severed, a demonstration of the viciousness and incredible cruelty of their attackers.

According to a surviving witness, the army entered the house of ALFONSO TUBERQUIA shooting and one of the bullets injured his partner SANDRA MILENA. At this point ALEJANDRO PEREZ and another campesino were coming towards the house and were about 40 metres away.

Hearing the shots, they both started to run, but Alejandro hurt himself and fell and we don?t know what happened to him after that. Alfonso Tuberquia, for his part, and a labourer who was in his house managed to get out and start running away but Alfonso stopped when he heard his partner begging the army not to kill her children. Alfonso told his colleague that he would prefer to die with his family, that he couldn?t abandon them and he returned to the house.

The five bodies were taken away by the authorities who arrived by helicopter in La Resbalosa on the afternoon of 25 February. As soon as we arrived in Mulatos and La Resbalosa we were surrounded by the army, which, as we had been denouncing since Thursday 17 February, had been carrying out an operation throughout the zone. Since this date, the army has maintained a high troop presence in all the districts around San Jose.

In this context, it is important to understand the army-paramilitary strategy to clear villages and take control of the land. First come the indiscriminate bombings and then the operations in which they eliminate everything they come across: animals, crops, homes and, as the most recent events show, entire families, children of only four years old, babies of only 18 months, they all fall victim to an inhuman conflict and, what is worse, at the hands of the forces of the very Colombian state that has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens.

But there is no doubt that the strategy is working: just two weeks ago we pointed out that as a result of these operations in Mulatos and Resbalosa, only 10 families remained, and now 9 of them have been displaced to San Jose. We are also concerned that three families of the village of Las Nieves remain disappeared.

However, our terrible discoveries did not stop with the communal graves. Towards nightfall, we ourselves were forced to go and look for the bodies of Luis Eduardo Guerra, leader of the community, and his family. We found them next to the river Mulatos, thrown down next to a footpath. They had no gunshot wounds, but they had been beaten badly and their throats had been cut. Luis Eduardo, Bellamira and Deiner, 11 years. Their bodies were still there at midday on Saturday 26 because the authorities took the bodies from the graves first and promised to return first thing. They didn?t arrive. Part of the commission stayed waiting for them to keep their promise so that we could bury our friends. Today, finally their bodies were taken.

Through this tragedy, we can see that the state terror strategy is not ending. The soldiers who maintain a heavy presence of all our districts have said to a number of families in the zone that it is a shame that people found out what had happened so soon, because otherwise there would be more dead. And the troops who were around us all the time commented that: ?this smells of pure dead guerrilla?, referring to the eight people killed. Although the army commander promised that photographs and videos would not be taken, they did it anyway. The soldiers provoked our commission all the time,accusing us of being guerrillas; they even addressed questions to us using our actual names.

The media have tried to distort the reality of the situation, by suggesting that the massacre was perpetrated by the guerrillas, while other versions accuse the paramilitaries. But for us it is clear and witnesses confirm it, that this was an operation carried out by the army who sealed off the zone before the massacre (since 17 February) and who are still present in all the districts in the area.

The media have also said that Luis Eduardo was involved in the explosion of a bomb in August last year. The truth is quite the opposite: Luis Eduardo?s family and others were victims of a grenade left by the army which exploded and left Luis Eduardo?s son Diener seriously hurt. He almost lost one of his legs as a result of the explosion.

It isn?t unusual that they are trying to hide the truth about what happened. However, the weight of the evidence, the military presence in the zone before, during and after the massacre point clearly to the Colombian army as being responsible for this latest attack on the civilian population. We are facing a new humanitarian crisis in the zone and the death of our friends and of Luis Eduardo, leader of the community, is a sure signal. We know that the whole strategy of terror and impunity is going to continue. Soldiers have threatened a number of families and warned them that if they don?t leave, the same thing is going to happen to them. They are also looking for the surviving witnesses of the massacre who are terrified at the danger their lives are in.

The facts are overwhelming: we have suffered 152 assassinations, and not a single person has been brought to justice. Yet the Colombian justice system has gathered hundreds of testimonies identifying those responsible. In spite of that, impunity reigns and will continue to do so because it is necessary to protect the assassins. We are calling on national and international solidarity to demand an end to the strategy of state terror that has been enacted against the Peace Community of San Jose and the Humanitarian Zones that are developing in the surrounding districts. We ask you to demand respect for our communities.

This time there were eight dead, innocent civilians, entire families, children, who fell victim to terror. On 28 February we hope to have a collective burial in the San Jose cemetery. But the ideas of Luis Eduardo, his thoughts and his arguments will continue inside us and with more strength than ever. He believed the civilian population had the right to live with dignity. We also believe this and will carry on defending this principal even if it costs us our lives.

Send messages to:

Presidencia de la Republica
Dr Alvaro Uribe Velez
Cra 8 No 7-26
Palacio de Narino
Santa Fe de Bogota
Fax: (+57 1) 566 20 71
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Vicepresidencia de la Republica
Dr Francisco Santos
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ministro de Protecci?n Social
Dr Diego Palacio Betancourt
Cra 13 No 32-76
Piso 22 Bogota DC
Fax: (+57 1) 336 0182
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Procuraduria General
Dr Edgardo Jose Maya Villazon
Cra 5 No 15-80
Santa Fe de Bogota
Fax: (+57 1) 342 97 23
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Defensoria del Pueblo
Dr Volmar Antonio Perez Ortiz
Calle 55 No 10-32
Fax: (+57 1) 640 04 91
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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