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Home News Organizing Updates San Jose de Apartado Peace Community
San Jose de Apartado Peace Community PDF Print E-mail
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San Jose de Apartado is a small town in the region of Uraba marked by decades of violence. In 1997, people living in the areas surrounding San Jose developed the idea of creating a neutral zone in which the civilian population would be respected. On March 23, 1997, they declared themselves the ?Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado,? with the hope that all armed actors in the region would respect the declaration and that no one would have to abandon their land.

That very week, army troops and paramilitaries targeted rural communities surrounding San Jose, assassinating several people, entering into combat with guerrilla forces and heavily bombing the area. Many were forced to flee the area under threat of continued violence and targeting. Many, however, made the decision.

Luis Eduardo was among the founders of this Peace Community.
Many, however, made the difficult decision to stay. During this time, those who stayed developed another alternative: if armed actors did not let the Peace Community develop its initiative in the surrounding rural communities, they would begin to struggle from San Jose and organize themselves into a ?true Peace Community.? As the community writes, ?That is how our struggle began for an alternative in the midst of a war against the civilian population.?

They continue:

?It has not been an easy process, At first, the government did not recognize us as forcibly displaced persons and, for this reason, we did not have access to food nor health care nor education. Moreover, we were controlled by the paramilitary checkpoint that existed for nine months on the only route that lead from Apartado to San Jose, and at which army soldiers were frequently seen together with the paramilitaries. At this paramilitary checkpoint, occassionally set up just one kilometer away from a military base, more than 30 peasants were assassinated. We continuously received threats from the army, who accused us of being a community nest of guerrilleros, and the only presence of the State was the militarization of the village.
The guerrilla, on the other hand, targeted the community for its decision to not sell them food nor collaborate with them in any way. This cost the lives of several community leaders, including Ramiro Correa, member of the community's Internal Council, who the FARC guerrilla assassinated on October 6, 1997. These are clear violations of International Humanitarian Law that guarantees protection for the persons who do not participate in the hostilities.?


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