“Ranchers and Commanders of the National Army, meet to define repressive strategies against peasant farmers”

The paramilitary-military presence increases in large regions of the country, producing an evident increase in human rights violations, terror and insecurity in the population. There is a continuing pattern of carrying out covert and psychological operations by the security forces. These serious actions constitute human rights violations. What happens today in Cesar, is just one example.

The paramilitary presence has increased in the Center and South of the Department of Cesar, and is increasingly notorious. Every 15 days,three black Toyota Hilux 4 × 4 and four motorcycles with about 15 people carrying long and short weapons enter in the municipality of Chiriguaná, and spread themselves throughout the town. Each motorcycle accompanies one of the trucks and travels through the streets of the municipality, in full view of everyone, including the security forces.

In addition to the fear that is caused to the population in general, threats are directed against those who are part of popular organizations. Spokespersons of the Movement of workers, peasants and communities of Cesar – MTCC have been intimidated directly. On January 4, 2018, the farmer YAMIT DÍAZ received a call from a person who introduced himself as alias “CAMILO” of the Clan del Golfo indicating that he was acting on the orders of Commander OTONIEL and that he was waiting for him at a meeting to be held in the municipality of Pailitas – Cesar.The villager replied that he could not attend and was required to deposit the sum of 10 million pesos in the name of “DEISY CERVANTE ANAYA” in Necoclí – Antioquía.

These acts were denounced before the local human rights adviser (personeria) and the GAULA of the Pelaya municipality police proceeded to intercept YAMIT’s personal telephone. Shortly after the farmer received a new call from alias “CAMILO” who told him: “You know, do not worry about selling your goods, worry about caring for your wife and children, you know we are present in Pelaya, Pailitas, Curumaní and Aguachica” then immediately ending the communication. This situation has generated fear and anxiety in YAMIT and his family, because their lives are in danger.

The farmer ESAÚ SEPULVEDA has suffered a similar danger. On January 4, 2018, he was cited for the alleged disturbance to the possession of the Morrocoya farm by OLIVER, an administrator of the farm located in the village of Carrizal in the municipality of Pelaya – Cesar.  Esau  claims that he carries out this type of work and told him that he was not a worker of the Mayor’s Office or of the Police and couldn’t do this. Three hours later, two text messages were sent to his personal telephone number making false accusations and threatening him with death. These acts were also reported to the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office.

On January 17, 2018, in the urban area of Pelaya – Cesar, two unknown individuals travelling in a black Daewoo stopped the vehicle in which Neftali (brother of Esau) was travelling, indicating that they had an arrest warrant for him. They asked for his identity card and proceeded to review it, observing the document and, upon confirming that it was not ESAÚ, proceeded to withdraw without a word. The men did not wear badges of judicial police or CTI, which in itself is cause for concern, and is further compounded by possible criminal investigations or risk against his life. It was possible to confirm before the Prosecutor’s Office that there is no legal investigation or case against Esau Sepulveda.

On the other hand, it is known that on January 10, 2018, members of the Army (headed by Colonel Martinez) held a meeting with the Cattlemen’s Committee of the Municipality of Pelaya – Cesar. During the meeting, there were accusations against the municipal representative ENER HERNÁNDEZ VERGEL and against peasant farming communities that are in the process of recovering land, describing them to be members of the National Liberation Army – ELN. In particular, it was agreed to denounce the official and he was doubted for being supposedly permissive in the face of processes of defence of the territory. This fact is also concerning if one takes into account the increase in paramilitary presence in the area.Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of military forces, among other units, through the presence of the Energy and Road Battalion – BAEV 3, which has been the subject of multiple complaints of  initiating baseless investigations against settlers of the region who have dared to denounce and resist against dispossession.

On January 22, 2018 pamphlets were distributed in the village of San Roque of the Municipality of Curumaní – Cesar, in which the group called “armed democratic command” headed by alias “JOSE” threatened the community with the so-called “cleansing” “and declared various sectors of the population as military objectives.

As is known by the authorities, prosecutors and security forces, this is not the only pamphlet that has appeared in the region. In many others that circulate freely and in full view of all, the self-styled paramilitaries “Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces” have threatened human rights defenders and social leaders.

The longing for peace in society has been converted into a smokescreen that has led us down a path of serious setbacks in many aspects, including understanding of the reality of the country. Paramilitarism seems to be understood today as a strategy in which the State does not participate or in which it only participates with its permissiveness, or because it does not prevent it. The same happens in the face of genocidal practices such as murder, persecution, exclusion, and permanent threats against the social movement. But the reality is different. Those who hold political, economic and military power in Colombia advance their projects without any consideration of the cost to the rest of humanity.

January 25, 2018