January 15, 2009
Hon. Russ Feingold
We in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó are aware of your commitment to the defense of life, especially for the communities that have been victim of terrorist actions that have attempted to exterminate them. Our community has been the victim of actions by paramilitaries who, working with Chiquita, carried out atrocities against our decision to be a peace community of nonviolent resistance.
Our process as a community is based essentially on neutrality toward all the armed actors and we have been victimized by all of them; by the Army and the Police, acting in concert with the paramilitaries, and also by murders committed by the guerrillas of the FARC. There have been more than 170 killings committed against our community in these twelve years, and more than 650 violations of human rights.
During the time that our community has walked along this path, the deadly actions have been of every type: murders, massacres, “disappearances”, blockades of our food supply, robbery of our produce, threats, phony legal charges, slanders, set-ups, burning of our homes and crops, sexual assaults, displacement, and every kind of deadly action intended to exterminate us, because for those who spread death, anyone who chooses an option other than war, or anyone who is not with any of them, has to be annihilated.
All along this path, since 1997, those who actually fired the shots and carried out the killings were not the only ones involved. Those who planned and financed the murders are also responsible. There has been a plan to exterminate us and to impose an order of silence and death in our area of Urabá (located in the northwestern part of Colombia).
A logic of paramilitary terror has been established in Urabá, bleeding the area dry. This has allowed paramilitarism to control people’s daily lives in Urabá. All of this has happened thanks to the actions of the Army and the Police and of the other branches of the government, such as the Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office. Impunity has allowed these murderers to walk free.
The paramilitaries established themselves in Urabá in order to exterminate and destroy the communities, and then taking over the land that the murdered or displaced farmers left behind. That way they have the land for mega-projects like the ones being started now with African palm, yucca, bananas, dams and coal mines.
Unfortunately, the Government has not acted alone. Rather, many industrial banana growers and merchants in Urabá have eagerly sponsored these deadly activities. A principal sponsor has been Chiquita, a multinational that carried out acts of extermination through paramilitaries, paying them and lending them the use of their docks to import weapons that have caused a lot of pain to our people. The terror spread in the area has left innumerable orphans, widows, and deserted farms.
They have tried to annihilate our community because we have opposed this logic of death, because we will keep our land, we will not sell it, and we will not be displaced. Throughout these years, many people have walked in solidarity with us, giving hope for our system and to all who have chosen this way of life. Among those are people from the state of Wisconsin in general and especially those from Dane County. They have walked along with the Colombia Support Network (CSN) and our community every day, since 1988. They have helped us to see the light of a new day. They have been with us in our joys, our sorrows, our hopes, our tears, and our laughter. They have been feeding that flame of hope in our daily lives, so that those who spread terror do not extinguish it.
For that reason, we think it is important to be able to share these notes. We know that you are also a supporter of our community and others in Colombia that have chosen the path of life that says no to war and yes to justice, no to impunity and yes to memory and to building from peace and solidarity. We are writing to you because we think that the voice of the victims ought also to be present at the soon-to-be-held hearing on the Attorney General.
We thank you very much for your attention and we hope that some day you will be able to meet with us in our community.
© 2005 CSN