Colombian Paramilitary Groups Fight to Take Over Lands Left by FARC

In Catatumbo, campesino organizations have blocked the demobilization of FARC-EP units in Caño Indio, arguing that they would be left unprotected.

Various illegal armed groups have started to fill the void left in rural areas by the recent demobilization of the FARC-EP rebels, as a result of the peace accord, warned a report Saturday.

With areas being abandoned by the guerrilla fighters in recent weeks, various voices have warned against a surge of paramilitary groups, reported Colombian outlet Semana.

A bishop in the town of Apartado, in Antioquia province, warned authorities about a paramilitary presence in the Uraba and Choco provinces — at least 300 fighters from the Gaitanistas Self-Defense Unit of Colombia — gathering around the basin of Cacarica River, reported local communities.

In Catatumbo, campesino organizations have blocked the demobilization of FARC-EP units in Caño Indio, arguing that they would be left unprotected, while paramilitary groups began gathering nearby.

Colombia’s second guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, currently negotiating a peace accord with the Colombian government in Ecuador, said they were considering temporarily filling the void left by the FARC-EP due to popular demand.

The FARC-EP units have left about 240 towns and joined 26 concentration zones under the watch of a multinational commission. The Colombian military has moved into some territories in Tolima and Huila, although areas with illegal mining and coca crops have proven to be more difficult to take over, according to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation.

Criminal narco-terrorist groups with ties to the paramilitaries have successfully infiltrated public authorities thanks to corruption, according to the foundation.

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419 Human Rights violations to social movements in the last five months

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This week, the social and political organization “Marcha Patriótica”(hereinafter MP) released its most recent report on Human Rights violations in Colombia, especially against its members and other social leaders. The diagnosis was clear: along with a reduction in deaths in the context of the armed conflict, there was an “exponential” increase in civilian casualties due to their socio-political activities.

The analysis, which covers the time period that ranges from ugust 2016 to January 29, 2017, pointed out that the increase in violence against social leaders and political activists “is directly proportional to the progress of the Peace Process and the denial of far-right sectors to allow for the process to materialize”. According to the organization, 419 attacks took place in this period of time.

The commission appointed by the MP noted that there were 317 human rights violations that have been allegedly committed by paramilitary groups. In addition, they documented 102 alleged violations to the International Humanitarian Law and human rights violations. The police and paramilitary groups would be the reponsibles for such attacks.

According to the report, in the departments of Cauca, Antioquia, Chocó and Valle the highest amounts of Human Rights violations took place. In Antioquia, the most of the attacks occurred in September. According to the document, “these attacks were directed against the communities that were exercising their right to protest […]” and have been caused by members of the Police and Riot Police (ESMAD).

Also read “The Mad Men of ESMAD”

Meanwhile, in Cauca, these events mostly took place in November, while in Chocó, actions against the life and integrity of social activists mostly occurred in January, a month in which, incidentally, murders increased in relation to the previous four months.

The report also affirmed that “the most recurrent attacks against social leaders, organizations and communities are threats and murders, followed by stalking and harassment”. The data that the MP commission collected through denunciations from communities and organizations that oversaw the ceasefire, allowed for the MP to establish that November and October were the months with the most amount of threats.

Regarding the perpetrators, the MP reiterated its concern about the reported existence of paramilitary groups that are behind these attacks. Half of these events were perpetrated by unidentified authors, while 27% would have been made by the Gaitanista Self-Defense Groups of Colombia, or Gulf clan, followed by the AUC (all paramilitary groups). The remaining 8% was distributed in several groups of different denominations.

Also read “Colombia: Lack of political will to dismantle paramilitarism”

The report also drew attention regarding the “high levels of impunity that remain in some departments, the lack of effective investigations and comprehensive interventions” which encourages “the perpetrators to continue with the commission of criminal practices”.

For this reason, the MP states that currently “a scenario of persecution and violence similar to that of the genocide of the ‘Unión Patriótica’ (UP)” is taking place. This assertion is supported by the murders, threats and attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders and in the government’s media discourse, in whichofficials such as the Ministers of Defense, Interior and the Prosecutor General, deny the relationship between these events and political motives.

Also read “Patriotic Union: A Political Genocide”

Therefore, in the final chapter of the report, the MP political movement calls for the need to “purge institutions, control bodies, the military apparatus and the country’s decision-making bodies” in order to end with post-paramilitarism in Colombia.

In addition, they highlight the urgency of declassifying the intelligence files regarding the “internal enemy” and used by the public forces, as well, they make a call for the immediate implementation of the Political Mission that has the mandate to verify the reincorporation of the FARC-EP and the Implementation of personal and collective protection and security measures for human rights defenders.

Also read “We will not remain in silence!”

Source: El Espectador
Translated by FARC-EP

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