He says it’s been four times. Then he thinks about it and says takes it back, he says that it’s been five times. Pedro does not remember very well the number of occasions that the war has forced him to move from Peña Azul, a rural settlement on the banks of the Baudó river, in the Chocó department of Colombia, surrounded by jungle, always wrapped in rain and always nailed to the mud. Like everyone in this place, he speaks in a low voice, does not say much, but by bits he manages to tell what happened in his town last March 3: which caused him and other 526 people to leave the area in stampede from one moment to another.
The Verification Commission that visited between 17 and 19 February several rural settlements of Norte de Santander concluded its day in the territory of Catatumbo with the commitment to continue with the accompaniment to the community, social organizations and defenders of human rights at the light of denunciations made by peasants and indigenous people about the presence of paramilitaries in the region.
All of the members of the 18 Front of the FARC-EP are committed with the implementation of the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace. Our unwavering will and commitment to peace as well as that of the FARC-EP as a whole is asserted through the national outcry for peace that is being expressed throughout the country.
The dramatic increase of assassinations of social and political community leaders in Colombia on part of paramilitary death squads is gathering more and more concern among various social and political organizations and movements that work for peace and are direct victims of this situation that has been recognized by multiple human rights reports including the United Nations office of the high commissioner in Colombia.
The Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), the South American country’s largest neo-paramilitary group, has 8,000 members, the group’s spokesperson told Colombia Reports.
On Tuesday morning, Emilsen Manyoma, leader of Bajo Calima and a member of CONPAZ network (Peace-building communities, for its acronym in spanish), was murdered with her husband Joe Javier Rodallega.
On Wednesday, December 7, a public hearing was held in Congress on the issue of murders and attacks on social leaders.
Last November 28 a menacing message was received in the inbox of the communications commission of the Valle del Cauca branch of the movement Marcha Patriótica. In the text, four members of Marcha were threatened with death and the entire movement was stigmatized as “the party of the FARC”.
This past weekend, a pamphlet signed by “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” a known paramilitary organization that has already committed attacks and murders of social and political leaders in Colombia, threatened a series of social leaders of Barrancabermeja as well as offered money to whoever kills the people on the list.
Just a few days passed from the signing of the new Peace Agreement in Havana and in Colombia only this week four civil society leaders have been killed, while last week, two members of the FARC were killed by the army.