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Colombia Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) begins its work in Chocó and Urabá

The next is a summary of data offered by the JEP in Spanish, which might be discovered here.

On four March 2019, communities from the Humanitarian Zone Nueva Esperanza in Cacarica (Bajo Atrato-Urabá-Chocoano) added their oral testimonies relating to the serious crimes committed towards them in the context of Colombia’s inner armed battle to the testimonies delivered on 10 December 2018.

The testimonies have been introduced by the:

  • Comunidad de Vida y Trabajo (Group of Life and Work), La Balsita, Dabeiba;
  • the Group Council of the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones of Jiguamiandó, Curbaradó, La Larga Tumaradó and Pedeguita Mancilla;
  • the Indigenous Resguardo (Reservation) Alto Guayabal;
  • the Cooperativa Blanquicet; and
  • the Affiliation of Victims of Violence in Riosucio.

The target of the listening to was to gather the
testimonies of victims of violations dedicated by totally different armed actors in the
Bajo Atrato region between 1995 and 1997, specifically the paramilitaries, FARC
guerrilla and the Safety Forces.

The testimonies have been introduced to the “Chamber for the Recognition of Truth, Responsibility and Determination of the Facts and Conduct of the JEP” (La Sala de Reconocimiento de Verdad, de Responsabilidad y de Determinación de los Hechos y Conductas de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz -JEP) the oral part of the combined report on critical crimes committed, including the pressured displacement and subsequent dispossession of the lands of the communities in the context of the armed battle.

This hearing is symbolic as it’s the first to be held in such an isolated rural area. Chocó is likely one of the prime ten hotspots of biodiversity in the world. In contrast to another Colombian Department, 95 per cent of the inhabitants is indigenous and Afro-descendant. It has also skilled continuous abandonment by the Colombian State. Immediately this region continues to expertise a humanitarian crisis.

The testimonies submitted by the communities’ type part of the proof for case 04 opened by the JEP, which prioritises the state of affairs of the municipalities of Turbo, Apartadó, Carepa, Chigorodó, Mutatá, Dabeiba (Antioquia) and El Carmen del Darién and Riosucio (Chocó).

We voluntarily clarify what occurred, the disappearances and massacres of our comrades, the threats of the leaders, which is why we at the moment are demanding our proper to the truth.

— sufferer from the Indigenous group of Alto Guayabal


Snapshot of the historical past of the conflict in the region

Operation Genesis (from ABColombia’s report “Fuelling Conflict in Chocó”, see more right here.)

Chocó is a distant space of Colombia and, as such, had skilled restricted battle until 1997 when Operation Genesis, a military-paramilitary offensive, started in the north of the department causing terror and mass pressured displacement. In that yr alone, 27,433 individuals in Chocó have been forcibly displaced as the paramilitaries moved southwards en masse.[1] The river communities from Riosucio to Quibdó felt the drive of their violence, with the Observatory for the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and Worldwide Humanitarian Regulation registering an intensity in the conflict ‘rarely seen’.[2]

The planes bombed through the day and the mosquitoes completed us off at night time… I felt ailing and asked God to assist me attain shelter in order that the child would not be born in the countryside. At 5 the pain began, and I gave start at six. Through the march via the rainforest, seven youngsters died from exhaustion, starvation and drowning throughout river crossings.

— Younger lady pressured to flee her house in Bajo Atrato

This violence coincided with the appliance for collective possession of land by Afro-descendant communities in Chocó, a proper included into the 1991 Constitution and enacted by means of Regulation 70 of 1993. By the late 1990s, most of the communities had established the governing buildings required by Regulation 70 and had started submitting purposes to the State for their formal land titles. On the similar time the right-wing paramilitary teams Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), shaped into a nationwide construction with considered one of its prime aims to take control of land occupied by Afro-descendants for which collective title deeds had not yet been issued or where the appliance had been submitted. The leaders of Group Councils (governing physique of collectively owned land) making use of for collective land rights have been threatened, attacked and murdered.[3]

The civilian inhabitants has suffered human rights violations and abuses by all armed actors. These violations embrace financial blockades, kidnapping, threats, persecution, massacres, torture, killings, dismembering of our bodies, selective executions, pressured disappearances, sexual violence, intimidation, anti-personnel mines, burning of villages and acts of ‘social cleansing’.[4]

The Colombian Safety Forces in Chocó operated in collusion or in joint operations with the AUC,[5] leaving the inhabitants utterly exposed to the violations and abuses with no authorities to turn to for safety. By 2001, in Chocó the AUC numbered over 8,000 members.[6]

Regardless of the Peace Accord which was signed in November 2016, between the Government and the FARC, the interior conflict continues in the present day. When the FARC left their conventional strongholds to demobilise the facility vacuum left behind was not crammed by the state. In consequence, these power vacuums turn out to be areas which other unlawful armed groups fought to regulate, specifically, the ELN guerrilla (the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia; it was not included in Peace Talks with the FARC), neo-paramilitary groups (these go beneath numerous names), the ELP guerrilla and the FARC dissidents. During the last months, communities in Urabá and Choco have been reporting an elevated presence of the ELN and the AGC neo-paramilitary group in the Atrato area. The increased militarisation of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian collectively owned territories has led to infractions of Worldwide Humanitarian Regulation (IHL), combats with the communities in the center, armed incursions, pressured displacement and pressured recruitment of youngsters, as well as, using anti-personnel mines in their territory.

Case of “Operation Genesis” was taken to the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights

Victims describe what happened in “Operation Genesis” in a report to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR Report N 86/06). Operation Genesis was designed by the XVII Brigade of the Nationwide Military to fight the FARC-EP presence in the area; nevertheless, victims say that it was carried out with the direct involvement of paramilitaries sporting AUC and ACCU (Campesino Self-Defenders of Córdoba and Urabá) insignia. Additionally they alleged that the armed males who participated in the army operation murdered the social leader Mr Marino López.

Right here is an extract from the victims/petitioners introduced to the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights – IACHR (the complete version may be read here, paragraphs 11 to 20):

“The petitioners claim that between February 24 and
27, 1997, the Afro-descendants dwelling along the River Cacarica have been affected
by a collection of aerial and land-based bombardments, raids, attacks on their
property, and threatening behaviour that led to the pressured displacement of
their communities. They declare that this operation, referred to as “Operation Genesis,”
was designed by the XVII Brigade of the Nationwide Military to combat the FARC-EP
presence in the area but that it was carried out with the direct involvement
of paramilitaries sporting AUC and ACCU insignia. Additionally they alleged that the
armed men who participated in the army operation murdered Mr. Marino López.

Particularly, they declare that on February 24, 1997,
airplanes and helicopters flew over the Cacarica basin area, and troops from
the Military’s XVII Brigade started shifting overland towards the world. Through the
morning, they claim, representatives from the Afro-descendant communities tried
to satisfy with the officer in cost of the operation in Bocachica, identified as
Maj. Salomón, to which finish they approached a gaggle of troopers stationed on the
floor. The say they needed to cross several safety cordons manned by members of
the AUC and the ACCU and that they only managed to talk with an armed and
camouflaged civilian by the identify of Cornelio Maquilon, who informed them he was
approved to speak for Maj. Salomón and advised them to go for the municipality
of Turbo in Antioquia.

The petitioners report that in the course of the afternoon,
the primary pressured displacement of tens of families happened: some headed for
larger land, and others walked for more than ten hours till they reached the
River Atrato and sought refuge in the municipality of Turbo. By 7:45 p.m. the
bombardments of the Salaquí and Cacarica river basins had begun, and they
continued for three hours.

They declare that the second “wave” of collective
displacements passed off that same night, when army operations began in
the group of Puente América on the banks of the Atrato. They report that
armed males ordered the Afro-descendant residents of the world to go away in 24
hours have been up and left indicators studying “Long reside the paramilitaries of Chocó and
Córdoba” and “A/C: Death to Guerrillas and Informers.”

The petitioners declare that on February 26, 1997, at
around 1:10 p.m., some 150 civilians sporting armbands of the Voltigeros
Battalion of the Army’s XVII Brigade and the Marines arrived at the settlement
of Bijao alongside the River Cacarica, firing their weapons. Upon listening to the
explosions, some group members stampeded towards the mountainous a part of the
land, where they met with models involved in the army operation that have been
surrounding the settlement. For 20 minutes the armed males fired their weapons
and threw grenades at the roofs of their houses, whereas others ransacked homes,
outlets, and barns. Additionally they sprayed the group’s outboard motors with
machinegun hearth and set hearth to an electricity plant.

The petitioners declare that at round 1:30 p.m., the
armed males pressured the members of the group to collect in the schoolhouse,
the place they have been advised that that they had three days to desert their lands. When
requested concerning the cause for the eviction, they replied that those have been the
orders that they had and that “in the event that they were not out in three days, [they] would not
be responsible for the results.”

The petitioners claim that the subsequent day, February
27, 1997, the armed men tortured and decapitated Marino López Mean.  The
petitioners state that members of the army and paramilitaries then kicked
it on repeated events, as if it have been a football match, following which they
invited the members of the group of Bijao who noticed the incident to hitch in
the sport.

The petitioners claim that in the course of the morning hours
of February 27, 1997, armed males sporting the insignia of the Voltigeros
Battalion of Brigade XVII and of the ACCU entered the group of Bocas del
Limón, on the banks of the River Peranchito; they ordered the Afro-descendants
to abandon their houses for 15 days and stated that the Nationwide Police was waiting
for them in Turbo. The petitioners report that as the assembly was happening,
the armed men burned down two houses and a small retailer belonging to the
group’s Ladies’s Committee. Additionally they ransacked group property and left
slogans on the partitions of the homes, with footage of skulls and the legend
“Death to the Guerrillas. Sincerely, ACCU. The Ox.” Before leaving, the armed
males made a menace: “In 4 days’ time, if we find anyone right here, we’ll minimize their
heads off.”

The petitioners declare that the first three
displacements in the communities of Bocachica, Teguerré, Villa Hermosa,
Bijao-Cacarica, El Limón, Quebrada Bonita, and Barranquilla have been followed by
others in the remaining villages. By February 28, 1997, virtually 2,500 individuals had
been displaced from the Cacarica area to Turbo, Bocas del Atrato, and Panama.
Only a few residents determined to remain in the Cacarica basin.

The displaced persons who determined to take refuge in
Turbo have been first taken there by police models in vans and animal carts. A
giant proportion gathered together on the sports stadium, where they remained
for a number of months in circumstances of subhuman overcrowding. In flip, the individuals
of Bijao, Puente América, La Honda, and El Limón who have been unable to succeed in Turbo
took refuge in Bocas del Atrato, the place they have been initially given shelter in a
schoolroom. Those that tried to return to the Cacarica space met with a army
checkpoint at La Loma. One other group of 250 residents – principally ladies and
youngsters – reached the border with Panama after a 15-day hike via the

[1], El Atrato: Dos décadas de guerra, 23 November 2014. Centro de
Recursos para el Análisis de Conflictos

[2], El
Atrato: Dos décadas de guerra, 23 November 2014.

[3] Programa Somos Defensores, Los Nadies, August 2015.

[4] Conferencia Episcopal de Colombia, Atrato: entre la tragedia, el destierro y el abandono, July 2002; Inter-American Fee on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing on the human rights state of affairs of displaced Afro-Colombians, 131st common session, 12 March 2008; IACHR listening to on racial discrimination and entry to justice of Afro-descendants in Colombia, 133rd regular session, 23 October 2008.

[5] See, for example, Inter-American Courtroom of Human Rights, Case of the Afro-descendant Communities displaced from the Cacarica River Basin (Operation Genesis) v. Colombia,  Judgment of November 20, 2013, (Preliminary objections, deserves, reparations and prices), paragraphs 278 and 279;  testimony of paramilitary chief Freddy Rendón,

[6] ABColombia Report, Fuelling Conflict in Choco