Colombia: Take action to protect peace community
“We have always said, and in that we are clear, that until this very day we are resisting. And our work is to continue resisting and defending our rights. We don’t know until when, because the truth we’ve lived in our story is this: today we are here talking; tomorrow we may be dead.”
—Luis Eduardo Guerra, 37 days before his death
Demand justice for San José de Apartadó!
Yesterday, members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó traveled, on foot and by mule, through heavy rains and oppressive sun, to visit the grave of Luis Eduardo Guerra. Built in the typical campesino style, it is a small wooden house with an aluminum roof, weathered and hidden among tall grasses and guava trees. The journey commemorates the 2005 massacre of seven Peace Community members and a local man. Among the community members was Luis Eduardo, co-founder and celebrated leader.
Take action now to protect Peace Community Leaders — and demand justice seven years after the massacre.
Seven years ago, on February 21, 2005, armed uniformed military patrolled the Peace Community near the Mulatos River together with paramilitary “guides.” They detained Luis Eduardo, his girlfriend, and his 11-year old son. Army and paramilitary gunmen also attacked a family on a nearby farm. In the days that followed, their bodies were found: killed by machete and mutilated. The dead included Luis Eduardo and Alfonso Bolivar and their families, including Alfonso’s six-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son. The massacre triggered the displacement of most of the Peace Community families in the area, leaving their farms and homes empty.
Although today some of them have returned, slowly repopulating the area surrounding the Mulatos River, their struggle continues. Both legal and illegal armed groups remain throughout the region, wandering from place to place and camping inconspicuously in nearby hillsides. Their presence is a reminder that the persecution of members and leaders continues to afflict the community.
Their persecution continues. Less than three weeks ago, on February 4, Jesús Emilio Tuberquia, Peace Community legal representative, was violently attacked in the town center of Apartadó. It was one of many situations that have made him fear for his own life. Recounting his experience, he was shaken: “This was just another attempt to destroy our community. It’s obvious that they want to see it fall apart.”
The Peace Community continues to resist. This February’s commemoration marks seven years since the massacre alongside the Mulatos River. It marks the death of Luis Eduardo and his family and the loss of various leaders, children, and campesinos throughout the years. It marks a struggle that, despite fear, persecution, and loss, continues to live. Today, Peace Community members will find, once again, the courage to continue.
These kinds of attacks are a reminder that the Peace Community continues to face threats and harassment.
Liza, Susana, John, Gina, Isaac, Elisabeth, Jonathan, Charlotte, Emily, and the FOR team
Your continued support helps us protect leaders like Jesús Emilio and push for justice in the case of the 2005 massacre. Make a tax-deductible donation toward our anniversary campaign, as we celebrate 10 years of FOR’s presence in La Union and 15 years since the community was first founded.
Interested in visiting the Peace Community? Join FOR’s summer delegation to Colombia!