Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó: 2005 – 2013

In the basins of the Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó rivers, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) continued to denounce threats against leaders of the Humanitarian Zones and the presence of alleged paramilitaries near and inside Humanitarian Zones: for example, in meetings in Belén de Bajirá,[1] in the Humanitarian Zone of Nueva Andalucía[2], in the area of Santa Rosa de El Limón[3] and in Bijao Onofre.[4] The communities have also drawn attention to the destruction of their crops and the threats made against them by bad faith occupiers.[5] Furthermore, CIJP and community members continued to call attention to the construction of a military base near Llano Rico in the collective territory occupied in bad faith by Darío Montoya.[6]

As for the process of land restitution, CIJP and 17 communities in the river basin expressed their concern over the methodology used for the consolidation of the ad hoc census committee in Carmen del Darién, which they claim was used to exclude these communities from the restitution process.[7]

The family of Manuel and Samir Ruíz—who were forcibly disappeared on 23 March 2012, tortured and killed—returned to their lands and formed the new Humanitarian Zone Costa Azul.[8] On June 3 Leonel Suescún—a man who has threatened the family and works for the bad faith occupiers of Los Ríos—was found loitering around the new Humanitarian Zone.[9] On 22 June, CIJP reported that paramilitary groups threatened to kill members of the Ruíz family.[10]

Murder of community leaders

As the communities have organised to defend their rights, selective murders of leaders have increased.[11] In 2010, nine small-scale farmers who were leading processes to recover seized land were murdered in Urabá[12]:

  • 2005: Orlando Valencia, an inhabitant of the Curbaradó River Basin, was one of the voices violently silenced when, in 2005, members of paramilitary groups from the “Elmer Cárdenas” Block forced him onto a motorcycle.[13] His body was later found with a shot to his head and signs of torture.[14]
  • 2008: alleged paramilitaries murdered Ualberto Hoyos, an inhabitant of the Caño Manso community that had recently returned to the area. Previously, in September 2007, the brothers Miguel and Ualberto Hoyos had survived an attempt against their lives. The Hoyos brothers carried out a fundamental role in the return of 80 displaced families to the Caño Manso community in the Curbaradó River Basin. Miguel Hoyos had also provided testimony in the case of the murder of the farmer Orlando Valencia during hearings carried out in 2006.
  • 2009: alleged paramilitaries murdered Benjamín Gómez, an 80-year-old farmer, inhabitant of Caño Manso, and community council member.[15]
  • 2010: alleged paramilitaries murdered Argenito Díaz, who was 42 years old and a member of the board of directors of the Curbaradó River High Council. According to CIJP, “he participated actively in preparing and presenting the writ of protection against the businesspeople in order to recover the collective private property in Llano Rico.”[16] Díaz had been threatened in August 2008.[17]
  • March 2012: Manuel Ruiz (and his son Samir) a land restitution leader from of the Curbaradó, were murdered.[18]

Threats and attacks

According to information from CIJP, the leaders demanding the return of their land have received threats on an ongoing basis over the last several years. For instance, Enrique Petro Hernández has received many telephone threats over the last years from alleged members of the illegal group “Black Eagles”. María Ligia Chaverra, former legal representative of the Curbaradó High Council and leader in the process to return to the region, was the target of an assassination plan in 2008[19]. Both of these individuals have been granted provisional measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.[20]

National and international organisations have intervened on many occasions for the safety of the ancestral inhabitants of the region. However, few results have been achieved and the threats against their lives have not decreased, despite all of the measures that have been decreed. In this respect, in May 2010, the Constitutional Court ordered the Ministry of Interior and Justice to design and put implement an individual and collective prevention and protection plan for the population and communities in the Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó River Basins that take into account the recently deteriorated security situation and the vulnerability of the communities[21]:

  • 20 November 2012:  Bad-faith occupiers in Curbaradó assert that there is a murder plan targeting the communities of Caño Manso and Nueva Unión, and that assassins have already been hired.[22]
  • 29 November 2012:  CIJP denounces an alleged mass murder plan against members of the Curbaradó Humanitarian Zones by alleged paramilitaries.[23]
  • 5 March 2013: Death threat against Yuber Camilo Ruiz (foster child of Manuel Ruíz, leader of Afro-descendants in Curbaradó, murdered in March 2012) and his family in Apartadocito (in Curbaradó) by Leonel Suescún, recognized by the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) as a bad faith occupant of communal lands in Curbaradó.[24]
  • 5 April 2013: Death threat issued against Guillermo Díaz and Enrique Cabezas, leaders of land claimants in Curbaradó, by Darío Montoya, who is recognized by the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) as a bad faith occupier of collective territory in Curbaradó.[25]
  • 10 April 2013: Death threat via text message signed by “Los Rastrojos” against Marta Giraldo (MOVICE Valle del Cauca) and Walter Agredo (FCSPP Valle del Cauca).[26]
  • 11 April 2013: Death threat against Andrés Carmona, leader of the land restitution process in Curbaradó, from a stranger who declares: “Fifteen days before the evictions, you will go home feet first. That is all I’ll tell you.”[27]
  • 26 April 2013: Óscar Cabezas, brother of Enrique Cabezas, is intimidated by—and receives a death threat from—two suspected paramilitaries who, after aiming at him with a weapon, decide not to shoot because “it was not who they were looking for.” According to CIJP, their target is the land restitution leader Enrique Cabezas.[28]
  • 28 April 2013: CIJP reports the existence of a hit list released by alleged paramilitaries with the names of six land restitution leaders targeted for assassination. The list included Guillermo Díaz and Enrique Cabezas, leaders of the land restitution process in Curbaradó.[29]

Monitoring and surveillance

  • 22 February 2013: Surveillance of Andres Carmona, land restitution leader of the Curbaradó community and member of the restitution process census committee, perpetrated by members of an alleged paramilitary group.[30]
  • 2 May 2013: Trespassing by alleged paramilitaries at the home of Guillermo Díaz, located in the Humanitarian Zone of Argenito Díaz in Curbaradó.[31]
  • 3 May 2013:  Loitering by unknown men, twice in the same day, around the home of Guillermo Díaz, community leader from Curbaradó.[32]

Defamations and slander

  • 27 December 2012: Slander against CIJP and the Humanitarian Zone of Curbaradó by Lieutenant Colonel Cortez, commander of Jungle Battalion No. 54, who said the influence of the 5th and 57th Fronts of the FARC is behind the opposition to the installation of a military base in the collective territories.[33]

Criminal prosecutions

  • On 27 October 2010, CIJP learned that 15 to 20 arrest warrants had been issued against members of the lower councils from Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó. Additionally, CIJP has revealed that the case on the murder of Manuel Moya and Graciano Blandón relies on baseless accusations that have never been legally established. These accusations are based on statements by a demobilised guerrilla member and another individual who has continually slandered CIJP and other international organisations in the area over the years.[34] Some of the leaders currently under investigation have provided statements in the criminal case against palm oil businesspeople and cattle ranchers allegedly responsible for the violent seizure of land and mass displacement in Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó at the end of the 1990s.

[1] CIJP: Nuevas amenazas de muerte a líderes reclamantes de tierras, 17 April 2013
[2] CIJP: Continuidad de abusos empresariales, planes de asesinatos contra líderes reclamantes de tierras, 16 May 2013
[3] CIJP: Paramilitares confinan a integrantes de consejo comunitario, 27 May 2013
[4] CIJP: Orden de desalojo para favorecer a sector empresarial despojador, 11 April 2013
[5] CIJP: Continuidad de abusos empresariales, planes de asesinatos contra líderes reclamantes de tierras, 16 May 2013
[6] Ibíd; Association of Humanitarian Zones: Pronunciamiento ante construcción inconsulta de base militar de la brigada 17, 15 May 2013
[7] CIJP: Los Ruíz en el territorio donde mana leche y miel, 7 June 2013
[8] CIJP: Sin plenas garantías regresa la familia Ruíz a territorio colectivo, 2 June 2013
[9] CIJP: Movilización de amenazante de la familia Ruíz, 3 June 2013; CIJP: Los Ruíz en el territorio donde mana leche y miel, 7 June 2013
[10] CIJP: Nueva amenaza a la familia Ruíz, 22 June 2013
[11] El Espectador: ¿Quién mató a Argenito?, 24 January 2010
[12] Verdad Abierta: Oscar Mausa, otro líder de despojados de Urabá asesinado, 26 November 2010
[13] Colombian National Army: Alias El Alemán reconoce crimen, 29 October 2008
[14] CIJP: Orlando Valencia, 24 October 2008
[15] CIJP: Asesinado Benjamín Gomez, habitante de la Zona Humanitaria de Caño Manso, 7 September 2009
[16] CIJP: Asesinado Argenito Diaz, líder de Llano Rico, 15 January 2010
[17] Ibíd.
[18] CIJP: [For the Record]: Land restitution leader Manuel Ruiz assassinated with his son, Samir Ruiz, CIJP, 2 April 2012; PBI Colombia: Action Alert: Disappearance and subsequent assassination of land reclamation leader and his son in the Curbaradó river valley, 29 March 2012
[19] CIJP: Empresario busca sicario ordenando asesinar a Ligia Maria Chaverra y Manuel Denis Blandón, 13 February 2008
[20] Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Medidas provisionales respecto de la República de Colombia, asunto comunidades del Jiguamiandó y Curbaradó, Order of 30 August 2010
[21] Order 448 of 2010, Constitutional Court
[22] CIJP: Amenazas de muerte a reclamantes de tierra, 21 November 2012
[23] CIJP: Amenaza de nueva masacre, presencia paramilitar, cultivos de hoja de coca y daños ambientales provocados por Maderas del Darién, 10 December 2012
[24] CIJP: Amenaza a familia Ruiz Gallo, 6 March 2013
CIJP: Empresario reitera amenazas a líderes de Curbaradó, 5 April 2013
FCSPP, MOVICE and Sintraunicol: Urgent Action: Nuevo mensaje amenazante contra organizaciones sociales y de derechos humanos de Colombia, 12 April 2013
[27] CIJP: Nuevas amenazas de muerte a líderes reclamantes de tierras, 17 April 2013
[28] CIJP: Frustrado atentado de paramilitares a líder de tierras, 26 April 2013
[29] CIJP: Plan de paramilitares para asesinar reclamantes de tierra, 28 April 2013
[30] CIJP: Seguimiento por paramilitares a integrante del consejo comunitario de Andalucía, 23 February 2013
[31] CIJP: Continuidad de abusos empresariales, planes de asesinatos contra líderes reclamantes de tierras, 16 May 2013
[32] CIJP: Continuidad de abusos empresariales, planes de asesinatos contra líderes reclamantes de tierras, 16 May 2013
[33] CIJP: Señalamiento de militares a comunidades en Curbaradó, 3 January 2013.
[34] CIJP: CIJP denunció la existencia de 15-20 órdenes de captura contra líderes de las Zonas Humanitarias y de Biodiversidad del Curbaradó y del Jiguamiandó, 27 October 2010

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