Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó: 2015

Among the most severe attacks against the Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó communities in 2015, the following are worthy of note:

Threats and acts of aggression

  • 15 April: death threat in Playa Roja (Curbarado) against international human rights organisations and the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) in a meeting with re-settlers of the Association of Agricultural Producers of Belen de Bajira (ASOPROBEBA),[1] who reiterated that they would not leave the land they had stolen.[2]

Tracking and surveillance

  • 7 March: James and Cristián Ruiz Gallo, sons of the assassinated land restitution leader Manuel Ruiz, were followed by several men in Pavarandó and El Cerrao, in Curbaradó.[3]
  • 10 March: Surveillance and tracking of Trinidad Gallo, Manuel Ruiz’s widow, in Apartadocito, (Curbaradó). A man in civilian clothes approached the Ruiz family’s guard, asking him if Mrs. Gallo had given testimony in Medellín the prior week.[4]


On the 18th of March, a group of masked men armed with machetes and revolvers forced their way into the home of Mrs. Marlene Benítez with guns blazing. Mrs. Benítez is reclaiming lands in the Pedeguita and Mancilla river basins, which are next to Curbaradó. These men, whom, apparently included members of Belén de Bajirá Farmers Association (Asoprobeba, in Spanish)[5], set fire to Mrs Marlene’s home after tying up and beating family members, a neighbour and a worker. This happened only a few days after a judge denied precautionary measures for the residents of the river basin, stating that there was no evident threat in the territory. The Police refused to intervene.[6]

Similarly, the family of Manuel Ruiz, (Curbaradó land restitution leader assassinated together with his son in 2012), were victim of several acts of harassment. Several days after testifying in the initial hearings in the case of their father and brother’s murder, Cristian and James Ruiz were pursued in Pavarandó by a recognized neo-paramilitary member and several men on motorcycles. On a separate occasion the bodyguard assigned to Trinidad Gallo, Manuel Ruiz’s widow, was intercepted and interrogated by a man in regards to her whereabouts and her declarations in Medellín for the case of Manuel and Samir’s murder.[7]

Meanwhile, the General Assembly has still not been held to choose the High Council that will have authority on the use of the Curbaradó river basin’s collective territory. Nevertheless, as both the communities and their accompaniers have denounced, INCODER currently plans to implement economic projects in the river basin without waiting for the General Assembly to be held. The projects would adapt the drainage systems constructed by palm oil companies, to use them for large-scale banana production. Some of the businessmen associated with the palm oil companies were recently convicted for ties to paramilitary groups.[8]

In recent months, land claimants in the Curbarado, Pedeguita and Mancilla river basins were victim of death threats and thefts. The situation continues to be very tense, especially in the Pedeguita and Mancilla river basin.

Threats against members of the Community Council continue to be made by members of the Association of Agricultural Producers of Belen de Bajira (ASOPROBEBA), and a physical attack against Felipe Triana and Marlene Benitez on 18 March by members of the Association was denounced.[9]

Death threats by members of the ‘Usuga Clan’ caused the displacement of Maria Hernandez, a leader of the Pedeguita and Mancilla community, from the area.[10] On 15 April, three members of the Bijao Onofre Community Councils, Hernan Bedoya, Francisco Rengifo and Argemiro Hernandez received death threats. An inhabitant of Playa Roja, Ramiro Rios Cortes, said that he would get the families off the land by force if they did not voluntarily leave the territory.[11]

Members of the Andalucia[12] and Caño Manso[13] communities in Curbarado continued to receive threats this quarter. They emphasise that remedial actions ordered on the land by the Constitutional Court have not been taken and various bad-faith occupants, as named in the 2012 Institute of Rural Development (INCODER) report, still remain on the territory and the evictions ordered by the Court have not been carried out.

In Curbaradó, in spite of the orders issued by the Constitutional Court in Rulings 045[14] and 112 of 2012,[15] the eviction of the bad faith occupants named in the 2012 INCODER (official land agency) report[16] has yet to be implemented and they continue illegally make use of land in the collective territories of Afro-descendent communities.

CIJP, which accompanies several communities in the region and has a presence there, denounced that the Triana and Benítez families from the Pedeguita and Mancilla community, who were attacked by 45 armed men in March of 2015,[17] have yet to receive attention from State institutions as corresponds to them as victims.[18] It is worrisome that the Riosucio Municipal Inspector expressed that she had not gone to carry out field observations because “she was afraid,” and invalidated this displaced family’s decision to return to their land.[19]

During July and August of 2015, the Caño Manso community met on two occasions with the National Government to request the fulfillment of the eviction orders against the bad faith occupiers in their territory. During these meetings the government promised to visit the area, nevertheless, to date this has not occurred.[20]

The presence of neo-paramilitary groups has also been registered in the Curvaradó River Basin near the Humanitarian and Biodiversity zones; areas inhabited by land claimants. On 12 October a plot was discovered to assassinate certain land claimant leaders, with orders to “kill them as soon as they let their guard down.”[21]

Later, at a December meeting in the rural community of El Cerrao, six armed men arrived and warned that they were here to stay and that almost 600 neo-paramilitary members were planning to settle in the Curvaradó River Basin, according to testimonies taken by CIJP. Another neo-paramilitary group was also seen in the municipalities of Pavarandó and Llano Rico. The armed men made it public that they were going to have meetings with the community leaders so that they could start the project to “get back” the land.

It was also made clear that if anyone put up any resistance they would be assassinated. In El Cerrao some of the paramilitaries threatened CIJP directly, confirming that they were going to settle in the Curvaradó River Basin to guarantee the land for the “bosses”, and that they needed to “banish the Commission of Justice and Peace.”[22]

The presence of neo-paramilitary groups was also registered in the Jiguamiandó River Basin. Neo-paramilitary operations have been conducted in the basin for the last three years. On October 31st a group of men dressed in camouflage and armed with assault rifles entered the small village of El Guamal in the collective territory of Hobo and in the indigenous territories of Alto Guayabal.[23]

The armed men entered in plain view of the inhabitants and said, “we have come to stay”, and indicated that they had sufficient supplies to stay for a long time. They also stated that they had the support of the local military brigade. Because of this incident the inhabitants of the area have felt obliged to restrict their daily activities for fear of becoming targets of neo-paramilitary operations.[24]


[1] Verdad Abierta: El fantasma de Sor Teresa Gómez en territorio Chocóano
[2] CIJP: Amenazan de muerte a defensores de DDHH, 20 April 2015
[3] CIJP: Sin garantías para la verdad ni para la devolución de la tierra, 13 March 2015
[4] Ibíd.
[5] This is a 1,100 hectare plot located in Santa Maria la Nueva del Darién, bought by Sor Teresa Gómez Álvarez from the drug trafficker Hugo Fenel Bernal Molano for 100 million pesos and later was donated to the Belén de Bajirá Farmers Association (Asoprobeba) to implement a plantain project for exportation. However, according to community denouncements, several families had previously been displaced from the area by paramilitaries. The project was based on the Córdoba Peace Foundation (Funpazcor, in Spanish), a project connected to the Castaño brothers to legalize people’s dispossession from their land.
[6] CIJP: Armados atacan y desalojan familia reclamante, 19 March 2015
[7] CIJP: Sin garantías para la verdad ni para la devolución de la tierra, 13 March 2015
[8] CIJP: Destrucción ambiental y amenazas a los territorios en Curvaradó por INCODER, 13 February 2015
[9] CIJP: Amenazas de muerte contra reclamantes , 10 April 2015
[10] El Espectador: La pugna por la palma africana 11 June 2015
[11] CIJP: Amenazas de muerte contra reclamantes , 10 April 2015
[12] CIJP: Amenazan con desalojar ilegalmente a viuda propietaria en Curvaradó , 2 June 2015
[13] CIJP: Paramilitares pretenden asesinar a un niño , 7 June 2015
[14] Constitutional Court, Republic of Colombia: Ruling A-045, 7 March 2012
[15] Constitutional Court, Republic of Colombia: Ruling 112, 18 May 2012
[16] Colombian Institute for Rural Development: Caracterización jurídica y saneamiento de los territorios colectivos de Curvaradó y Jiguamiandó. Technical report written by Incoder, in fulfillment of Ruling 045 and 112 of 2012, ordered by the Constitutional Court, 12 July 2012
[17] CIJP: Amenazas de muerte contra reclamantes, 10 April 2015
[18] CIJP: Funcionario muestra a víctima de torturas, registro del momento de las mismas, 27 June 2015
[19] Ibíd.
[20] CIJP: Despojo paramilitar beneficia a multinacionales, 8 de septiembre del 2015
[21] CIJP: Plans to assassinate leaders and candidates, 12 October 2015
[22] CIJP: Paramilitaries announce territorial control and make a threat “we are going to get back the land of the bosses in prison”, 16 December 2015
[23] CIJP: Paramilitary siege of indigenous and afro-communities, 3 November 2015
[24] Ibíd.

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