Among the most severe attacks against the Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó communities in 2016, the following are worthy of note:
Threats and attacks
- 17-23 January: death threats against James Ruiz of the Costa Azul Humanitarian Zone (Curbaradó, Urabá) by neo-paramilitaries occupying the community of El Cerrao.
- 14 March: men dressed in civilian clothes burned at least 3 hectares of cassava crops on the property of the Cabezas family in the El Paraíso Biodiversity Zones, located inside the Apartadócito Lower Community Council in the Curbaradó Collective Territory (Chocó Department).
- 6 April: trespassing and intimidation at the Argenito Diaz Humanitarian Zone (Llano Rico, Curbaradó) by two unknown men, one of whom was hiding a handgun.
- 11 and 12 April: threats by workers employed by cattle rancher Antonio Lopera Lopera against the land claimants Enrique and Oscar Cabezas from the El Paraiso Biodiversity Zone, in the Curbaradó Collective Territory. One of them, Atilano Catala, stated that “his boss” would report Enrique and would not pay for the damage done by his cattle to food crops grown for the El Paraiso Biodiversity Zone. Another worker threatened and intimidated Oscar Cabezas and said that he had worked for many years with Carlos Castaño, who was a relative of former president Uribe, and that he didn’t care if he had to kill somebody.
- 8 May: threats to burn the National Protection Unit (UNP) boat assigned to the leader and land restitution claimant Maria Ligia Chaverra, in Puerto Brisas, Curbaradó. The threat was made in response to breaking the curfew ordered by the neo- paramilitaries, which prohibited transit on the Curbaradó river after 6 pm.
Monitoring and surveillance
- 3 May: an unknown person took photographs of relatives of Ruiz Gallo, as well as leaders of the Curbaradó Collective Territory, international observers and human rights defenders from the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) during the exhumation of the bodies of Manuel and Samir Ruiz in Chigorodo cemetery.
As reported by CIJP, the neo-paramilitary groups continue to maintain a constant presence and are moving men throughout the territory. These groups justify their presence by claiming to be envoys of ‘El Patrón’, the local nickname for Freddy Rendón Herrera, also known as ‘El Alemán’, who was released last year after fulfilling his sentence under Law 975, known as the Justice and Peace Law. On 9 January, a few metres from the Army’s Jungle Battalion No. 54, neo-paramilitaries threatened the local people and forbade them from working on their land, adding that these lands were not part of the collective territory and ‘El Patrón’ was coming to reorganize them.
At the same time, CIJP warns that neo-paramilitaries under the command of Jose de Jesus Moya, known as ‘El Cucho’, forced eight young people, whom the group alleged were drug users, to clean the road between Pavarandó and Barranquillita. On 1 January one of the young men was detained again in Pavarandó and then taken to a place known as La Pepita where they killed him because they alleged that he had fallen back into stealing and taking drugs.
Locals report these neo-paramilitary structures continue to exercise pressure on young men in the area, offering them money, marijuana and women if they work for them.
As CIJP alerts, one strategy of the neo-paramilitary groups is to pass themselves off as guerrillas. This happened on 5 March in a place known as La Tamba in the Caño Seco community in the Curbaradó collective territory, at least known 20 neo-paramilitaries were observed who identified themselves as guerrillas and told locals that they should get used to their presence.
Furthermore, the return process in many communities have beens held up by events like those on 13 February, when cattle rancher Fransisco Castaño and a group of seven armed and hooded men entered the community of La Madre Union, in La Larga Tumaradó collective territory, and threatened to burn the houses of community council members if they refused to leave the land.On 1 February, the cattle rancher again arrived in the collective territory, accompanied by an official from the Choco environmental agency, Codechoco, with the intention of confiscating the community’s wood.
Also in the Jiguamiandó basin, the recovery of the stolen land is proving ever more difficult because bad faith occupiers remain on the community’s land. Bad faither occupier Dario Montoya is involved in several cases of illegal appropriation, such as the acquisition of 55 hectares in the community of Bracitos in the Jiguamiandó collective territory.
This land is the property of the Manchego Urango family, but Montoya assures that he bought it from a man called Arnoldo Lopez. For claiming this land, Fredy Manchengo has suffered constant threats and intimidation by Dario Montoya’s administrators. On 8 January, on the land in question, locals observed a camp of around 30 neo-paramilitaries who stayed there for 3 days.
As reported by 18 Community Councils of the Curbaradó Collective Territory, in a public letter at the beginning of April, neo-paramilitary groups continue to maintain a constant presence and are moving around the region. This situation is amplified by the presence of large palm oil, plantain and cattle ranching businesses, all of whom are bad faith occupants who took over land that is part of the Collective Territory, for the purpose of occupying it on the basis of intimidation and threats. The communities and the CIJP have asked the authorities to evict the bad faith occupants and to respect the orders of the Constitutional Court, but Government intervention has been almost non-existent.
On 29 May, eight men dressed in civilian clothing and armed with handguns were looking for Hector Perez, a land restitution leader, in his plot of land near the La Madre Union Biodiversity Zones, in the Collective Territory of La Larga Tumaradó. When they couldn’t find him, they left. As CIJP alerted, the neo-paramilitaries wear civilian clothing and carry weapons to exert pressure and maintain control of the population. Men known as ‘Pancho’,‘Jaime’ and ‘Andres’ allegedly extorted money from small businesses in Brisas, only a short distance from members of the Public Security Forces.
In Guacamayas, Turbo municipality, La Larga-Tumaradó and the area bordering the Curbaradó basin, serious incidents occurred involving neo-paramilitary groups in June. On two occasions, people identified as AGC members entered the hamlet of Guacamayas, threatened and robbed the people to force them to leave and renounce their claims over the land. Some of the 32 families in the area decided to leave as a result of the situation. The association of land claimants, Tierra y Paz, denounced an alleged plan to attack family farmers who are claiming land in the Guacamayas area.
Curbaradó, Pedeguita and Mancilla, and La Larga Tumaradó River Basins (Chocó)
In recent months, neo-paramilitary groups have maintained a constant presence, and have moved their men around the entire region. This situation is exacerbated by the presence of large palm oil, banana and cattle ranching businesses, all of them bad faith occupants who invaded lands recognized as belonging to the Collective Territory of the black communities, and who occupy the farmers’ land by means of intimidation and threats. Shots have been fired in the air at night near the community lands, seemingly to try to intimidate the people who live there.
Despite the presence of the Security Forces in Belen de Bajira, the neo-paramilitary structures of the Gaitainista Self- Defence Forces of Colombia (AGC) are operating and attacking the civilian population without any effective response from the State.
There have been a number of murders, such as the killing of an individual who lived in Buenos Aires in la Larga Tumaradó Collective Territory, on 11 September in the urban area of Belen de Bajira, in the presence of his six year old son. According to locals, the neo-paramilitaries have a list of names in their possession of people they will assassinate.
PBI has been informed that in Belen de Bajira murders are being carried out in a pattern that could be called ‘social cleansing,’ as in the case of two young men who were assassinated: the first was killed on 3 July, reportedly because he had consumed hallucinogenic substances: and the other was killed on 29 August, accused of several thefts.
Jiguamiandó River Basin (Chocó)
The presence of neo-paramilitaries in the Jiguamiandó basin continues to become even more visible. The Inter-ethnic Roundtable for Peace and Reconciliation in Murindo (Mesa Interétnica por la Paz y la Reconciliación in Murindo) municipality, Antioquia, has reported that the civilian population, particularly the afro-descendant and indigenous communities, have been subjected to armed incursions and threats by neo-paramilitaries on various occasions since July 2016.
Neo-paramilitaries are also traveling within the Jiguamiandó basin region despite the presence of the security forces. On several occasions in August, men armed with assault rifles, some dressed as civilians and others in camouflage, were seen by locals and identified as neo-paramilitaries, staging an armed incursion into the Urada indigenous community. They intimidated the population and ordered the community to keep quiet about their presence. On 16 August at least a hundred armed men were seen by the local community.
The inhabitants of the Humanitarian and Environmental Refuge of Urada Jiguamiandó So Bia Drua, in Carmen del Darien municipality, have undertaken a search throughout their territory to verify the presence of neo-paramilitairies and requested protection measures for the indigenous communities.
 CIJP: Plan de atentado a James Ruiz y asesinato de joven por paramilitares, 1 February 2016
 CIJP: Destrucción de cultivos de pan coger en Zona de Biodiversidad “El Paraíso”, 16 March 2016
 CIJP: Hostigamiento a líder reclamante de tierras, 9 Aprill 2016
 CIJP: Ganaderos ocupante de mala fe afectan predios colectivos, 12 April 2016
 CIJP: Paramilitares prohíben atravesar río Curvaradó, 10 May 2016
 CIJP: Seguimiento durante exhumación de los restos de Manuel y Samir Ruiz, 3 May 2016
 CIJP: Reactivación paramilitar con asesinatos, amenazas y control de uso de la tierra, 12 January 2016
 CIJP: Reactivación paramilitar con asesinatos, amenazas y control de uso de la tierra, 12 January 2016; Plan de atentado a James Ruiz y asesinato de joven por paramilitares, 1 February 2016
 CIJP: Operaciones paramilitares en Curbaradó y Jiguamiandó, 19 March 2016
 CIJP: Amenazas a líderes de la madre unión, 17 February 2016
 CIJP: Bajo Atrato, Amenazas al líder afrodescendiente y miembro de CAVIDA, MARCOS VELÁSQUEZ; hostigamiento y movilidad paramilitar en Curvaradó, Jiguamiandó y Cacarica, amenazas a las familias CABEZAS y MANCHEGO, 28 March 2016
 CIJP: Persiste exclusion para elección de representante legal del curvaradó, 26 April 2016
 CIJP: Hostigamientos a reclamantes de tierra en el Curvaradó, 1 June 2016
 CIJP: Paramilitares prohíben atravesar río Curvaradó, 25 May 2016
 IPC: Presuntos Gaitanistas amenazan a reclamantes en Urabá y les roban el ganado, 10 June 2016; IPC: Campesinos de Guacamayas no aguantaron agresiones y se están desplazando, 12 June 2016
 IPC: Alerta en Guacamayas por posible arremetida de grupos armados, 27 June 2016
 CIJP: Disparos indeterminados en inmediaciones del territorio colectivo, 30 August 2016
 CIJP: Nuevo asesinato en Belén de Bajirá 15 September2016
 CIJP: Persiste presencia y acción Neoparamilitar en Pavarandó, bajo la práctica de “limpieza Social”, 10 September2016
 CIJP: Amenazas neoparamilitares a líderes en Curvaradó, 29 August 2016
 CIJP: Neoparamilitares se movilizan en predios indígenas y afros, 14 August 2016. Cijp: Neoparamilitares retuvieron a dos indígenas y anuncian nuevo paro Armado, 15 August 2016. CIJP: Neoparamilitares en Jiguamiandó, 18 August 2016
 CIJP: Pedimos garantías ante nuevas operaciones neoparamilitares, 31 August 2016