Cacarica: 2016

Among the most severe attacks against the communities of Cacarica in 2016, the following are worthy of note:

Threats and attacks

  • 7 July: Threat against Marco Velázquez, a leader from the Cacarica Community Council and a member of the Cacarica Communities of Self Determination, Life and Dignity (CAVIDA). Two individuals approached Velázquez on a motorcycle, saying that they had humiliated him and were going to enter community territory and “grab three or four leaders, so the people would feel it.”[1]
  • 21 September: Threats and verbal intimidation against three leaders from the organization CAVIDA, who live in Nueva Esperanza en Dios Humanitarian Zone in Cacarica Collective Territory: Marco Velázquez, Bernardo Vivas and Rosalba Córdoba. The neo-paramilitary alias ‘Pelao Blanco’ declared that he had orders to find the leaders and “shoot them, for being guerrillas”.[2]


Despite the ruling, issued more than two years ago, of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Operation Genesis case, which include measures to generate protection mechanisms for the Afro-mestizo population in Cacarica, no policy for its implementation has yet been developed. The people who live in the basin have been targeted by neo-paramilitary operations and accused of being guerrilla collaborators. On 7 January, 250 neo-paramilitaries arrived in the Caño Seco community of the Salaqui River basin and tied up two Afro-descendant people and accused them of being FARC guerrilla collaborators.[3]

On 10 January, neo-paramilitaries retained five people, four of whom they released in the Cacarica collective territory.[4] Two of the victims were from the Balsagira community in Cacarica.[5]

On January 15, nearly a hundred neo-paramilitaries passed through Teguerre, Cacarica, towards the NuevaVida Humanitarian Zone, as they had warned they would do several days earlier.[6]

The armed ban on travel and movement imposed by the AGC neo-paramilitary group from 31 May to 1 April prohibited the inhabitants of the Cacarica basin from travelling throughout the Lower Atrato area. People in Rio Sucio municipality were also restricted from travelling.[7]

Since the end of 2015, neo-paramilitaries have been confining the civilian population in the Salaqui river basin, four hours from the Cacarica Collective Territory. On 15 April the presence of 150 neo-paramilitaries in the Teguerre community was reported in Cacarica Collective Territory intimidating the civilian population, stopping them from going out to work, from leaving their houses and from using their cell phones.[8]

During the month ofApril, there were three incidents of fighting reported between the FARC and the neo-paramilitary group AGC in the Salaquí basin, which provoked the displacement of 65 families towards Rio Sucio municipality.[9] Subsequently on 16 April the AGC murdered a young man of 26, Elias Pertuz, in the Salaquí basin. According to reports by the community, the neo-paramilitary group accused him of being a guerrilla collaborator and threatened the rest of the civilian population, saying that they had a list of people they considered to be “snitches”.[10]

CIJP warns that neo-paramilitary groups are controlling all the vessels travelling up the Atrato river at Tumaradó, where they search the population, and confiscate food that they accuse people of transporting for the guerrillas.[11]

On 10 May, there were reports of the presence of an armed group of AGC men in the community of San José de Balsa, in the Cacarica Collective Territory, near the Humanitarian Zones of Nueva Vida and Nueva Esperanza.[12]

The inhabitants have denounced the presence of a binational military base that has been there for three years without prior consultation. The Wounaan community undertakes various activities on these lands, and they view the purpose of the base as restricting the free movement of the civilian population in the area. At the end of June,Wounaan indigenous inhabitants of Juin Pubur community came across Panamanian Security Forces when they were hunting.They were told that they could not remain in the area and warned that it had been mined.[13]

There had been a tense calm in prior months regarding the neo-paramilitary presence; however, on 14 August, inhabitants of the Cacarica Basin observed the presence and movements of a group of men wearing camouflage, with some in civilian clothes, who were transporting weapons. Some of the men confirmed that they were neo-paramilitaries and asked the civilians not to denounce their presence.

The previous Friday, 12 August, a group of neo-paramilitaries carried out operations in La Coquera, an area which belongs to the San José de la Balsa Minor Community Council.[14] This group of neo-paramilitaries remained encamped in the area. On 4 September, movements of neo-paramilitaries were reported at an hour’s walk from the community.[15]

On 6 September, a group of approximately 150 armed men wearing camouflage uniforms were carrying out operations in different parts of the Cacarica Collective Territory. They called themselves Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, restricted the free movement of the population during night hours and declared that their objective was to break into the Nueva Vida Humanitarian Zone.[16]

These recent incidents have created unease amongst the civilian population. As well as being victims of Operation Genesis, members of the CAVIDA association have been granted precautionary protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, under which the Colombian State is obligated to protect the black communities of Cacarica.[17]


[1] CIJP: Neoparamilitares amenazan a Marco Velázquez, líder de CAVIDA, 7 July 2016
[2] CIJP: Neoparamilitares amenazan a tres líderes, 21 September 2016
[3] CIJP: Paramilitares habrían asesinado y amenazan con incursiones a Zonas Humanitarias, 12 January 2016
[4] Ibíd.
[5] Ibíd.
[6] CIJP: Continúa avance paramilitar, 15 January 2016
[7] CIJP: El paro armado afecta a pobladores del Bajo Atrato, 1 April 2016
[8] CIJP: Paramilitares confinan a habitantes de Cacarica, 18 April 2016
[9] CIJP: Comunidades de Salaqui en desplazamiento y en riesgo de confinamiento, 22 April 2016
[10] CIJP: Paramilitares asesinan a un joven en Salaqui, 1 May 2016
[11] CIJP: Paramilitares en operaciones en territorio Colectivo de Cacarica, 11 May 2016
[12] Ibíd.
[13] CIJP: Militares panameños irrumpen en Colombia, 4 July 2016
[14] CIJP: Neoparamilitares realizan operaciones en Cacarica, 14 August 2016
[15] CIJP:Avanzada paramilitar en Cacarica, 4 September2016
[16] CIJP: Continúan movilidad de neoparamilitares, 6 September2016
[17] Ibíd.

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