Eighteen years ago, an event took place that profoundly impacted the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó: the Massacre of Mulatos and La Resbalosa, during which eight people, three of them minors, were cruelly murdered. This massacre, perpetrated by the XVII Brigade of the Colombian Army together with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary group that existed in the territory at the time, marked a milestone of separation with the State due to the lack of security guarantees and its responsibility for the impunity of these and other acts of violence that the Peace Community has faced since its creation.
The community, which declared itself a Peace Community on March 23rd 1997 as a strategy of resistance and survival in their territory in the midst of the armed conflict, has not ceased to be the target of acts of violence by both legal and illegal armed actors.
Now, with the strength and determination accumulated over years of resistance and struggle, the Community paid tribute to the 8 people murdered, 7 of whom were members of the Peace Community: Luis Eduardo Guerra, Bellanira Areiza, Deiner Guerra, Alfonso Bolívar Tuberquia, Sandra Muñoz, Natalia Tuberquia Muñoz and Santiago Tuberquia Muñoz.
In this commemorative and solemn act, the children of the Peace Community sang songs to remember their lost family members. Each member, physically absent, yet inevitably present in the collective memory to continue defending the land and demanding justice, was remembered.
The Peace Community makes the journey to the district of La Esperanza, to make their presence in the area more visible.
La Esperanza appears to be an oasis of peace. However, within 10 minutes of the district are machinery and equiptment to build a road that would cross land owned by the Peace Community, something that the Community has rejected. The Community is an avid advocate for life and land, and fears that the road will be an excuse for mining companies to exploit the area, a move that would damage the environment as well as local ecosystems.
The following day we visited the district of Playa Larga with several other international organisations that accompany the Peace Community.
The Peace Community and their commitment to caring for the environment and the and the land they live on.
Don Toño, member of the Peace Community, arrived in the area in the 1970s, when he was only 8 years old. He recalls times when there used to be more forests and trees, and laments the development towards industrialisation and urbanisation. “Who pays the price? We do, the rural workers and farmers.”
The Peace Community will be celebrating its 26th anniversary on 23 March 2023 and is organising a grand celebration.
Memorial for the massacre of Mulatos and Resbalosa
Mass in the village of Luis Eduardo Guerra, 7:30 am on February 21st – the exact time and date of the massacre 18 years ago. The Community remembers the deceased, listening to the voice of Luis Eduardo Guerra, the then legal representative of the Peace Community, in an interview he gave before his death.
Mass in the village of La Resbalosa, 12 pm on February 21st – the exact time and date of the massacre perpetrated 18 years ago. The community sing in memory of the victims of the massacre, as they sit in the forest and listen to the words of Father Javier Giraldo, a priest who has accompanied the Community since its foundation.
Germán Graciano Posso, known as Mello, legal representative of the Peace Community, and Father Javier Giraldo.
The Peace Community returns home after the commemoration, preserving the memories of the people killed during the Mulatos and La Resbalosa massacre.
Children play football in the village Luis Eduardo Guerra, Mulatos, after an eventful day packed with memories and emotions.
Sunniva Johansen y Nátaly Lopez Navarro