PBI-Colombia warns of death threats against the Peace Community of San José de Apartado

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On December 23, 2021, PBI-Colombia accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó on a march in defence of life and to protest the murder of Huber Velásquez just a few days earlier.

On January 11, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Death threats increase in #Uraba against the Peace Community of San José de Apartado, a process accompanied by PBI Colombia, at the same time that there are murders of residents in the region.”

PBI-Colombia also shared a Colombia+20 tweet that states: “A list of 15 people for whom there is a death sentence circulates in that Urabá community. According to testimonies, the maxim is to work with the AGC or to be assassinated. The climate of anxiety increased after the fall of ‘Otoniel’ [the leader of the AGC, arrested in October 2021].”

That El Espectador article notes: “The threats began on November 19 in the village of Mulatos Medio, where the paramilitaries of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) or Clan del Golfo convened a meeting of the Communal Action Boards to announce to the population that there would be strict control of the cutting of wood in the region with reprisals for those who failed to comply with their orders.”

“The culmination of everything was the murder of Húber [Velásquez], a merchant and friend of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.”

El Espectador further notes that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace declared on January 7, 2022, that the massacre of four campesinos and four children from the Community on February 21-22, 2005, as a crime against humanity.

Justice for Colombia is also now reporting that the JEP has determined that army colonel Orlando Espinosa Beltrán, who was one of six military officials convicted in 2019 over the killings, is among the officials guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Their article adds: “The peace community in San José de Apartadó was established in 1997, declaring itself as neutral in the conflict. However, its inhabitants faced high levels of violence, principally from paramilitaries and state actors, as they attempted to live peacefully amid one of the most conflict-affected regions of Colombia.”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó since 1999.

On March 23, 2021, PBI-Colombia accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó as it marked its 24th anniversary in struggle for life and territory.

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