Paramilitaries murder 22 peasant farmers in Cesar, northern Colombia.

MINGA, the Association for the Promotion of Social Alternatives informs national and international public opinion, that paramilitaries currently engaged in so called “peace negotiations” with the Colombian government, detained, tortured and then executed 22 peasant farmers in the villages of La Mas Verde and Nuevo Horizonte, in the municipality of Curumani, Cesar.

The facts:

  • a) On 4 and 5 December 2005, a group of about 200 armed men in uniform, identifying themselves as members of the Northern Block of the AUC paramilitaries, under the command of Jorge 40, entered the villages of La Mas Verde and Nuevo Horizonte in Curumani, Cesar. In these villages they then committed every imaginable abuse against the civil population before detaining and taking away a large group of civilians. 22 of these people were later tied up and executed, shot at close range.

  • b) Before killing them, the paramilitaries tortured their victims. They then stole cattle and other goods from the villages.

  • c) Of the dead peasant farmers, only 3 have so far been identified. 64 year old Carlos Julio Hernandez Triana’s remains were found in a ditch in the village of La Mas Verde. The bodies of Elidez Ramirez Pineda and Hector Julio Manzano were recovered by the national army and taken away to the nearby town of Curumani. The other 17 bodies are still to be identified due to the severe state of decomposition. The bodies had been left out in the open and eaten by carrion animals. Neither the police nor judicial authorities have so far made any attempt to recover or identify these bodies.

  • d) The paramilitaries managed to enter these villages and then leave without facing any opposition from the armed forces. They set up road blocks and blockaded the local population until 7 December, forbidding anyone to enter or leave the area. They then returned to their bases in Curumani and Pailitas in Cesar.

  • e) The inhabitants of this zone and understandably scared about future paramilitary activity in the area. They also have no access to food and medicines.

We therefore demand the following:
Of the national government:

  • a) Guarantee the lives, integrity and freedom of the people of Curumani.

  • b) Provide psychosocial and material assistance to the victims of this paramilitary incursion.

  • c) Neutralise and combat the paramilitary group responsible for the massacre.

  • d) Inform public opinion if this paramilitary group has broken the terms of the ceasefire and the negotiations with the administration of President Alvaro Uribe Velez.

  • e) That the Attorney General’s Office urgently send a judicial commission to the area to find, identify and return the bodies to their loved ones, and to prosecute those responsible for the massacre.

  • Of Sergio Caramanga, the Organisation of American States overseer of the Peace Process with the paramilitaries:

    • a) Verify the facts and to denounce this action as a violation of the ceasefire agreed by the paramilitaries and the Colombian government.

    • b) Publish a report about these events.
Bogotá D.C., 9 December 2005.

[Source: Translated into English by Andy Higginbottom, London, 11Dec05]

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