Recent Massacres Committed by Paramilitaries Linked to the Colombian Military
On November 1st 2000 a paramilitary death squad assaulted the village of El Cedral and its surroundings in Ituango municipality of Antioquia department. The paramilitaries murdered eight people and looted and burned over 25 homes. More than 400 people were forced to leave their homes in the area and have now joined the nearly 2 million other internally displaced people in Colombia - refugees fleeing paramilitary violence.
Two days later, on November 3rd, paramilitaries murdered 27 more people in three other villages in Antioquia. It is quite possible that the same paramilitary unit was responsible for all of these attacks and that the army facilitated their movement, by land and/or air, between the various settlements. As Human Rights Watch has documented on many occasions it is not uncommon for the Colombian military to assist death squads in this way.
Recent Massacre Committed by the Colombian Army in the Montes de Maria Region.
On the morning of October 16th 2000 around 400 Colombian soldiers of the 31st and 33rd Anti-Guerrilla Battalions of the Marine Infantry were deployed around the hamlets of Macayepo, El Limon, Floral, La Palma and La Pita, in Bolivar Department, and Verruga, Bajo Don Juan, La Palmira, El Pavo, Buenos Aires, Cana Fria and Palo Alto, in Sucre Department. These troops remained in their positions for two days ensuring that nobody could enter or leave the area that they occupied.
During those two days soldiers of the Tibrun Company (part of the 31st Anti-Guerrilla Battalion of the Marine Infantry), assisted by elements of the 11th Brigade of the Army, hunted down and murdered with clubs and machetes 15 peasants who lived in the area. In selecting their victims the soldiers used a list supplied by Colonel Harold Mantilla Serrano - I have been unable to find out exactly which unit the Colonel commands although it is widely known that he is closely linked with paramilitaries in Sucre and central Bolivar departments.
During the two-day killing spree the soldiers responsible also stole cattle, horses and hens and burned the homes of various peasants. The 400-strong military force was obviously deployed to stop any intervention by international human rights groups, or indeed a counterattack by guerrilla units, that would have attempted to prevent the massacres and protect the rural populations of these areas.
The Colombian state has done nothing to bring any of the military personnel responsible to justice. The individual officers responsible for the murders include:
- 1. Colonel Rodrigo Quinones Cardenas - Commander of the First Brigade of the Marine Infantry.
- 2. Colonel Jorge Castaneda - Commander of the 31st Anti-Guerrilla Battalion and immediate chief of the Tiburon Company
- 3. Major Moncada Galindo - Commander of the 33rd Anti-Guerrilla Battalion
- 4. Colonel Harold Mantilla Serrano
- 5. Colonel Benjamin Herrera
Paramilitary Attack in the City of Barrancabermeja
At about 4.00am on November 4th 2000 approximately 50 heavily armed paramilitary gunmen entered the port city of Barrancabermeja on the Magdalena River in Santander department. The group moved through the southeast of the city killing the following seven men:
- Francisco Javier Castro Jaimes
- Luis Arturo Perez Osorio
- Johel Jaime Suarez
- Ramiro Nino Ardila
- Jairo Alonso Suarez Morantes
- Carlos Alberto Suarez Ardila
- Donato Suarez Sanchez
The paramilitaries then moved into the "Alto del Campestre" district of the city and kidnapped two brothers: Rodrigo and Osvaldo Buitrago Pradilla. The two men have not been seen since.
Although the raid lasted over two hours and numerous people called for help, the Nueva Granada Battalion of the Army's Fifth Brigade took no action despite their heavy presence in the city
Electronic edition by Nizkor International Human Rights Team 14nov00
Human Rights in Colombia
Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights