March was a big month for our team in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. The team started off with a round of meetings in Apartadó, including meetings with the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ombudsman Office, the Urabá Police, and finally the 17th Brigade, which operates in San José de Apartadó. We held these meetings to express concerns about violations of the Geneva Conventions and protection measures that are guaranteed to the Peace Community and to gather information about the region to keep the team safe.
Then Adilah left the initial training in Bogotá to join the team in the field just in time to accompany with Nikki to a nearby Peace Community hamlet. On March 23rd, Adilah, Nikki, and Michaela all joined in the celebrations of the San José Peace Community’s 18th anniversary – 18 years of being a community that actively resists all armed forces in the area.
The brutal massacre that took the lives of eight civilians, including three children on February 21, 2005 in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó, has become an emblematic case of government impunity and injustice. In the wake of these events, former President Álvaro Uribe publicly insinuated collaborative ties between the community’s population and guerrillas, accusations that would continue to threaten and endanger civilian lives:
In this community […] there are good people, but some of their leaders, patrons and defenders, are seriously marked by people who have resided there as having helped the FARC, and wanted to utilize this community to protect this terrorist organization.
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