Caribbean Region: the implementation of democratic security in 2002 and the persecution in Montes de María

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The territorial volume of the Final Report of the Truth Commission shows that not only the guerrillas persecuted peasants and other civil actors, but also The DAS did it, an entity that sometimes committed judicial 'false positives'


Oscar Mauricio López

Caribbean Region: the implementation of democratic security in 2002 and the persecution in Montes de María

According to the Final Report of the Truth Commission, between 2002 and 2004 there was strong persecution of Kankuamo indigenous people by the DAS and other agents of the Infobae State (Jesús Avilés)

“(…) We are companions, we are brothers, that is how life is lived, not with a rifle, as Álvaro Uribe considered us, that we were guerrillas because we were peasants,” a peasant from Montes de María told the Truth Commission on the democratic security policy, implemented since Álvaro Uribe became president of Colombia in 2002.

Due to those elections there was a general atmosphere of skepticism about the dialogues in Caguan (mainly because the FARC continued committing crimes in the middle of the process), and despite the fact that all the candidates supported their continuation if they were elected, the truth was that Uribe Vélez< /b>, once he arrived at the Casa de Nariño, he placed strong conditions on those dialogues and, in general, on all dealings with the guerrillas based on his security policy.

The same year that he took office (August 2002) he decreed a state of internal commotion given the violence that was experienced in rural areas and the overflowing growth of the “miraculous catches” carried out mostly by the Farc; In addition, this measure was imposed to create rehabilitation and territorial consolidation zones in Arauca and the Montes de María. In that region, peasants and indigenous people began to feel the negative effects of democratic security that, although it generated a reduction in fishing due to the increase in foot force on roads and strategic points, increased the stigmatization against Montemarian communities.

According to the Commission, since 2002 kidnapping figures began to drop, as well as attacks and guerrilla takeovers of highways. By 2003 there was a notable drop in the rate of massacres and forced displacements in the Colombian Caribbean. That same year, the roundtable was established in Santa Fe de Ralito, Córdoba, to reach a peace agreement between the government and the AUC. Two years earlier, the Ralito Pact had been created in that municipality., which brought together political leaders and caciques, as well as ranchers and businessmen, in order to ensure that this paramilitary group, in the event of a demobilization, should have a presence and participation in Congress.

With the launch of the 2003 talks, the cases of forced displacement and massacres continued to decline. However, targeted killings did not decrease; On the contrary, they increased in Montes de María, as well as the persecution against Kankuamo indigenous people and peasants. According to data collected by the Commission, that year alone, 3,679 selective homicides were recorded, the highest figure for the period 1994-2010. In addition, during that period, 28,957 selective crimes were committed throughout the Caribbean.

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On these cases, the National Center for Historical Memorydata that 61.84% of the selective murders were perpetrated by parastatal agents and 5.75% by the guerrillas. This has to do, to a large extent, with the fact that the Convivir figure was legalized in the 1990s. “In that power vacuum that contracted the legal recognition of private security forces, the growth of the self-defense groups was made possible, which possessed very high military capacity,” says an inter-institutional investigation carried out by the Santo Tomás University and the Armed Forces.

“It would only be necessary to affirm, for the sake of truth, that paramilitarism It loomed over the Montes de María —in fact, throughout the country— like a lethal war machine that massacred, murdered, forcibly disappeared, kidnapped, tortured, recruited minors, dispossessed, and forcibly displaced peasant, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian communities; extorted, sexually assaulted, enslaved, and denigrated the Montemarian civilian population in multiple ways,” says the Truth Commission.

DAS persecution in Montes de María

There was already a precedent for arbitrary detentions in the country: the security statute imposed in the government of Julio César Turbay (1978-1982) became famous for the effects on individual freedom and the lack of guarantees of due process. In the first Uribe government there was strong persecution and stigmatization, especially against the Montemarian population in the Colombian Caribbean.

The report 'That they call us innocent' prepared by the Corporation for Excellence in Justice —Dejusticia— details that the period in which these cases occurred the most was between 2002 and 2004. For the Commission, the disproportionate increase in this type of persecution is It was due to the situation of the state of internal commotion, and despite the fact that in 2004 it diminished, the phenomenon became more selective, persecuting academics, trade unionists and social leaders.

The Kankuamo people were one of those who suffered the most from this re-victimization by the State, since before that they had been persecuted by the guerrillas. This community submitted a report to the Commission detailing the violence suffered by many of its members. In particular, the entity created after the Final Peace Agreement highlights that the State arbitrarily detained more than 50 indigenous people, including authorities such as Wilmer Ariza and Hermes Arias.

In addition, in 2005, 16 Kankuamo were captured and presented to the national press as responsible for an ambush in which 15 policemen died in a minefield belonging to the 59th front of the Farc. On this, the Dejusticia report calls attention to the press and its responsibility in the re-victimization of arbitrarily detained communities. The DAS also contributed to these arbitrary arrests, functioning “as an organization at the service of stigmatizing, persecuting, and eliminating those who challenged the elitist order or wanted the State to function well.”