147 massacres have been committed in Colombia in the first four months of this year, and the number of dead left by these massacres has reached almost 800, double the figure for the same period of last year.
The victims, as always, comprise the most vulnerable members of the population; campesinos, and indigenous and black communities who endure all types of atrocities without receiving any protection. These communities have become immersed in a conflict in which they want or have no part. They are trapped in an economic system which exploits and impoverishes them every day, they are victims of both national and foreign investors who exploit their land, their mines and whatever resources they possess; and for these reasons they are forcibly displaced from their land and there culture, or they become victims of inhuman massacres. Extreme cruelty is a part of these killings; victims are often tortured in front of their families and children, and on some occasions chainsaws have been used to de-limb living people. After each massacre, the houses are all burned, possessions are stolen and livestock all taken away.
Two of the most violent massacres that have taken place in the last few weeks happened in the municipalities of Tierra Alta and La Naya, where almost 50 campesinos were killed, including a pregnant woman and various old and ill people.
The material authors of these massacres are the paramilitaries, who are used to murder whole communities and especially their leaders, and to sow terror among the survivors.
The majority of these massacres are denounced to the state, but no serious investigations are ever mounted, and the authors of these crimes continue to enjoy impunity.
The United Self-defence Forces of Colombia (AUC by their acronym in Spanish) who run the paramilitaries, and who are accused of some of the most brutal human rights violations, were recently included in a new list of ‘terrorist organisations’ by the State Department in the United States, but with the benefit that since they pose no threat to United States national security, no sanctions will be targeted towards them.
Another joke is that the Colombian State is offering a massive reward for the capture of the AUC leader, Carlos CastaÒo, even though everyone knows where to find him, and he is often to be seen in the national and international press, offering epic stories about his life and works.