On Monday June 24th as two CPTers arrived to Las Pavas four armed security guards on horses appeared abruptly and prevented them from traveling by motorcycle the rest of the way to the settlement of campesinos. The guards claimed that the land they were traveling on was private property of the palm company Aportes San Isidro despite government rulings that the land of Las Pavas is state land to be titled to the small farmers who have been working the land for decades. After engaging in conversation about the illegality of this restriction of movement, the CPTers were forced to dismount the motorcycles and walk the remaining 50 meters to the settlement.
The next morning, the 25th, three Las Pavas community members were arriving to the farm with their farming tools when five armed guards stopped them on the main road and would not allow them to continue. Two CPTers arrived with other community members. The guards were adamant that the men could not pass with farm implements regardless of international presence. They insulted the CPTers and accused them of being guerillas who have brainwashed the community. The three men were forced to turn back home and lost a day’s work in their fields.
A couple of hours later CPTers were asked to accompany more community members arriving from town, carrying supplies for their homes. We carried baskets along the road under the watchful eye of the security guards who looked inside to see what we were carrying but let us pass. While passing through, Mario Marmol the head security guard, unsuccessfully tried to steal a CPTer’s personal camera from the hands of a campesino.
On Wednesday June 26th a couple of armed security guards followed campesino farmers to their land. The farmers had taken two law students with them to show them the crops. The security guards accused them of having clandestine guerilla meetings on the farm and chopped down one of the farmer’s fences.
At 11:13am on Thursday a ball of fire was launched at the communal ranch house. In an attempt to burn down the thatch roof structure, a ball of socks held together with wire and doused in diesel fuel was lobbed at the ranch from inside the palm crops of Aportes San Isidro. The ball of fire flew over the ranch house where one CPTer was inside and landed on the tin roof of a community member, bouncing twice and falling to the ground. A pregnant woman with her three children was inside the house at the time.
The situation in Las Pavas is escalating and the palm company Aportes San Isidro is enjoying continued impunity from the Colombian authorities. CPT denounces these continued acts of violence against the Las Pavas community and we pray that the Colombian government will take action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these rural farmers.