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Sunday, March 11, 2007

San Josecito de Apartado

This morning we arrived in Apartado from Medellin. On our way to breakfast, Cecilia commented that everything in this town seemed so normal, and that it would not be until we started to talk to people that we would have a sense of the awful things that have happened here. It reminded me of Rwanda which also seemed so normal for having experienced barely a decade earlier one of the worst genocides in history.

This afternoon we arrived in our sister community, San Josecito de Apartado. Two young girls were laboring over a banner entitled “Lideres Victimas por el Estado.” By hand they were painting the names of all of the members of the community who had been killed by government forces. The list was extensive.

Four to five people are killed daily in the municipality of Apartado. Eight have been killed in the last week. Right now many of the killings are between rival paramilitary gangs struggling for control over drug trafficking in the region. They kill people who testify against them, but also target human rights defenders and engage in “social cleansing” (killing of prostitutes, thieves, beggars).

We return to our hotel in the city of Apartado for the night, and will return to the rural village of San Josecito tomorrow to continue our discussions.

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