Farmers march to Cartagena to demand justice for 2002 massacre

More than 500 farmers arrive in Cartagena, north Colombia, after a two-day march to demand justice for a massacre committed in 2002.

The villagers walked from Maria La Baja, a town in the north-western department of Bolivar, to demand the enforcement of reparations agreed earlier this year.

In the first ever ruling as part of Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, relatives of the victims were awarded a payment of $124,000 for each loved one murdered and $62,000 for each loved one displaced in the atrocity.

AUC paramilitaries murdered 11 people and displaced thousands of people  in the town of Mampujan in 2002. Victims met with paramilitaries at a hearing last year to determine reparations, the first of its kind in Colombia.

The agreed compensation has still not been paid, prompting the relatives to protest. Juana Ruiz, one of the community’s leaders, said, “We are demanding reparations (…) for all the community. It is on paper, but that doesn’t help us until it is put into effect. We are asking the government and the authorities to get involved and execute these written promises.”

Arturo Zea, coordinator of Colombia’s National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation, said, “This march is a warning sign to call on civil society and the state to meet the obligations which were contained in the sentence.”

Former paramilitary chiefs Edward Coboa Tellez, alias “Diego Vecino,” and Uber Banques, alias “Juancho Dique,” were sentenced to 39 and 38 years respectively for their part in the crimes.

 

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