Eighty families of peasants and ex-AUC members in the municipality of Unguia, Choco department, have been displaced by alleged members of the FARC’s 57th Front, newspaper El Espectador reported Monday.
The group of displaced, composed of 40 peasant families and 40 families of demobilized AUC members from the former Elmer Cardenas Bloc headed by alias “El Aleman,” were displaced to the center of the nearby town and are staying in two temporary shelters.
The displacement was, according to authorities and members of the group, sparked by threats and intimidation by FARC guerrillas. Two members of the Villa la Paz community, a farming project run by the former AUC members as part of the demobilized Elmer Cardenas cooperative Construpaz, were murdered in mid-April.
“The peasants informed me that the guerrillas ordered them to say to the demobilized [members] that they had already killed two comrades and that if they didn’t leave, they would terminate all of them,” said Mayor of Unguia Ever Urrego, stating that the town has not experienced any problems with the presence of the ex-AUC members.
Construpaz Director Horacio Restrepo said that the group informed the government of security problems caused by the FARC back at the end of 2009, and that the government promised members that they would receive adequate security measures to ensure the safety of the community.
“They promised us security from the army so that we could continue with these projects, but today we have two companions dead and families displaced,” said Restrepo.
The director said that the families are awaiting the implementation of security conditions that will allow return. “We didn’t leave anything there … We will not return until we see concrete actions where the ICRC (Red Cross=, the army and the government are present to guarantee us that no one else will be assassinated.”
General Hernan Giraldo, Commander of the Army’s 17th Brigade, said that the army is reinforcing regional security, in order to avoid another attack. “This project is very important for us, because it shows that the demobilized can work without arms; it is an example for the others.”
The Villa la Paz project, developed by the ex-AUC members, has been running since 2006, with approximately 750 acres of land dedicated to growing rubber, corn and rice crops. The project has received assistance from the national government, Accion Social and the United Nations, and runs branches in various other municipalities.