In places such as Caloto, Corinto and Suarez, life seems almost pedestrian, but since a paramilitary upsurge around 1998, this region has seen incredible terror. In the years which followed, the Cauca river became known as “the cemetery”.People were often dismembered alive with chainsaws and thrown into the waterways, or beheaded in town squares to spread panic. The land vacated when people fled this type of horror then became fair game.High above Suarez, at La Toma, community council leaders Francia Márquez and Lisifrey Ararat are fighting tooth and nail to save their historic village, home to an Afro-Colombian gold mining community since 1636. Here, locals use the same methods practised by their ancestors to mine the hills by hand. Now, they are caught in the middle of a three-way war between the guerrillas, the army and the paramilitaries.A decade ago, when the government began granting mining concessions in the municipality to outside investors, Colombian and multinational corporations took notice. In the years that followed, 35 new concessions were granted locally, ignoring a prior community consultation process guaranteed under Colombian law. Then the eviction notices came.‘Social cleansing’ When La Toma protested, the paramilitaries moved in. Death threats and promises of “social cleansing” from the Águilas Negras followed; on April 7th, 2010, armed men at nearby Alto Ovejas massacred eight miners.Attempts to evict 1,300 families at La Toma were most recently thwarted in April of last year, after locals took a case to the Colombian constitutional court. The new licences were suspended as they had not adhered to prior consultation, but locals fear the breathing space is temporary.
[ed notes;colonel john mesas argument that colombias army has received the most rigorous human rights training in world is orwellian double speak..if by human rights training he means training in counterinsurgency operations thru military advisers and leaders trained at school up assassins at fort benning usa,then sure yes,they have been well trained,in everything from extrajudicial assassinations to eradicating peasant resistance to an exploitative preditory system wich has plundered and mobilized to expropriate their lands for decades..as far as human rights are concerned,please this is same army who after false positive scandals broke out,threw clown parties for soldiers and their families involved in the process Clowns, Aromatherapy and Suckling Pig for the 46 Soldiers Charged with ‘False Positives’ A day for the “false positives” suspects ...anyway also see.. NGO: 'Alarming' link between US aid and 'false positives' - Colombia ... Plan Colombia 101 http://www.cipcol.org/?cat=41