Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more

"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

  • facebook
  • rss
  • twitter

Colombia: February massacre linked to School of the Americas training

Many Peace News readers will have heard the news of the massacre of eight civilians, including three children, in the Colombian Peace Community of San Jose' de Apartad in February 2005 (see PN2460).

Assassinated with his family and five others was Luis Eduardo Guerra, a founder of the community and a speaker at the November 2002 Vigil to Close the School of the Americas (SOA).

Training murderers

SOA Watch has learned that the commander of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian military, the unit accused of the massacres, is a graduate of the School of the Americas.

General Hector Jaime Fandio Rinco'n attended the Small-Unit Infantry Tactics course in order to become familiar with small-unit operational concepts and principles at the squad and platoon level [to] receive training in planning and conducting small-unit tactical operations. In December 2004 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

Forced out

Since the massacre no investigation into the military or the 17th or 11th Brigade has taken place. All the focus is on forcing community members to testify, at risk of their lives, instead of focusing on the military that was in the area at the time of the murders.

Police forces have flooded San Jose' against the wishes of the Peace Community, which has taken a fundamental stance against all armed actors. Since the massacre, all but five of the 100 families that formed the Peace Community have been forced to leave their homes and land.

In cahoots

For years, official reports from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and even the US State Department have established the collusion and collaboration between the US-trained Colombian army and right-wing paramilitary forces.