Colombia. Last Monday, November 23, in the narrow road that leads from Granada to El Castillo, four armed men who identified themselves as paramilitaries, approached the public service vehicle in which Fr. Enrique Aponte Annear, a Claretian Missionary, was travelling together with a lay missionary sister and 13 other passengers. Fr. Enrique was held up with a fire arm, stripped of his belongings and threatened: “if anybody moves we will kill him.” Fr. Enrique and the lay missionary sister were returning after participating in a Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral of Granada and withdrawing money from a Bank in the same city. When they reached the bank of the Ariari River, where the vehicle had to be transported in a ferryboat, the four paramilitaries appeared. One of them boarded the ferry and shouted with a strong voice: “We are paramilitaries, let nobody move,” and at the same time he aimed at all passengers with a pistol. Then the armed man directly looked at Fr. Enrique, aimed at him with the weapon and asked for his bag; the priest resisted and the paramilitary aimed at his head with the pistol and told him: “let go of the bag or I kill you, I kill you, I kill you,” and he took the bag from him. The paramilitary got off the ferry and got onto a motorbike driven by a youngster. The vehicle continued his way up to the municipality of El Castillo. Fr. Enrique and the lay missionary sister went to make the proper report. Among the stolen things were: The ID card, Driver’s License, ecclesial licences, all the keys of the missionary house and of the church, and a sum of money in cash allocated to the missionary activities of Christmas. In the last months the number of violent deaths has increased. Among them are: * Killing of the president of the Municipal Council, on September 30. * Killing of the driver, on October 7. * Killing of a teacher in the Police Station of San Isidro del Ariari.
We demand that the competent authorities investigate these events and that the guilty persons be judged.
We demand that the Colombian Government persecute and dismantle the paramilitary groups that continue operating in this region. We demand that the Colombian Government protect the inhabitants of the region who travel by this road.
With indignation: Interecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace,
Claretian Missionaries- Medellín del Ariari
Claretian Commission of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Claretian Corporation Rorman Pérez Bello