Jesús Emilio Tuberquia is a leader of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community in Urabá, northwest Colombia. The Urabá region has lived a bloody recent history – a history that is yet to reach its end. It is a heavily militarised zone with a strong presence from guerrilla, army and paramilitary forces. Urabá acted as the launch pad for the savage paramilitary expansion across Colombia in 1997. In February 2005 the Peace Community suffered a now infamous massacre in which paramiltary forces combined with the Colombian army to brutally murder 8 civilians, including several children.
The Peace Community, set up in 1997, seeks to create a zone for the civilian population of San Jose de Apartadó to live in peace. It maintains complete neutrality in the conflict and prohibits the presence of any armed group inside its territory. However, as is often the case in Colombia, this neutrality has not saved the community from the conflict. It has on the contrary led to their stigmatisation and continued persecution. Neutrality is stigmatised by those whose interests are served by following the War on Terror "with us or against us" logic. The community has been victim to a prolonged campaign seeking to accuse its members of guerrilla collaboration. Using made up declarations from supposed ex-guerrilla combatants, government officials and even the ex-President have made false accusations against the community in attempts to damage its image and legitimise the horrific persecution against its members.
In just August last year another member of the community was killed. Over 180 have been killed since 1997.
In this video Adam Isaacson from the US-based organisation Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) speaks with Jesús Emilio Tuberquia during his trip to Washington in October 2010.
For more information on the massacre at San José de Apartadó, go to this Verdad Abierta page (Spanish).