Colombia: Slain a woman and a teenager from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

On March 19, a woman and a teen-aged boy from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó were killed in Colombia. The victims are Nayeli Sepulveda, 30, and Edison David, 15, wife and brother, respectively of a leader of the Peace Community. The double homicide was carried out with gunfire near the La Esperanza village in the province of Antioquia.

The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó is one of the featured experiences of EoF. Two young farmers from the San José region, 27-year-old Sayda Yadis Arteaga Guerra and 31-year-old José Roviro Lopez Rivera, had participated in a plenary session of the global event held in Assisi in September 2022 entitled “The only just war is the one we are not fighting.” Sayda and Jose had moved the entire theater with the cry of pain of their country, torn apart by decades of war and injustice. By the end of their speech, all 1,000 young people were on their feet, and a very long applause accompanied and supported those words full of hope and commitment: ‘Let’s go forward together, even if it costs death.’ Indeed, it came for two of them.

During the Angelus on Palm Sunday, March 24, Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the community of San José de Apartado in Colombia: an example of commitment to the economy of solidarity, peace, and human rights.

To express deep sorrow, we share their press release and cry for peace:
«For the last two weeks, we from Operazione Colomba were present as international observers in the village of La Esperanza, due to the recent attacks. I left the village the day before the massacre,» explains Monica Puto, a member of Operazione Colomba, which is the nonviolent peace corps of the Community of Don Benzi.

«The Peace Community had recently suffered several attacks: – Puto continued – intrusions in the land of the private property of Las Delicias, inside the village, material damage to their property, threats, slander to discredit the peaceful resistance they have been carrying out for 27 years to protect their land from large mining projects. The municipality of Apartadó, the local authorities and the national government were aware of what was happening before the massacre.»

«We call for an immediate halt to this escalation of violence that is affecting those on the front lines who are striving to create a peaceful future for their country», Monica Puto concludes.

Since 1997, more than 300 people have been murdered in the Peace Community. Although human rights violations have never stopped, no such massacre has occurred since 2005. After the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016, the Peace Community has continued to denounce the strong presence of paramilitary groups in the area.

Operazione Colomba, the Peace Corps of the Papa Giovanni XXIII Community, founded by Don Oreste Benzi, has been in Colombia since 2009 to provide protection and accompaniment to people affected by the conflict.

[Watch again the story of Sayda Yadis Arteaga Guerra and José Roviro Lopez Rivera – from minute 1:38:49]