by Michele Braley
On May 7, CPT received a call from a mining community leader in Micoahumado reporting that the Colombian Army had put up a roadblock at the entrance to their community and was refusing to allow food or people to move in or out. The Army said they were searching for 32 people including two residents of the community it claimed were guerrilla supporters.
The Army is known to have used extrajudicial methods, including assassinations of civilians, in its hunt for suspected guerrillas.
CPTers traveled to the Micoahumado region May 10-15. In La Plaza, the county seat, they heard several reports that a unit of the Nueva Granada Battalion had prevented both food and people from passing between the town and the mining community for three days. In a mining community that has few of its own agricultural resources, several days without food deliveries has the potential to become more than just inconvenient. The tactic also instills fear in the community.
CPTers traveled by truck for one hour and by mule for three hours from La Plaza to the mining community. Along the route, they encountered a few soldiers scattered along the mule path and a dozen soldiers with hammocks strung in the trees making lunch in their camp.
Team members questioned the sergeant about the situation. He insisted the Army had blocked the road for only one day, May 7, because he understood the need for goods to get through.
In the mining community, CPTers spoke directly with a teacher who contradicted the sergeant's claim. He said that on May 9, the army still denied him entry into the town, confirming that the roadblock lasted three days.
When CPTers returned to La Plaza two days later, the Army was no longer camped on the path nor were they visible along the route. For now, the soldiers have moved on, but the uncertainty and fear lingers among members of the community.