The horror of “chop houses” surfaces once more

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 15 January 2015

"We will never forget"

Paramilitary violence in Colombia has often gone way beyond the imaginable. Numerous demobilised paramilitary soldiers have reported how they used extreme violence as part of a deliberate strategy to gain control over communities. This strategy has been seen most recently in the port town of Buenaventura – Colombia’s most important port and also the focus of free trade related expansion.

In 2013 local residents began reporting the existence of houses being used by paramilitaries for the sole purpose of chopping up their victims, whilst still alive. The practice continued in 2014 with at least 13 killed in this way throughout the year. There was a strong reaction from the local community who set up a humanitarian zone with presence from human rights observers to protect themselves from armed actors and destroyed one of the old so called “chop houses”. In June 2014, Justice for Colombia took a delegation to visit the humanitarian zone, and the Guardian journalist Seumas Milne wrote about the international connection.

But shockingly, at the start of 2015 news has surfaced of two new cases. The dismembered bodies of Leonardo Casierra and Jonathan Suarez were found together in an unmarked grave on Monday 12 January. This comes just weeks after the body of the 21 year old Eider Ceron was found in a similar state on Boxing Day.

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