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by ANNCOL Thursday, Aug. 01, 2002 at 11:40 PM

An account of what happened when units of the Colombian army, the police, DAS and the CTI, supported by helicopters, exploded over the hills of Medellin, killing nine people on May 21st.

The United States government, through Plan Colombia, is funding obscene military operations in Colombia designed to target and terrorise the defenceless population.

The US issued a blank cheque dated 11 September to all their client states to massacre their own people with US-supplied war machinery in the name of the so-called "war on terrorism" (translation: rooting out opposition to US neoliberal imperialism). Let’s not forget, the US has been shadowing and fuelling the Colombian conflict since it started 50 years ago – we’ve seen the "war on Communism", the "war on the Left" and we’ve seen the "war on drugs". What we need to see is the "war on State terrorism and whoever applies, promotes or assists it" and the "war on bullyboy meddling in sovereign states with ulterior economic and military motives".

In Rambo style on 21 May 2002, units of the army, the police, DAS and the CTI, supported by helicopters, exploded over the hills of Medellin, killing nine people, including two little girls aged 7 and 11, injuring 37 and detaining 55. The Attorney General and the Public Defender are investigating. The army are accusing people who helped the injured.

The tears of the relatives of the victims of the savage military operation carried out on Tuesday 21 May at three in the morning in the marginalised suburbs of Medellin’s District 13, a sector inhabited by around 40,000 people, have not stopped yet. They are weeping for their dead. On Thursday, a crowd of men, women and children, holding up Colombian flags and waving white handkerchiefs, came down the hills of the affected zone, a human beehive of asymmetrical brick houses, with roofs of zinc and shabby plastic tiles, scene of a battle that no one will ever forget.

Local schools joined in with the music. The march continued as far as the San Javier metro station. There were the pupils of the Barrio Las Independencias college who had seen two of their comrades die in the attack.

They were there to protest about the brutal and irresponsible way in which the operation had been carried out and to support a policy of negotiation and respect for the civilian population which had been so violated in the military operation.

NGOs, Attorney General and Public Defender Speak Out

On Thursday 23 May, Edgardo Maya Villazon, State Attorney General, announced that he would investigate the circumstances in which the so-called raid on FARC and ELN militias, which ended by harming the inhabitants of the zone, happened. He said that the behaviour of State security forces and officials involved in the operation would be looked into and that appropriate sanctions would be imposed if necessary. Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz, Public Defender, also took it upon himself to carry out a series of investigations into the event and condemned the fact that “the police and the army entered the streets of the suburbs of central-west Medellin with tanks and helicopters and that innocent people were killed in the fighting”.

Human rights organisations, including Redepaz, Planeta Paz and Comite por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos among others, also demanded an impartial and serious investigation and condemned the fact that helicopters had fired machine guns at the population. General Luis Ernesto Gilibert, for his part, denied the charges in spite of the injuries suffered by young people, women and children and the civilians who died in this insane military action.

The Public Defender strongly criticised the neglect by the State to which the population of these marginal suburbs, the children of war and displacement, had been subjected. ...

”Don’t shoot any more”, “Go away”, “We want peace” shouted children and young people waving flags they had made from white cloths stuck to wooden sticks as they ran down the hill to be in view of the press. Generals Mario Montoya Uribe, commander of the 4th Brigade, and Leonardo Gallego, commander of the Medellin Metropolitan Police, who led the operation did not listen to them. The rounds of machine gun and rifle fire continued, leaving a trail of blood in their wake and culminating in nine deaths. The shooting started at two in the morning and ended after midday.

There could have been more deaths

If people had not acted in solidarity to evacuate the injured, there could have been more dead. In spite of that, because of the barriers that the authorities had erected, some could not get to help in time and died as they ran. Those killed were totally defenceless. The body of Jorge Alexander Bustamente was sliced in two by the bullets. He was a young single man. The red berets discharged their adrenalin on the boy and continued to shoot him even after he was dead. The bullets also killed the beloved daughter-in-law of Marta Yanet Correa.

In the press they also talked of disappeared people, young men taken by force to the military tanks and thrown inside. Their whereabouts are still unknown. According to local witnesses, those who helped the injured are being accused of being guerrillas by the army.

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