As Violence Rises, Can Colombia’s Peace Endure?

by James Patrick Jordan (originally published in LookLeft)

Colombia and numbers have their own special relationship. On one of my first visits there, I consulted a map and estimated the place I wanted to go was only around 300 kilometers away. I did not consider the two Andean corridors we would cross, nor the big rockslide we would encounter. A journey I expected to take a few hours required all day and night.

My partner, Raquel Mogollón, recorded testimony from a five-year-old girl in a farming community in the Department of Tolima. Her father had been killed by members of the Colombian Army who then dressed his corpse in insurgent garb. He was another of the “false positives”, young men and women murdered by soldiers and claimed as enemy combatants killed in battle. She described how soldiers subsequently came to her village in helicopters to arrest her grandfather.

You see, that’s the thing about numbers and Colombia. The scale on my roadmap told me a centimeter equals 20 kilometers, but it left out the steep and narrow mountain roads. A little girl can tell you she’s all of five years old, but that tells you little of the adult-sized scars she carries.

As I write this article, I consult the Indepaz list of victims of political killings of social leaders, human rights defenders, and former insurgents. The list is maintained in cooperation with the Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March), one of Colombia’s largest popular movements for a just peace, one we at the Alliance for Global Justice have multiple connections with. I trust these sources to be in touch with the most grassroots of the grassroots. They list 292 victims in 2020 as of October 16, the 290th day of the year. They list 970 victims between the end of November 2016 and July 15, 2020.

But is everyone accounted for? Click here to read entire article…