Category: Colombia

A Search for Justice

In 2004, when I left Harvard and last saw you, I thought I would never learn the truth of what exactly happened to Carlos Horacio in the horrendous holocaust of the Palace of Justice in Bogotá. Yet fate was holding a tremendous surprise for my daughters and me, filled with…

Democracy, Citizenship and Commemoration in Colombia

Military detachments costumed in the historical uniforms of the patriotic army journeyed on foot, by mule and on horseback on a long journey promoted as the Liberty Route to celebrate Colombia’s bicentennial. The media showed the inhabitants of different towns of the country celebrating the arrival of the marchers, fulfilling their own role in this polemic recreation of the official stories about national independence. …

Memory: The Alchemy of Narrative

Six-year-old Ana peeks out of a keyhole onto her middle-class Bogotá street even though her parents had forbidden her to do so. It is Friday, April 9, 1948, and popular presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán has been assassinated, an event that triggered an era of unprecedented collective fury and intense social violence in Colombia known as La Violencia (1948-66). …

Prospects of Peace: Sharing Historical Memory in Colombia

It certainly sounded glamorous at the time—and even might sound so today. In October 1981, I flew from Berkeley, California, where I had been visiting, to attend an academic conference at Yale University on political scenarios under the Chilean dictatorship. I had an airline ticket in my pocket to take me, after the conference, to Lund, Sweden. So far so good, except that the student visa I had received …

Liquid Tombs for Colombia’s Disappeared: Sounds and Images

Colombia has been a country with amnesia for a long time. The country has been at war—a social catastrophe since 1948, sparked by the murder of the revered liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. Although his death took place in Bogotá, during the following 16 years Liberals and Conservatives waged a war mostly in the countryside that took 250,000 lives. …

The Language of Public Memory: La Asociación Minga and the Authentic Image of the Victim

A green midsized Renault sedan sits on a ramp lifting the car´s open hood and revealing an engine stuffed with palm seeds. Entitled Renault 12, the piece is part of an exhibit Somos Tierra developed as a result of a large group dialogue. In a series of workshops that discussed the death of young taxi drivers, the arrival of the palm cultivation in the region, and massacres, the exhibit came into being …

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