Against violence and oblivion: The case of Colombia’s disappeared
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Uribe Alarcon, Maria Victoria
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The murders and massacres that have taken place in Colombia since 19801 have sought to consolidate territory and define borders between guerilla groups (the FARC, and the ELN), paramilitary groups (the AUC), and drug traffickers who have disputed the control of extensive tracts of Colombia’s territory.2 The country finds itself immersed in a confrontation in which the majority of those killed are civilians. It is dealing with an internal conflict whose methods of extermination are not only punitive but also preventative, and are directed against those who presumably are or could possibly become members of enemy factions. This is a war that annihilates many who are not a part of it; a “dirty war” in which anything goes, including forced disappearances, mutilation, torture, genocide, massacres, and extrajudicial executions. One of the most common procedures utilized to dispose of unwanted bodies and erase any evidence has been to throw the corpses into Colombia’s rivers, a custom that has been practiced in the country for several decades. Major river arteries such as the Cauca and Magdalena, both running in a south-north direction, have been truly converted into moving cemeteries for unidentified bodies, which are known in Colombia by the abbreviation NN. These are letters of infamy, pain, and oblivion.
Armed Group , Medicina Legal , Guerilla group , Peasant worker , Paramilitary group