Sunday, 21 February 2010

Colombia: Relatives of 'False Positives' Speak Out

From the excellent magazine Cambio, which, sadly is apparently soon to lose its current investigative format, comes a video clip focusing on the female relatives of men killed in Colombia's conflict. The victims were so-called 'false positives' - young men dressed up to look like guerrillas and murdered to boost the 'success rate' of the armed forces' counterinsurgency drive. It's Spanish only but I have attempted to provide a transcript below - it's not perfect and you can see that I had difficulties understanding one of the interviewees in particular, so if you speak Spanish, watch the original, but English-only readers should be able to get a rough guide.

Jaqueline Castillo: My name is Jaqueline Castillo, I'm the sister of Jaime Castillo, who was disappeared on 12 August 2008.

Ana Paez: I'm the mum of Eduardo Garzon Paez, disappeared 4 March 2008.

Ana Cecilia Arenas: My name is Cecilia Arenas, I'm the sister of Mario Alexander Arenas, disappeared 2 January 2008.

Screen text: Stories of families of three of the 16 young people disappeared in Soacha and then presented by the Army as fallen combatants.
False positives

ACA: On this journey, this year, it's two years already, during which we haven't had any type of support, whether financial or regarding justice. Personally, I've realised that the public prosecutors [fiscales] aren't doing anything for us. I'm a bit pessimistic in this case.

JC: Really, the idea of justice in Colombia makes one nostalgic. There is evidence, there is strong evidence, which shows that the army really did kill all those people, and the fact that this isn't enough to get convictions, it's very sad.

AP: We're really tired of them taking us, bringing us, using us and in reality, we are exactly where we were on the first day [...] Why? Because we don't have any answers. We don't have protection, we don't have anything.


[..] I don't think it's fair that the police can say to us, "Come here, come here, now, or for three days" and what for? [...] When I get there, they say, don't come now. I don't accept protection from them.

ACA: We have been threatened. We feel threatened, we can't have a quiet life thinking that if we go out, we are frightened, thinking that they are planning something, we don't know if someone might be following us. We're often even frightened to use the phone, because we know that phones can be bugged, so we can't even talk on the phone in privacy.

AP: [...]

JC: Yes, our intention and that of most of the families is that there should not be impunity here and we will go to the international court if necessary. We have asked the court to take action in this case.

AP: We are going to ask them to help us abroad. Because I don't believe in it here - there's nothing here. When are they going to help us here? There's nothing, nothing. We want the truth. We want the names of those who did it to appear in the media, in the newspapers. This is what I want.

ACA: We are waiting for an answer from the International Criminal Court, because here, I don't believe they are going to take care of us and the best thing we can do is go elsewhere. Go and look outside the country and see what we can do.


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