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Colombia: The Massacres That Never Were

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

27 August 2020

Colombia is going through a spree of violence at the moment. Each dawn brings news of more murders of leaders and peasants and it also brings with it news of another massacre. The country looks on in disbelief at the massacres and crude attempts by the government to downplay the issue by changing the terminology stating that there are no massacres but rather collective murders.

It is a vile and insulting lie, but not as insulting as the words of Senator Iván Cepeda, who through his twitter account stated "President Duque received a country without massacres and after two years of not implementing the Peace Agreement, there have been 30, it is not just ineptitude but rather criminal negligence." Duque's government replied with figures and it is painful to acknowledge that the fool in the Nariño Palace is partly right. Under the Santos government (2010-2018) there were 189 massacres with a death toll of 877(1) ( a massacre being the murder of 4 or more people in the same event, place or time). Deaths which according to Cepeda don't exist.

The government's defence gets it right at least in terms of overall figures but ignores the intensity of the massacres in August and it not acceptable to say we are not doing as bad as under the Santos government. The massacres under Santos in no way justifies or explains those under the Duque government, just like the defence proffered when Santos was Uribe's Minister of Defence that the False Positives had always existed. What we have is one murderer pointing out that there is one who is even more bloodthirsty. But the question we should ask ourselves is not whether Santos is more of a murderer than Duque, it is all a question of degree, and who kills who is not the question, but rather why and what is the nature of the Colombian regime. But one question we should ask is why the future presidential candidate, currently a senator, Iván Cepeda lies.

And we should call it a lie, it is not a mistake. Iván Cepeda has shown throughout his career in Congress and his trajectory as a human rights defender, that he is not ignorant, nor a fool, he is a capable politician who knows this country like few politicians do. He didn't forget the massacres, nor is it the case that he was unaware of them, he decided to lie. There is a certain type of politician and also supposed human rights defender that likes to distort the reality of the conflict. For them the conflict started with Uribe, that Uribe invented the Convivir(2) when in reality they were invented by Cesar Gaviria (1990-1994) and his Minister for Defence, Rafael Pardo and that the decree was regulated and implemented by Samper (1994 - 1998). Of course, Uribe took advantage of it, but there are more people who bear responsibility for the crime of the Convivir. Also to these same people the conflict ended during the Santos government, especially during the peace process with the FARC. The statistics tell a different tale.

Iván Cepeda insults the memory of the victims of the massacres during Santos's two governments, falsifying history and denying facts. There was a lot of controversy when Duque nominated someone as the new director of the Centre for Historic Memory who denied the existence of the armed conflict. Now we have to ask why he didn't nominate Cepeda, he would have had the support of the left and he would have done a better job falsifying the truth of the conflict.

There is an explanation for this and it is that Cepeda is Santos' accomplice. He intervened like nobody else in the peace process, he justified it, including the agreement on victims. He needs to falsify the bloody history of the Santos' governments, as he supported Santos and took part in the whitewashing of his image. Now he needs to deny reality and the dead in order to justify that support. It is a new chapter in the peace process with the FARC that we can't even name or count Santos' victims.

I don't know how the families of the victims feel when Cepeda denies what happened to their relatives. I would ask Cepeda how would he feel if some denied the murder of his father, Senator Manuel Cepeda, if someone said that he died in a car accident and did not fall under the bullets of the state. How would you feel Iván? Eternal glory to the immolated Senator Manuel Cepeda, eternal ignominy to his son, Iván Cepeda.


(1) El Espectador (23/08/2020) Nunca se fueron las masacres: la defensa del gobierno a-del-gobierno/

(2) Rural security cooperatives that were set up to function as a legal cover for paramilitaries.

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