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Colombia: The murder of Narciso Beleño

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

26 April 2024

Narciso Beleño

On the 21st of April as he reached his house paramilitaries murdered Narciso Beleño the leader in Southern Bolívar, Colombia, just two years after the murder of two other leaders Teo Acuña and Jorge Tafur.

I knew Narciso Beleño.  Our paths crossed many times, on occasion on literal paths in the countryside as Narciso travelled the country in his struggle to defend rural communities in Colombia.  But I don’t want to talk too much about Narciso, the person, as there are others who can pay greater tribute to him in that regard, though his name always made me curious: Narciso (Narcissus).  Narcissus was a figure in Greek/Roman mythology who as a punishment from the gods fell in love with his own reflection.  It is where we get the word narcissist from.  But unlike the Greek/Roman figure, our Narciso was kind, caring, generous and selfless.  There are thousands of people, whole communities that can testify to his qualities as a person, a fighter and a leader.

When he was murdered the president, Gustavo Petro tweeted that “we failed Narciso”.  But who failed Narciso? The communities? His comrades in Fedeagromisbol? Or were they the youths from the Front Line who are still in jail?  Tell us who!  A generic We doesn’t do it, it is a lie.  He should explain who failed him, how and why and Petro should also tell us what he intends to do prevent there being more murders of leaders.

Once upon a time we never doubted to putting a name and surname to the matter.  We didn’t hesitate in naming the company, the board of directors, the landlord, the local politician.  Sometimes we even ran the risk of putting a name and military rank to the affair.  A long time ago a gradual process began whereby some stopped naming them.  And now under the Petro government it is not well thought to name them.  Once upon a time we all named Fedegan, the cattle ranchers’ association, as backing the paramilitaries.  The Fedegan functionaries even acknowledged this.  Now one of the representatives of that association, which is currently involved in refounding paramilitary structures, represents the state in the dialogues with the ELN.

Once upon a time we named the mining companies that have been trying for decades to take control of the gold in Southern Bolivar and other regions.  It is worth remembering that Narciso travelled the country.  More than one mining company had it in for him.

In Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, evil and magic lose their power over mortals when they are named by their real name and so the best kept secret is their real name.  In real life something similar happens.  Paramilitaries as something dark, shadowy and hidden defeats us.  When we name those behind this black magic with their real names, it begins to lose its power over us.  They are not unknown to us.  We withdraw cash from their ATMs every day, we purchase their services, we drink their products, we work in their companies and the odd eejit votes for them.  No company will say, buy my product we are the murderers of social leaders or vote for me, I have murdered thousands.  They hide this for a reason and for that same reason we should expose their dark souls to the light of day.

The best tribute Petro can pay is to explain who failed and name the murderers just like he used to do before he was president.  They are the usual suspects.  Petro likes to say he governs but does not have power.  Well, tell us who holds that power that he don’t have, with names and surnames, economic group, foreign company.  If we all failed, then nobody failed, if he was murdered by those who cannot be named, then nobody murdered him.  We usen’t to hesitate in talking about paramilitaries, the economic and political interests and reasons behind their actions.  We named the business associations, the megaprojects in each region, we proved it.  Some sought justice in international tribunals, others in Russell style tribunals of opinion.  We have to pay tribute to Narciso and other victims of the paramilitaries and name the murderers.  Uribe tried to fool us with the Bacrim (Criminal Gang) euphemism.  Neither Gulf Clan or anything else.  The same ones who disappeared Edgar Quiroga and Gildardo Fuentes in 1999 (in Southern Bolívar) murdered Narciso 25 years later.  Say it loud and clear Mr. President.

Hasta siempre Narciso!

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