Colombia Can’t Forget FARC Concentration Camps
We Colombians cannot allow the criminals, mutilators, rapists, and torturers to rewrite history such that they are “honorable senators.”
Spanish – He lived for 12 years with a chain around his neck. The wires of the cage blurred everything his eyes saw during that time. He even had to see the sky through the mesh that prevented him and his fellow police and military officers from escaping their torturers.
General Luis Herlindo Mendieta says it clearly. He and his fellow captives were locked up in concentration camps inspired by the ones built by the Nazis to torture Jewish people. The images of the corroded wooden bunks, where the heroes of the country tried for years -without any success, according to General Mendieta- to sleep, seem to be taken from a movie of the Second World War.
They were always sick; they always had stomach ailments. Their food was always of poor quality. They had to endure their illnesses with plastic jars and holes in the ground that served as bathrooms. A “bath” that was right next to where they slept because the chain on their neck did not let them move more than two miserable meters. That’s why the General says that the smells didn’t even let them sleep.
Without medicine, without even basic food, in terrifyingly unhealthy conditions, often knee-deep in water from the heavy rain of the Colombian jungle, they watched the years pass by through the mesh of the cage.
Today, those who managed to survive the Nazi experiment of the FARC and were rescued, see their torturers in Congress. General Mendieta acknowledges that he finds it difficult to see the FARC leaders legislating. “They are still criminals against humanity,” he says. He then recalls that they often begged the guerrillas to loosen the chain around their necks a little so that they could breathe well or eat without so much discomfort.
In what decent country do the perpetrators of such atrocities make the laws? Timochenko, the leader of the FARC, rightly said that Colombia’s “peace” agreement was unique to the country.
I have dedicated several articles to talk about the intention of the FARC to rewrite the history of Colombia and erase from the memory of the Colombians the atrocities they committed. I am convinced that a fundamental part of the battle to save the country is to remind, again and again, especially young people, what the FARC is, what they did for decades, and the danger they represent.
To that vociferous minority that claims that it is okay to have the worst killers in the history of Colombia in Congress, those young “rebels” who say that the FARC was nothing more than a reaction to a criminal state, they should sit down and listen to the words of General Mendieta and watch the videos of the concentration camps that the FARC guerrillas had.
Young people today do not remember, for example, that on January 24, 1994, FARC guerrillas killed 35 inhabitants of the La Chinita neighborhood in Apartadó, Antioquia, with M-60 machine guns (a weapon with a firing rate of 550 shots per minute).
Or that on May 2, 2002, in Bojayá, Chocó, the FARC threw a pipette into the church where mainly women and children, who believed that the miserable guerrillas would not dare to attack a church, were taking refuge. We don’t know exactly how many people were killed. Estimates suggest between 74 and 119 died, and around 100 were wounded. After the explosion, some managed to escape the fire while others were left wounded and injured, waiting for help for days.
The guerrillas only allowed relief agencies to come in and help the wounded only after 72 hours. The burial of the bodies took place without the presence of the relevant authorities; there was no official death scene investigation because the FARC had taken over the area and did not allow it. That is why it is not even clear how many people died in this incident.
Many will also not remember that on July 28, 2007, after being held hostage for five years, fighting for their lives and with the hope of returning to their families, the 11 deputies who were kidnapped from the Valle del Cauca Assembly building were killed in one of the FARC camps.
Also, on the long list of FARC crimes is the attack on the El Nogal Club in Bogotá. In 2003, a car bomb with 200 kilos of C-4 explosives destroyed three floors of the club. The now-congressmen killed 36 people and injured 200.
Those who now occupy ten seats in Congress are not rebels who made a mistake and should get a second chance today. They are criminals who acted incredibly viciously systematically. They are the sign of the rottenness of the most putrid scum a human being can become.
Their war tactics, their tricks to cause terror, and the sadism of their actions – against even thousands of children – have always left me wondering what kind of dark forces, what kind of evil and demons are behind the criminal group that today, has not only weapons and territories under its command but also political and legislative power.
In Colombia, there are more than 10,000 victims of the famous anti-personnel mines laid by the guerrillas and other drug traffickers to protect their illicit crops. Some of those victims died; others were left disabled. About 61% of the victims were members of the security forces, and the remaining 39% were civilians. What does this army of wounded heroes feel today when it sees its tormentors in Congress?
What about the children who were recruited? What about the girls who were raped and then forced to have abortions? There is no clear data on this, but according to the National Center for Historical Memory, the FARC recruited over eight million minors. Conservative estimates suggest that at least a thousand abortions were forced upon women who were raped.
A woman who was recruited as a minor, and who now has a son, the product of one of the many rapes she suffered in FARC, once told me, “I don’t know how I am going to tell my son, when he grows up, that those who raped me are in Congress today.”
The Attorney General’s Office estimates that there are about two thousand cases of FARC actions that fit into crimes against humanity, war crimes, and infringements of international humanitarian law.
I could spend days talking about FARC crimes. They are many and terrifying. I insist, what the FARC killers committed were not mistakes and bad decisions. These gentlemen are not like Navarro Wolf; their evil has no limits, and they continue to be the same.
The day a journalist asks Santrich if he is ready to apologize to the victims, and the ringleader mocks him by singing “maybe, maybe, maybe,” I remembered a story told by General Mendieta. One day they asked a guerrilla what was going to happen to them, what their future would be, and the guerrilla answered that the commander had sent word not to worry that he had rice to give them for eight years.
They are the same, with the same malice, with the same audacity.
The Jewish people do not forget their history, not because they are spiteful or “enemies of peace,” but because they know that justice must be rendered and that what happened must be remembered every day so that it does not happen again.
Just as the Jewish people honor their dead, tell their story wherever they go, and have museums to explain their tragedy to the world, we Colombians should have a museum for the victims of the FARC. We should tell young people about the atrocities committed for more than 50 years by what is now a political group. And we should also go to international institutions so that they know what is happening in our country and that if the guerrillas buy the Colombian justice system, it is the international justice system that will make them pay for their crimes against humanity.
The guerrillas know that what happened is not as important as what people remember. We Colombians cannot allow the criminals, mutilators, rapists, torturers to write a story in which they are “honorable senators.”