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Colombia: Ongoing Online Reactions to Mass Grave La Macarena

At the beginning of this year, El Nuevo Herald [es] reported on the discovery of a mass grave containing more than 2,000 unidentified corpses buried in the municipality La Macarena, located about 280 km (170 m) south of Bogotá, in the department of Meta, The bodies were allegedly taken there by the Army and identified as combat casualties. The mass grave was quickly referred to as “La Macarena” because of its location.

In Colombia, the discovery was announced on December 11, 2009 by newspaper El Espectador [es]. However, the news agency EFE released a report in February 2009, which was mostly ignored by Colombian mass media [es]. The international media eventually published the story as well; Spanish center-left daily Pú [es] echoed previous reports, and Constanza Vieira wrote a broad and disturbing overview for IPS [es]. Although the story was reported months ago, commentary on the mass grave and its implications continues to invade the Internet through blogs and social networks.

On Twitter, Javier Salazar (@F0405) shares a video [es] where, “Alvaro Uribe criticized [the] hearing for relatives of victims of mass graves.” Ángela (@Angelaaqui), with irony, quotes the phrase “continue as normal,” to refer to the attitude toward the mass grave and other security issues in Colombia. Edmundo Villarroel (@Evill24) writes:

en Colombia lo podrido no es la comida son las persona, miles de muertos encontrados en fosas comunes pero nadie habla de La Macarena

in Colombia what is rotten is not the food it is the people, thousands [of] dead [bodies] found in mass graves but no one talks about La Macarena

Echoing Edmundo's disappointment, Diana touches on the media's role in a post [es] for Indymedia Colombia titled,”The biggest mass grave in America (Exceeds [mass graves] of [former Chilean dictator] PINOCHET)”:

Los medios masivos trabajan sin descanso para desviar la atención y presentar la noticia maquillada restándole importancia.

The mass media are working hard to divert attention and present an embellished story downplaying its importance.

Azalea Robles also refers to the lack of media coverage in the site PCN Proceso de Comunidades negras de Colombia (PNC Process of Black Communities of Colombia), in her post [es], “The Largest Mass Grave in Latin America, Very Far from the Media”:

Fue gracias a la perseverancia de los familiares de desaparecidos y a la visita de una delegación de sindicalistas y parlamentarios británicos que investigaba la situación de derechos humanos en Colombia, en diciembre 2009, que se ha logrado destapar este horrendo crimen perpetrado por los agentes militares un Estado que les garantiza impunidad.

Thanks to the perseverance of the family members of the missing and the visit of a British delegation of union leaders and members of parliament investigating human rights in Colombia, in December 2009, this horrendous crime perpetrated by military agents in a State that grants them impunity was uncovered.

Cartoon by Tomáz Garzía, used with his permission. Dialogue: Man in red says, "Look William, a mass (or common) grave." Man in gray responds, "yes…common and ordinary""

On Yahoo! Answers, user El Necio answers the question, “What will happen to the biggest mass grave in Latin America found in Colombia?” with srong staments [es]:

Deberían a esta FOSA COMÚN ponerle un nombre en homenaje a sus creadores: FOSA COMÚN ALVARO URIBE-MANUEL SANTOS.
Y esto no es broma, esta fosa se encuentra ubicada en una base militar. Fue denunciada hace meses con la asistencia de diputados europeos, pero en su momento no se le dio mayor cobertura mediática. Se supone que en ella se encuentran muchos de los “falsos positivos” otro de los engendros creados por la política militar de Santos-Uribe.

They should give this MASS GRAVE a name that pays tribute to its creators: MASS GRAVE ALVARO URIBE-MANUEL SANTOS. [note: Manuel Santos was the Minister of Defense under President Uribe, and is now the new President of Colombia]
And it's not a joke, that mass grave is located in a military base. It was reported months ago with the attendance of European politicians, but at that time it didn't get major media coverage. Supposedly in the mass grave there are a lot of “false positives” another creation of the military policy of Santos-Uribe.

The site La Silla Vacía (The Empty Chair) tries to delve into the story behind the mass grave [es] in a post titled: “What is behind the ‘mass grave’ denounced by Piedad Córdoba?” Piedad Córdoba (@piedadcordoba) [es] is a Senator who as strongly condemned the mass grave. The post reads:

Organizaciones de Derechos Humanos como ASFADHES, MOVICE Y CINEP habían acumulado una serie de denuncias de las comunidades de la zona, sobre supuestas ejecuciones extrajudiciales, desapariciones y detenciones arbitrarias, entre 2003 y 2004, pero solo después de la publicación se comenzó a hablar de dos mil muertos enterrados en una fosa común.  En 2009, una delegación de organizaciones británicas estuvo en el lugar y en su informe dijo que habían corroborado la existencia de la fosa, aunque no suministraron ninguna prueba de ello. (…) El representante a la Cámara del Polo Democrático, Iván Cepeda, quien estuvo en la audiencia de la Macarena y ha hecho seguimiento al tema, dijo que en efecto el hallazgo ha sido de 449 cuerpos y que están enterrados individualmente en un terreno que fue anexado al cementerio y que colinda con la base militar.

Human Rights organizations like ASFADHES, MOVICE and CINEP have accumulated a series of complaints from the communities in the area, about alleged extrajudicial executions, disappearances and arbitrary arrests, between 2003 and 2004, but only after the publication they began to talk about the two thousand dead bodies buried in the mass grave. In 2009, a delegation of British organizations was in the place [of the mass grave] and in their report [they] say they had corroborated the existence of the mass grave, even though they did not provide any proof. (…) The representative of the Chamber of the Democratic Pole, Iván Cepeda, who was present in the hearing of La Macarena and has been following the issue, said that in effect the finding had been of 449 bodies that are buried individually in a terrain that was attached to the cemetery and that borders the military base.

User GRGJ defends former President Uribe [es] in the comments section of a cartoon by Tomáz Garzía in the site EquinoXio:

(…) todo el mundo sabe que la macarena es una zona guerrillera, y recuperada por el gobierno del gran ilustre por excelencia  Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Ex Presidente por excelencia.  La guerrilla ha matado centenares de personas inocentes, militares, policías, niños, ancianos (…).

(…) everyone knows that La Macarena is a guerrilla zone, and recovered by the government of the great Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, former president par excellence. The guerrilla has killed hundreds of innocent people, military, policemen, children, elderly (…)

In the blog 2Tutor Virtual, Carlos Gamboa shows his indignation and impotence through a poem, in a post [es] called, “Clamor in the Mountains of La Macarena”.

Abro la ventana
Y el olor a sangre se cuelga en las cortinas
Mientras afuera ríen.
¿Quién cerró los ojos de la noche
Bajo la piqueta furiosa de los días?
Cuerpo sin rostro, rostro sin cuerpo
Collage de destrucción en las llanuras.
Voz del viento gutural,
Si encuentras a tu paso algún vestigio
Dile al hombre que lloro su destino.

I open the window
And the smell of blood hangs from the curtains
While they laugh outside.
Who closed the night's eyes
Under the furious pickax of days?
Body without a face, face without a body
A collage of destruction in the plains.
Voice of the guttural wind,
If you find on your path any trace
Tell the man I cry about his destiny

Finally, Tomáz Garzía uses his creativity –and irony– in his blog Mundo Desgrafiado, presenting a bleak picture of the issue by using the Guinness World Records as a reference in his post [es], “Colombia debuts in a new Guinness Record: The largest mass grave in Latin America.”

Hasta hace unos meses, Colombia era para los extranjeros sinónimo de drogas y café, pero en ambas cosas nos superaron Brasil y Bolivia, respectivamente. Por eso, hay que agradecer al gobierno saliente procurar que Colombia fuera recordada por la comunidad internacional gracias a un novedoso, reciente y sorpresivo record: ser la sede de la fosa común más grande de la historia de Latinoamérica.

A few months ago, for foreigners Colombia was a synonym for drugs and coffee, but in both things we've been outdone by Brazil and Bolivia, respectively. That is why, we need to thank the outgoing government for ensuring that Colombia will be remembered by the international community thanks to a recent and surprising record: being the headquarters of the largest mass grave in the history of Latin America.
Post translated by Silvia Viñas


  • Catalina Ceballos

    Es una lástima que nos conozcan por todo lo malo. Parecemos en Colombia un país como Irán o Irak y que tal los suicidios en el metro de Medellín y de los homicidios? Porque nadie habla de los suicidios que pasan con frecuencia de gente que va al metro para matarse? Somos los vanguardistas del horror?

  • What is the ICC (International Criminal Court) doing about these crimes Colombia seems incapable or unwilling to investigate?

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