Colombia: 13 Years Since the Assassination of Jaime Garzón

Jaime Garzón, a Colombian lawyer, journalist, comedian, teacher, pacifist, political scientist, sociologist, activist, and critic, won the hearts of his countrymen via various television and radio programs where he expressed, prolifically and with great vision and foresight [es], the daily happenings of the country.

Garzón was murdered on the 13 August, 1999, allegedly by paramilitary and high-ranking military officers [es] including a former director [es] of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS). Colombians remember him [es] on every anniversary [es] of his assassination.

More recently, with the growth of citizen media, each year his name [es] once again appears among the locally trending topics on Twitter, and blogs renew their outcry at the impunity of his assassination – just as La Pastusita does in her post “Lo mismo que antes” [es] (The Same as Before).

Lab Social Blog criticizes Colombians for having become desensitized to death and reflects [es] on the indifference and the impunity surrounding Garzón's murder:

"Sin Olvido Jaime Garzón" (Remembering Jaime Garzón). Photo of Flicker user Gert Steenssens, under license from Creative Commons

“Sin Olvido Jaime Garzón” (Remembering Jaime Garzón). Photo of Flicker user Gert Steenssens, under license from Creative Commons

Pasan los días, los años y solo contamos de forma repetitiva en los diarios que ha pasado un año más de impunidad y que aún no se desenmascaran los verdaderos autores de los grandes magnicidios de nuestro país.

Days and years go by and we only comment over an over in our newspapers about how one more year has passed with Jaime's death going unpunished, and that still the true authors of the most significant assassinations that have happened in our country cannot be revealed.

In her blog “Thinking Without Side-effects,” Rosa Cristina pays homage to Garzón [es] and remembers many of his contributions, among them, his effort to help raise the consciousness of a better country:

Jaime se esforzó al máximo y de todas las formas que tuvo a su alcance, por despertarnos, por puyarnos para que nos moviéramos por impulsarnos a ser conscientes a ser actores de nuestro presente y futuro.

Jaime gave his greatest efforts and used all the means that he had within his power to wake us up, to prod us to take action, to drive us to be conscious and to be actors in our present and future.

The author of the blog Proyecto D, who calls himself “Zorro del Desierto”, calls for the building of a better country [es] by following the legacy of Garzón:

Garzón creía en la vida, creía en las instituciones, en la Constitución del 91, a pesar de todo creía en una nueva Colombia, creía en que esto se podía mejorar. El mejor homenaje que se le puede hacer hoy a Jaime, a todas esas víctimas anónimas, es el de hacer posible esa patria mejor, porque haciendo ese homenaje, a ese personaje que era Garzón en realidad estamos construyendo también Patria, democracia, o como sea que se llamen esas cosas, “tener un país, mínimamente más agradable”.

Garzón believed in life, believed in institutions, believed in the Columbian Constitution of 1991, in spite of everything, he believed in a new Colombia and he believed that things could be better. The greatest tribute that we could give to Jaime today, and to all of those anonymous victims, is to make this better country possible, because if we pay this homage to the man who was Garzón, we really will be building our Country, our Democracy, or however you want to call this idea of “having a country that is marginally better”.

Olga Lucía Lozano in La Silla Vacía also pays tribute to Garzón by publishing the “Garzonpedia” [es] with thirteen of his famous quotes. Lozano finishes with a quotation from Garzón that Catalina Arbeláez also shares on her blog [es]:

En este país, el Estado existe o no existe. Existe para cobrarle a uno impuestos, IVA, valorización; pero no existe para darme seguridad social, empleo, seguro social, seguro médico, nada. Ahí no existe el Estado.

In this country, the State either exists, or doesn't exist. It exists to make you pay taxes; VAT, capital gains taxes; but it doesn't exist to give me social security, work, medical care – nothing. In those instances, the State doesn't exist.

Others have remembered Garzón by republishing articles [es] that the mainstream media has published, or sharing videos on YouTube.

His memory and legacy live on in the hearts of those Colombians who continue to remember him and call for justice in his case.

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