Colombia: Dignity and Memories of War – Enough is Enough
Colombia’s National Center for Historic Memory (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica) has submitted its General Report on Memory and Conflict to the president of Colombia. The report represents a new contribution towards understanding the origins and development of armed conflict in the country.
The report’s scope takes in more than 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia, revealing the extraordinary magnitude, ferocity and degradation of the war that was unleashed on the country and the serious consequences and impact that it has had on the civilian population. It is a war that is difficult to explain, not only because of its varying causes and drawn-out nature, but also because of its geographic extension, the changing involvement of multiple legal and illegal parties, and for the different character that the conflict took in different cities and different parts of the countryside, as well as the way it became entwined with the other conflicts going on in the country.
Given the scale and complexity involved in the task of clarifying the history and causes of the war in Colombia, the Historic Memory Group (GMH) chose to document representative case studies which serve to condense multiple processes and which stand out due to the nature of the events in question and the light they shed on the conflict. The GMH set out to use these case studies to analyze the diversity of the different groups and social sectors that fell victim to violence as well as of the perpetrators of this violence and the diverse nature of the violence itself in different regions of the country.
The case studies were completed through active consultation with the victims and their willing participation as both witnesses and investigators. They have been published, along with several themed reports, in a series of 24 books, which provide the basis of the general report. This offers interpretation and analysis of the research in an attempt to understand the logic, motives and experiences of the war and presents a thesis about its causes and mechanisms.
The authors of the report also consulted secondary sources such as local and national archives provided by various communities and organizations, court dossiers, media reports, extensive academic works on the subject of war and peace in Colombia and, in particular, the hundreds of witness statements provided by victims who wanted to be heard and recognized and wanted the truth of what happened to reach the ears of a society that often ignores or attempts to justify or rationalize their tragedy.