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COLOMBIA, The Genocidal Democracy

Behind the Stereotype Behind the Stereotype Human Rights in Colombia

Martes 13 de diciembre de 2005, por Javier Giraldo M. , S.J.

n the spring of 1986, I was invited by the Catholic Development Committee Against Hunger to take part in the Lenten celebration in France. Before I began to speak, I asked members of the audience what kind of images they associated with my country. Invariably, they associated Colombia with drugs, coffee, cyclists (the annual Tour de France bicycle race is held there) and volcanos (where the November 1985 tragedy of Armero took place, a small town in Colombia that was almost totally buried by an avalanche).

There is no doubt that drugs are the first thing that come to people’s minds when they think of Colombia. Some have attributed 80% of the world’s drug trade to the Colombian cartels. Although I think the problem has been somewhat blown out of proportion, given the fact that the clandestine nature of the business makes accurate estimates difficult to come by, there is no denying its magnitude. What is important is that this perspective has resulted in the false conclusion that violence in Colombia is linked to drug traffic. Is this simply a result of investigative laziness or are there other factors involved?

Consider the following. On January 30, 1993, a car bomb exploded on a downtown street in Bogota killing 20 people. Almost immediately, news of the bomb, which was attributed to drug traffickers, was circulated worldwide by international press agencies. During the same month of January, 1993, our human rights data bank registered 134 cases of political murder and 16 cases of enforced disappearance in the country.

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