Colombia: President apologizes for massacres in 1996 and 1997


ColombiaThe president apologized for the massacres in 1996 and 1997

Colombian President Gustavo Pedro on Wednesday apologized to the victims of two massacres by paramilitaries in the late 1990s.

Colombian President Gustavo Pedro speaks during a press conference marking his first 100 days in office at the Nariño Presidential Palace on November 15, 2022 in Bogota.


“Today, as a representative of the Colombian government, I must apologize to the families of the victims and to the victims who can no longer be with us because they were killed by a murderous state,” said Gustavo Pedro. A public event in the northwestern city of Medellin.

About 100 kilometers away, in the municipality of Ituango, far-right paramilitaries massacred defenseless civilians in the villages of El Arrowo and La Granja in 1997 and 1996, respectively.

At the beginning of his speech, the president read the names of the 19 people killed in these events, for which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) held the Colombian government responsible in 2006. The two massacres took place over several days “with the consent and cooperation of members of the security forces,” the court said.

“Planned Destruction”

In El Arro, paramilitary forces accused villagers of collaborating with far-left guerrillas and tortured many in public. They burned most of the houses and forced many survivors to carry stolen livestock, according to a court ruling.

The court ordered a compensation of $10,000 to the families of the victims and an act of public recognition among other compensations.

The Colombian government “partially admitted responsibility” in court and paid compensation to victims several years ago, but until now has not publicly acknowledged responsibility for the massacres. “I want to thank you, President. Because after twenty-five years, until now there has not been a president who has focused on the victims”, announced Maria Oliva Calle, widow of Omar de Jesus Ortiz, killed in El Arro, at this Wednesday’s ceremony.

Gustavo Pedro, who took office in August as the first left-wing president in Colombia’s history, has in recent years tirelessly condemned, while in opposition, atrocities by paramilitaries, including security forces, local leaders and members. of Congress.

In his speech, President Pedro described the two massacres of El Arro and La Granja as “planned destruction to eliminate the enemy, because they considered the peasants the enemy.”


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