False positives and Carnival

‘Colombia es pasión’ is the slogan they use to promote the country. When I am in a cynical mood, I add ‘para matar’. In short, Colombia is passion to kill. In this country people are killed because thy don’t want to hand over their cell phone to a thief. They are killed because they (supposedly) cooperate with the guerrilla, the army or the paramilitaries (Look at my post about the Awá). Or they are killed because they are poor.

I am still in Barranquilla to be in the Carnival and in the Batalla de Flores (Flower Battle) on Saturday. I am going to dance in the group Disfrázate como quieras (Dress up as you wish) in that Battle. Brought my flamenco clothes (I danced flamenco when I lived in Holland) and will be a flamenco dancer in my Dress Up As You Wish Group.

At the same time I am talking with four women who have lost siblings to one of the cruelest phenomenons I have known in this Colombian war: the falsos positivos, let’s call them false positives.

A positivo is the killing of an enemy – that means a guerrilla fighter – by the Colombian army. A falso positivo means that the killed person is presented as a guerrillero, which he in reality is not. He is killed because the military who kills him or has him killed will get credits.

The four women I have been talking with are poor. For them it is a lot of money to take a bus and go to the office where we met to talk.

Their husbands, sons or brothers were recruted to work in the cotton fields in the region of Cesar in the north east of Colombia. When they arrived they were killed by the army. The women were told they were a member of the FARC or the smaller guerrilla group ELN. Now they are moving heaven and earth to prove that that is not true.

While these women told me their stories I was thinking how absurd my life in this country sometimes is. I knew that in the evening I would be dancing at a party of my Dress Up As You Like Group. Indeed, and I had a lot of fun. And this evening there is a lovely concert with folklore singer Totó La Momposina. I am sure it will be packed with people.

But I keep thinking of these women. One of them, Estela, told me that she used to love Carnival and dress up and dance in many parades. Her son disappeared half a year ago and possibly is a false positive victim as well. This year she will not dress up.

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2 Responses to “False positives and Carnival”

  1. The heritage of a false positive « Wies Ubags Says:

    […] luckily. According to his wife, a brave short woman, who was left behind with three children, he was taken to some place by the army, tortured, killed and disappeared. If she hadn’t insisted and had gotten some help, from the Prosecutor’s Office and an NGO, she […]

  2. Plan Colombia and false positives « Wies Ubags Says:

    […] Plan Colombia and false positives By wiesubags Whether the government of Colombia likes it or not, the human rights issue will be important these years in the relation with the United States. First the problem of the false positives has to be solved before the American Senat can send 72 million dollar concerning military support (Plan Colombia) to Colombia, Patrick Leahy, influential Democrat, told Colombia’s daily El Tiempo. The Colombian army is seriously questioned for having killed innocent poors and afterwards telling they were guerrillas killed in a fight with the army (i.e. a false positive). […]

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