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#4 2012
5 min read

A brief report on a country at war

Attempted assassinations, forced disappearances and death threats are a part of everyday life in Colombia. The country is known for its political trials. At the moment there are 7,000 political prisoners serving long sentences in overcrowded prisons. Angye Gaona, thirty-two-year-old Colombian poet, journalist and human rights defender, can once again be one of them. She was arrested in January 2011 on her way back from a trip to Venezuela. She is on trial for “aggravated conspiracy for drug trafficking and rebellion”.

Credits Text: Angye Gaona Translation from Spanish: Michel Vale April 17 2012

“As we are living now, we burn our hands on harps”

César Dávila Andrade

A mountain in flames

Our red glow reveals the skeleton of a tree,

Witness to slaughter

The sky a flame for centuries

since childhood we have watched it burning

I learned about death at age seven. It was 1987, and on the TV it was announced that Jaime Pardo Leal had been assasinated. I loved this nice man—he seemed to be always in a good mood and had an honest look. This was very rare to see. And he always emerged enveloped in lemon yellow streamers, my favourite colour. Some time later I learned that this truly special person had been the presidential candidate for the UP (Patriotic Union), a political party 3000 of whose members had been selectively murdered over the course of time.


The dust of ages

pervading, clogging the senses,

triumphs over subdued voices

In time it covers everything

It sess no one,

It feels for no one

It believes it smothers, petrfies, subdues all tongues,

The ever recurrent dust,

They broke the first words, it is said

And they did do it,

Remembered by no one,

Devoured by all.

Even commercial movies have exposed Capital’s stragtegy for the usurpation of rich lands by blood and fire. There are some areas of the country where it was even impossible to have an honourable burial. Columbia’s problem is its wealth. There is gold everywhere and foreigners are constantly finding it with the help of some the native-born. In the last few governments the two groups did business with one another over the land, the subsoil, and the waters. Anything that moves on the surface isset to be displaced or eliminated. The people are resisting.


He who dares enter the cave

Is consecrated in the flame from

Which comes love.

He who enters the stone

Will know the ages of the dream

Dreamed by the Great Bear in the

Starry Heights

In the night a bear of fire seeks the honey of the \world.

The sweet manna

The incorruptible

Is not there for the few

Sweet is the arm of the bear

A great green family surrounds it

A truth transparently shines through in the looks of the peasants of this land of few wise men: they know. The old ones departing have not forgotten the road to dignity, nor willl they ever forget it. Meanwhile they live out their lives in the dereliction present at every level of existence. Without even the minimum for survival, millions of persons await death abandoned to hunger, prostiution and spiritual devastation. The old one brandish their imaginary swords, their firearms from interminable wars to keep the air clean and and keep the faith.


A word denuded,

Without hands,


A dead word

The word executed beyond meaning

Disappeared in the full light of day.

The word tossed into a well of silence alone tells the the story of a country’s history

Without the perversion of statistics tracing the face of impunity is a complicated undertaking. The blanket of infamy that covers criminal putrefaction is stiched togetherout of remnants from the entire Apparatus. There are only a few who recognise the effect of the horror of everyday life, of language, of customs. There are even fewer who keep the measure of the dictatorship over existence. Almost no one could publically identify the faces and names of the oppressors. Confusion, chaos, and indolence are sown and are growing as an integral part of the web of impunity. The days of justice are far, very far away.


Angye Gaona, poet, cultural worker and student, is on trial for “aggravated conspiracy for drug trafficking and rebellion”. She was arrested on 13 January 2011 and was released on bail on 21 May, three days after the maximum 90-day period during which she could be legally held without charge. At the time of her release, the charges against Gaona had not yet been formalised and the prosecution had yet to present any evidence against her.

Gaona denies the charges and maintains that the case against her is a set-up and is due to her leftwing sympathies. She says she was not interrogated even once during her three months’ detention. Gaona’s supporters claim the real reason for her arrest is her outspoken support for the demands of a labour union in the district where she lives. The arrests reportedly took place in the context of a wave of attacks against human rights defenders, including attempted assassinations and forced disappearances and death threats, and against informal economy workers affiliated to the Colombian Trades Union Congress in Bucaramanga. It is feared that the arrests are intended to silence their legitimate human rights activism.

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