Colombian lawyer launches a book in the US about her defense of the guerrilla ‘Martín Sombra’

Colombian lawyer launches a book in the US about her defense of the guerrilla ‘Martín Sombra’
Colombian lawyer launches a book in the US about her defense of the guerrilla ‘Martín Sombra’

Lawyer Sondra Macollins Garvin launched this week in Miami, USA, ‘The Weight of the Shadow’, a book about her defense of ‘Martín Sombra’ after reviewing 200 hours of recordings and 15 years of reflections on the life of this former Colombian FARC guerrilla, according to what he said in an interview with EFE.

“When I took the case I was doing a master’s degree in Criminal Law, with a focus on the violation of international laws and human rights in extradition cases, from the beginning I knew it was perfect for my degree thesis,” the author recalled.

He said that at that time he was 35 years old and, although he knew that the process would be hardhe never thought it would change his life.

“It is impossible for society to heal if there is no empathy not only for the victims
, but for the perpetrators who acted due to extraordinary circumstances; what happened in this case,” he stressed.

“My intention with the work was to create just that, the awareness that many of those we call perpetrators were themselves victims. That can help a lot in the reconciliation process that the country continues to need so much,” he added.

The author denied that it is an “apology for crime” and considers that it is quite the opposite.. “It is simply a mirror of what the country was at that time and the story of a man, who since his childhood had no education, no opportunities, no context, beyond what the guerrilla offered him. And who, even so, , is dedicating the end of his life to telling his truths,” he stressed.

That man is Elí Mejía Mendoza, alias ‘Martín Sombra’, responsible for dozens of murders and organizing kidnappings, as well as the creation of guerrilla prisons where they kept kidnapped police, soldiers and politicians, which earned him the nickname ‘The Jailer’.

Macollins Garvin jumps in time between the moment he met the former Armed Forces guerrilla Revolutionaries of Colombia (Farc) and stories of their lives.

Their relationship is told like a documentary, with transcriptions of the recordings that he kept for a long time, and history is mixed with fiction, although the writer affirms that “everything” comes from the ex-guerrilla’s stories.

Includes context of the history of Colombia at that time. “I did an exhaustive job to confirm the real events, dates and more. Of course, there are parts of his story that are his and that are impossible to confirm,” she acknowledged.

According to the book, at the age of 10, Mejía lost his father in the same violent way. in which he had lost his mother years before, and remains in the custody of the iconic FARC leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez, alias ‘Tirofijo’

Anecdotes appear throughout the book, some tender, others surprising with characters like Pablo Escolar himself, among many others.

Additionally, explore the transit made by Mejía Mendoza and Macollins Garvin within the process of the Justice and Peace law, which since 2005 has facilitated the demobilization of paramilitaries and guerrillas.

He said that representing Martín Sombra had a high cost. “I earned the nickname ‘the iron lawyer’. People didn’t understand that it was pro bono, the pressure made the banks cancel my bank accounts, the harassment was strong. It was one of the reasons that made me leave the country,” he recalled.

Macollins Garvin, who today heads the LEYFY Foundation, an organization to support Latino immigrants in Orlando (Florida) and Bogotá, is also dedicated to writing.

“I am preparing a second book about another of my cases. It is that of a woman who, because she is the family of a drug trafficker was victimized all her life, she was even deprived of her freedom several times,” he revealed.

He also indicated his political aspirations to occupy the seat in the Colombian Congress to represent the diaspora.and also reach the Presidency of Colombia.

“I know the country in depth, from all its aspects and I am prepared to help heal, and lead it into the future,” he said.

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