22 years after the Bojayá massacre: the governor of Chocó spoke of the pain that endures

22 years after the Bojayá massacre: the governor of Chocó spoke of the pain that endures
22 years after the Bojayá massacre: the governor of Chocó spoke of the pain that endures

Twenty-two years after the Bojayá massacre, the memory of the tragedy still looms over this remote region of Chocó – credit AFP

The memory of the tragedy still persists in Bojayá, a remote corner of Chocó, where on May 2, 2002, horror took over that place. This is how 22 years have passed since the attack perpetrated by the 58th front of the Northwest Block of the Farc-EP that claimed the lives of 74 people after the explosion of a cylinder bomb.

A group of paramilitaries, crossing the waters of the Atrato River in several boats, arrived at the towns of Vigía del Fuerte and Bojayá, two regions located on the opposite banks of this mighty tributary. This strategic place was traditionally controlled by the FARC guerrilla.. But the paramilitaries easily bypassed army checkpoints and checkpoints, as revealed by a United Nations investigation.

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Clashes between the 58th front of the FARC and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) broke out on May 1 in Vigía del Fuerte, quickly spreading to Bojayá. The inhabitants, who sought refuge, gathered in sacred places such as the church, the house of the Augustinian Missionaries and the priest’s house; However, even these sanctuaries were not respected.

The guerrillas used mortars adapted to launch gas pipettes loaded with explosives and shrapnel. One of those pipettes, launched around 10:30 at night, pierced the roof of the church, where nearly 300 people were sheltering.

The toll of this massacre was devastating: 79 people perished in the church, including 41 women and 38 men, most of them under 18 years of age. Two babies lost their lives in their mothers’ wombs, while another was born and died in the middle of the events. In addition, 13 other people lost their lives violently before or after the attack.

In Bojayá, the twenty-second anniversary of the massacre is a grim reminder that peace has not yet fully come to this forgotten land – credit Universidad Nacional

The tragedy triggered a mass exodus. Most of the inhabitants fled to Vigía del Fuerte or the departmental capital, Quibdó. In May 2002 alone, an estimated 5,771 people left Bojayá and its surrounding areas in search of safety and refuge.

Four months later, the gradual return began, accompanied by chaotic and disorganized government aid. Despite the tragedy, the government and the military rejected the investigation carried out by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights into the events.

Given the memory of the episode in Colombia, the governor of Chocó, Nubia Carolina Córdoba, spoke of the memory of those days. In a statement, she highlighted that the territory continues to be marked by the presence of anti-personnel mines and violence that does not let up. “It is not a closed chapter,” he claimed.

In the words of the governor, “the fact that today the territory is mined, the fact that today the communities that are part of the areas bordering the Bojayá River are settled, and the violence that continues to plague our territory due to of the same presence of the groups.”

The commemoration of these 22 years of the Bojayá massacre coincides with the current reality of Chocó. According to the governor, around 50 thousand people are confined in the midst of the conflict that persists in the region. The clashes between the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the FARC dissidents have claimed the lives of innocent civilians, young people who, as the governor laments, “had no criminal record” and fell victims to anti-personnel mines in the municipality of Sipí.

Governor Carolina Córdoba spoke about the importance of honoring the memory of the victims and strengthening education in the region – credit Colprensa

The governor emphasized that these activities will be focused on honoring the memory of the victims and strengthening education in the region. Among the planned events, the launch of the “Sounds for Peace” program stands out, a symbolic act that seeks to remember the victims and promote non-repetition and non-forgetting.

Meanwhile, Senator María Fernanda Cabal, of the Democratic Center party, used social networks to remember the massacre and condemn the impunity of the perpetrators. In a message, she mourned the loss of more than 70 civilians, including children, and criticized the impunity that still prevails among terrorists.

However, the memory of the massacre also served as a starting point for political reflections. Senator María Fernanda Cabal, of the Democratic Center party, used her social networks to remember the event and condemn those responsible.

In his message, he regretted the impunity that, in his opinion, still prevails among the members of the FARC dissidents involved in the attack. “Today terrorists remain unpunished”wrote.

Senator María Fernanda Cabal recalled the Bojayá massacre and condemned the impunity that still prevails among those responsible – credit @MariaFdaCabal/X

 
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