Monday, September 21, 2009

Colombia Journal: Exorcising the Ghosts of Paramilitary Violence: Reclaiming Liberty in Libertad

Here is the latest article from Colombia Journal, something very much worth reading as President Alvaro Uribe prepares to visit NYC on yet another lobbying ambush:

Exorcising the Ghosts of Paramilitary Violence: Reclaiming Liberty in Libertad

By Garry Leech

Marco Tulio Pérez arrived in the remote Afro-Colombian community of Libertad in 2000. One of his first acts was to organize a beauty pageant for local girls between 15 and 18 years of age. But this pageant was to be much more than just another example of a community engaging in one of Colombia’s favorite pastimes because Pérez, also known as “el Oso” (the Bear), was the new leader of the right-wing paramilitaries in Libertad. The “prize” for the 15 highest-ranking girls in the pageant was a two-week stay on the small farm that the Bear and his troops had commandeered for their living quarters. The mass rape that occurred during that two weeks signified the beginning of a brutal four-year siege that the residents of Libertad would be forced to endure at the hands of the paramilitaries. It is a violent legacy that the community is now struggling to overcome.

Read the full article at: http://colombiajournal.org/colombia316.htm