Colombia’s Disappeared:

by Alfredo Castro

Bogota. The number of people being forcibly disappeared in Colombia each year is rapidly increasing and according to a local human rights organisation state sponsored forces, both official and unofficial, are responsible for over 99% of the cases.

New statistics released by the Colombian Association of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared — known as ASFADDES — show that last year some 1,283 people were taken away and have not been seen since. ASFADDES says that three of these people were disappeared by rebel groups while the remainder of the cases can be blamed predominantly on paramilitary and other state agents such as the army and police.

The average daily rate of disappearances in Colombia has increased from three to four over the past few years according to Gladys Avila Fonseca, the national coordinator of ASFADDES. Avila herself lost her brother Eduardo when he disappeared off a street in Bogota on April 20th 1993. Four days later, however, he was found dead outside the city having been severely tortured and since then she has dedicated her life to the cause of truth, justice and reparation at ASFADDES.

The statistics ASFADDES released show that between 1994 and 2001 there were 3,413 forced disappearances in Colombia. Gladys Avila also explained that ASFADDES has no way of knowing the true number of cases as their statistics only include those instances in which the family or friends of the victim denounce the crime, and that on many occasions, because of fear of reprisals, people stay silent.

ASFADDES also released details of the recent disappearance of Alvaro Sanchez Rojas on the outskirts of Bogota whom witnesses say was taken away by a group made up of paramilitaries and members of the "Rincon Quinonez" Battalion of the Colombian Army.

Regarding the problem of forced displacement a second local NGO, the Colombian Commission of Jurists, announced that the numbers now being forced from their land in Colombia had increased to approximately 1,000 people per day. Experts say that the phenomenon is largely caused by counterinsurgency strategies — devised by the Pentagon in Vietnam and now implemented in Colombia — that call for people to be forcibly shifted from rural areas in an attempt to deprive guerrilla organisations of civilian support networks in the countryside.

According to the director of the Commission, Gustavo Gallon, "the increase in numbers and the territorial expansion of the problem of displacement during the Pastrana [the Colombian President] administration has been massive, with more than 1 million people being forced from their homes and land during his time in power — including 90,000 in the first few months of this year alone".

This article originally appeared in ANNCOL, the news agency of the new Colombia.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”