|Aftermath of the El Salado massacre. (Photo: El Tiempo)|
|Pres. Juan Manuel Santos.|
Santos deserves credit for his statement, but it falls short. Overwhelming evidence shows that government forces often collaborated with the 'paras' or deliberately stood aside to let the paramilitary death squads do their killing. Generally, the paramilitary forces justified themselves by accusing residents of being disguised guerrillas or cooperating with the guerrillas. Meanwhile, the U.S. government, which has given lots of military aid to Colombia, appears to have turned a blind eye to Colombian military-paramilitary collaboration.
|Skeleton of en El Salado massacre victim.|
According to later investigations and confessions, the massacre was ordered by paramilitary leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, known as Jorge 40, who in turn was following the commands of top paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño.
As terrible as El Salado was, it was only one of innumerable massacres committed by the paramilitaries and their guerrilla enemies.
|Victims of one of the El Salado massacres. (Photo: CNRR.ORG.CO)|
|Memorial to the massacre. (Photo: CNRR.ORG.CO)|
In his recent apology, Pres. Santos also promised to heal the wounds and provide restitution to the community. That will be impossible, but at least the state is making an effort.
|Before the massacre: |
Children in a healthy community. (Photo: CNRR.ORG.CO)
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours