Monday, September 5, 2011

Surviving jungle captivity, to die on a Bogotá street

Dominguez funeral (Photo: El Tiempo)
Soldier William Dominguez's story is one of the most tragic and, above all, ironic, which I've read in a long time.

Dominguez was a young soldier carried off by the FARC guerrillas in Jan. 2007 during a battle. A bullet wound in his shoulder healed imperfectly, hurting him during his two years of jungle captivity, during which he and others were often chained by their necks and forced to make long marches thru the jungle.

Dominguez after liberation.
But after the FARC released him and three others in Feb. 2009, Dominguez impressed all Colombia by emerging from captivity literally singing a song: 'Como nos cambia la vida' (How our life changes), which he'd composed in the jungle. (He was forced to leave behind a notebook containing other songs he'd written.)

Dominguez even sang his song to then-Pres. Alvaro Uribe with passion, even if nobody could mistake him for Frank Sinatra.

However, back in freedom in Bogotá, this young soldier and father fell into a new kind of captivity: drug dependancy. That complicated his life, he left the military, fell in with the wrong crowd and a few days ago he was found shot to death on a Bogotá streetcorner, aged 25.

I suppose that Dominguez's tragedy tells a lot about human frailty, but it also about the FARC's insane war, which does nothing but ruin lives. Undoubtedly, the emotional and psychological scars this man suffered in captivity made him particularly vulnerable to chemical dependency.

Dominguez's mother is demanding justice for her son's death, which is certainly justified. But the guilt goes far beyond whoever shot him down, probably over an unpaid debt (neighbors said that that day he'd been trying to sell his daughter's clothing in local stores), to the dealers who sold him drugs, to the FARC who scarred his life (and may even have trafficked the drugs which entrapped him) and even to the military and society, which could do more to control firearms and support troubled veterans.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: