Friday, November 22, 2013

Colombia's Many Martyrs

Supporters with the corpse of leftist politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, assassinated in central Bogotá on April 9, 1948. 
The 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy seems like an appropriate time to recall Colombia's many, many political martyrs.

Colombia's most famous martyr was undoubtedly leftist, populist politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, whose slaying in downtown Bogotá in 1948 triggered the Bogotazó riots and generated almost as many conspiracy theories as did Kennedy's assassination. The shooting has some parallels to JFK's: after Gaitan was gunned down on a sidewalk, the apparent assassin, a mentally ill man named Juan Roa Sierra, was killed by the furious crowd. As a result, some still dispute that Sierra was the real killer, and conspiracy theories abound about political enemies or foreign powers having planned the killing.

The tomb of Gaitan, by his house in Bogotá's Teusaquillo neighborhood.

A portrait of guerrilla priest Camilo Torres on the Plaza del Che in the National University in Bogotá.
Camilo Torres, chaplain of the National University in Bogotá, was an idealistic leftist who in 1966 gave up on the system, joined the ELN guerrillas and was killed in his first battle. He remains an enduring symbol of protest for many young Colombians.

The monument to revolutionary martyrs executed by imperial Spain on Los Martires Plaza in central Bogotá.

The tomb of Liberal Pres. Candidate Luis Carlos Galan, assassinated on orders of drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar while campaigning for president in 1989 in south Bogotá. Galan's assassination is still being investigated. Apparently, authorities cooperated with the assassins by changing Galan's bodyguards before the killing. 

The Justice Palace on Plaza Bolivar in Bogotá. In 1985, the M-19 Guerrillas attacked the building and took the Supreme Court magistrates hostage. The episode ended with about 100 deaths, and is still under investigation.
A list of those killed following the M-19 guerrilla attack on the Justice Palace. The victims included guerrillas, palace employees and 11 of the 12 Supreme Court judges. Some were murdered extrajudicially by the military.
The tomb of AfroColombian union leader Jose Mercado, in Bogotá's Central Cemetery. Mercado was kidnapped and murdered by the M-19 guerrillas. 
The tomb of M-19 presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro in Bogotá's Central Cemetery. Pizarro was assassinated on an airplane in 1990 by a youth hired by right-wing paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño.
More than 3,000 leaders of the far-left Union Patriotica political party were killed during the 1980s and '90s. Recently, the party was revived and now has a candidate for president. 
A mural in central Bogotá memorializes the Union Patriotica political party, thousands of whose leaders were assassinated by right-wing groups in the late '80s and early '90s, including its two presidential candidates Jaime Pardo Leal and Bernardo Jaramillo.
A mural on 26th Street memorializes comedian Jaime Garzon, assassinted nearby in 1999. The killing, apparently by right-wing forces, is still being investigated.
El Tiempo put JFK on its cover today. 
A mural on the National University's campus with portraits of leftists allegedly killed by the government or right-wing groups and the words 'Neither Pardon nor Forgetting.'
A section of Colombia's memorial to police adn soldiers killed in battle. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

How can guerrillas be classed as victims and not police or military? Just interested.

Miguel said...

You're right. They are victims, too. But just haven't received the same attention.

Howeve, it is true that the great majority of politicians assassinated have been leftists.