From the Studies of Violences to Memories: The Construction of Victims and its Articulations with the State

From the Studies of Violences to Memories: The Construction of Victims and its Articulations with the State

Yomaira García Acuña (Universidad Simón Bolivar, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9675-4.ch017
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This paper presents some of the effects of Colombia´s armed conflict in people who were displaced from their territories, and the institutional mechanisms proposed to address this problem. The author studies the cases of El Salado (Bolívar Department) and Nueva Venecia (Department of Magdalena) in a research conducted in these populations after the massacres of the years 2000 by paramilitary groups, and articulates the notions of violence and memories in order to question the current interventions on them in terms of transitional justice.
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Background: Violence Studies In Colombia

Refering to cases of violence in Colombia seems to be an imperative for human and social sciences in Latin-America. Questions regarding the violent or not-violent nature of Colombians and the place that the country occupies in international violence rankings have been object of interest of the general population and especially of researchers working on the subject. In fact, there is a lot of literature written, since Colombia´s armed conflict2 has been approached by many disciplines in numerous studies. This chapter presents the summary3 and context of the country´s situation, in order to address more accurately the concept of memories.

Usually studies of Colombia´s armed conflict tend to allude to long-term studies, starting from Colombia´s independence wars, the battles of governors aiming to appropriate power in the country in the XIXth Century and the subsequent conflicts between members of the most important political parties, Liberals and Conservators, in the middle of the XXth Century. The assassination of the political leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, on the 9th of April of 1948, is considered as the event that triggered what is known as the First Period of Violence, which ended in 1953 with the arrival of the Army General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla to the presidency. This event generated a considerable amount of written works. Not only in the academia but also in the literature and media. This event tends to overshadow other important events4 and it is considered as the foundational incident of contemporary violence in Colombia. At least in the collective imaginary because violence was already present before Gaitán´s assassination.

After Rojas Pinilla came to power, the Second Period of Violence initiated in the country, which ended with the fall of the General. This episode led to the creation of the Frente Nacional, which was an agreement between Liberals and Conservators to take turns in the presidency for sixteen years. That is, from 1958 to 1974.

The Third Period of Violence started with the fight against armed groups, which had already been conformed in the sixties in the form of rural guerrillas, and that still exists under the name of FARC (an acronym that translates as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). After the formation of the FARC, other guerrillas such as the ELN (National Liberation Army) and the M-19 were created.

The appearance of drug trafficking as an actor in violence gives rise to the Fourth Period of Violence. Since the seventies, the departments of the North Coast of Colombia experienced an economic boom with massive production of marihuana. At the end of this decade the traffic of cocaine in the departments of the center of the country and the formation of drug cartels for the production and distribution of this drug generated a war between, towards and against the latter, as well as a unification of some other sectors of the guerrillas.

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