COLOMBIA: fighting impunity from a stage
Antígonas, Tribunal de Mujeres - Antigone, Court of Women - is a collective creation where six women victims of violence in Colombia do catharsis on stage while denouncing crimes against humanity.
Luz Marina Bernal Parra, María Ubilerma Sanabria López and Lucero Carmona are the mothers of three young boys killed by the Army in what is known as the infamous scandal of false positives. Orceni Montañez Muñoz and Fanny Palacios Romero are victims and survivors of the political genocide against the leftist Patriotic Union party. Mayra López Severiche is a student leader wrongly accused of conspiracy and incarcerated during one year. In Antígonas, Tribunal de Mujeres the actresses are the victims, helped on stage by young professional actresses Ángela Triana Gallego, Lina Támara, Karen Roa and drummer Andrea Jaramillo.
The Patriotic Union (UP) is a leftist Colombian political party, founded by the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party in 1985, as part of the peace negotiations that the guerrillas held with the Conservative Belisario Betancur administration. By 1987, the party's leadership began to be gradually but increasingly decimated by the violent attacks and assassinations carried out by drug lords, proto-paramilitary groups and some members of the government's armed forces that acted together with the above, with what many observers consider as the passive tolerance (and in, some instances, the alleged collaboration) of the traditional bipartisan political establishment. The exact number of the victims is not clear, but it is usually an accepted figure to state that 6.528 of UP members were murdered.
The false positives scandal was a series of murders in Colombia, part of the ongoing armed conflict between the government and guerrilla forces of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army). In an effort to inflate body counts and receive promotions or other benefits, members of the Army had poor or mentally impaired civilians lured to remote parts of the country with offers of work, killed them, and presented them to authorities as guerrillas killed in battle. The scandal broke in 2008, when 22 men from Soacha - a city on the southern edge of Bogota, home to mostly working-class families - who had been recruited for work were found dead several hundreds of miles away. A recruiter later testified that he had received $500 from the Colombian Army for each man he recruited and delivered to them.
After the 2008 Soacha discovery, defense minister Juan Manuel Santos (today President of the Nation) denied knowledge of the scheme, fired 27 officers including three generals and changed the Army's body count system. Until now more than 4.700 such cases have been investigated in all parts of the country but verdicts have been reached in only 170 cases. Human rights groups have charged that the judicial cases progressed too slowly and the International Federation for Human Rights asked the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation, as 'those who bear the greatest responsibility for these crimes are not being investigated or prosecuted in Colombia'.
Between 2000 and 2008, U.S. military and economic aid to Colombia exceeded $6 billion, making it the largest recipient of American assistance in Latin America and one of the top ten worldwide. Part of this incredible military and economic aid from the United States was to defeat the guerrillas and part of that theoretical defeat is based on data inflated as those of false positives.
In recent years, government forces and the former president of the Republic, Álvaro Uribe Vélez (in office at the time of the scandal of false positives) have asked Colombian media to ignore the story and silence the protests of the "whining" (quote) 'mothers of Soacha'. With the aim of overcoming the censorship of the national press, director Carlos Satizábal and the company Tramaluna Teatro decided to use theater to give voice to the victims and allow them to fight against impunity and oblivion.