Dec. 17, 2015
Two months after the government and the FARC-EP reached an accord on “immediate humanitarian measures for the search, location, identification and dignified return of the remains of persons given to be disappeared” by the armed conflict, and just two days after the parties signed an agreement on victims, concrete actions in Colombia are beginning to fulfill the promises made at the peace table in Cuba.
On Dec. 17, authorities of the Colombian Attorney General’s office returned the remains of 29 people who disappeared in the war to family members in Villavicencio in the department of Meta. Some 200 people from the departments of Meta, Boyacá, Vaupés and Valle del Cauca participated in a religious ceremony in Villavicencio to mark the occasion. The remains, until recently unidentified, were found buried in cemeteries in La Macarena, Granada, Vistahermosa, San José del Guaviare cemeteries. Some of the families had had no news in a decade of what had happened to their loved ones.
In a communiqué released by the Office of the President in Colombia, Hugo Darío Maldonado, brother of one of those whose remains were found, tells what the return of the remains meant to him. He says, “Despite the pain and anguish, we have tranquility. Pain because our family members are no longer [with us]. Anguish to know who did it and why they did it. Tranquility because we now have a place to pay our respects (llevar las plegarias). We have to go forward in the hopes of seeing prompt and immediate reparation and investigation of the facts of all this, psycho-social accompaniment and, God willing, the search for the thousands of disappeared who are missing will continue.”