Broken inside

*warning* there might be triggers for some of you.  Please be careful.  Death & Violence

My mother was murdered.  Shot in the head.

My father was murdered.  Shot in the head.

There have been many times when I wished I had been shot in the head too.

Is that the fate that awaits my son?

Remember, I am not be fatalist here.  He HAS BEEN threatened.

Let’s look at the facts.  Homicide is still the leading cause of violent death in Colombia.  According the a report released by the Geneva Declaration in October 2011, Colombia is the fifth most dangerous country in the world. A report published by the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, through its National Reference Center on Violence, states that the homicide was [still] the leading cause of violent deaths in Colombia during 2011.

By 2000, it was estimated that there were 71 homicides PER DAY.  Not per year, not per month. PER DAY.  I wasn’t able to find more recent statistics but methinks it hasn’t changed that much.

“Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights activists” says Human Rights First, a non-profit  founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights to promote laws and policies that advance universal rights and freedoms.

The U.S. Department of State listed the following as human right abuses in Colombia as part of their 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

The following societal problems and governmental human rights abuses were reported during the year: unlawful and extrajudicial killings; insubordinate military collaboration with new illegal armed groups and paramilitary members who refused to demobilize; forced disappearances; torture and mistreatment of detainees; overcrowded and insecure prisons; arbitrary detentions; impunity and an inefficient judiciary subject to intimidation; illegal surveillance of civilian groups, political opponents, and government agencies; occasional harassment and intimidation of journalists; unhygienic conditions at settlements for displaced persons, with limited access to health care, education, or employment; corruption; harassment of human rights groups and activists, including unfounded prosecutions; violence against women, including rape; violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons based on sexual orientation; child abuse and child prostitution; trafficking in women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation; some societal discrimination against women, indigenous persons, and Afro-Colombians; and illegal child labor.

Emphasis is mine.  Not because the others are not important but because those are the ones that could happen to my son.

The following is an excerpt from Amnesty International’s Colombia Human Rights page.

Colombia has a host of active community leaders, peace activists and human rights defenders who are bravely working toward a peaceful end to the conflict. These individuals face constant threats and have been subject to torture and murder, , and many have been forced to leave the country.

13  unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia were killed in the first three months of 2012 and 64 “acts of aggression” were carried out in the same period, According to Lisa Haugaard of the Latin America Working Group in a report for a U.S. congressional committee for the advocacy of human rights.   Illegal surveillance of human right defenders by official agencies – even though more notorious during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe when it was carried out under the now-defunct Colombian intelligence agency DAS, is still in practice.

I could keep quoting till the end of time.  But the bottom line is that human rights are non-existent in Colombia.  So I’m not over-reacting here.

I am not going through a morbid spell, making things up in my mind.   My son IS under illegal surveillance.  He HAS received several threatening calls.

So far, his Canadian Citizenship has protected him.  I truly believe that’s the only reason a forced disappearance hasn’t been brought upon him.

But how easy would it be to press bogus charges against him?

Human rights defenders in Colombia are frequently subjected to spurious criminal charges such as rebellion, alleging that they are members of guerilla organizations, or slander and libel for exposing human rights violations. These charges are often politically motivated and seek to discredit and stigmatize human rights defenders, thereby deterring them from performing their important work.

My son believes in changing the world.  He believes that everybody deserves to have food on their table, a roof over their heads, an education, a job, a life without fear, the right to free speech, and freedom of religion and ideology.  And he’s willing to risk his life to defend those basic human rights.

But what does that mean for me as his mother? Sure I am proud of him.

I wish him a long and productive life.  A happy one.  Alas, that will never be.  He will never be happy when so many others are suffering.

Am I selfish for not wanting that his fate be the same one as that of my mother? As that of my father?

Is there a bullet with my son’s name in it?


19 thoughts on “Broken inside

  1. purpleowltree1234 says:

    I hear you SSG. I hear you and have a small inkling of how desperate and terrified and sad you might be feeling, having grown up in a place where murder was also common, and a leading cause of death, particularly among males. It sounds like your son is in a terrible situation and I hope his Canadian citizenship speaks loudly to his enemies, and keeps them away from him. What a sad society with such little hope for basic human rights. Your son must have huge commpassion for people in his heart. I hope he will be able to have huge compassion for you too and do his best to get safe.
    I knew your past had been extremely traumatic, but I didn’t know exactly how, as I haven’t read that far back in this Blog of yours. I’m so sorry to hear your parents died like that. I’m so sorry for the legacy that will undoubtedly leave you living with. I truly ache for your pain. And I rejoice in your beauty and gentleness and intelligence and courage.
    Loe Always, from your friend Rach.

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Thank you so much. I know you understand. And coming from you, who also have suffered much, it means a lot to me.

      And so good to hear from you too! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to go visit your blog. But I do think of you often. I know you also have a lot of struggles on your plate.

      • purpleowltree1234 says:

        There is never any pressure for anyone to visit our Blog. Please never feel pressure about it. I’m here and you’re here and I care and you care and that’s what matters. :) I too think of you often, and I’m hoping to catch up on Blogs within the next week or so, after Greg and Kiki go back to their house tomorrow. It sounds like a *lot* has been happening in your life! ((((safe hugs))))
        Love Always to you SSG,
        from Rach. <3

  2. sdunnebacke says:

    No easy answers here, so I won’t even try.

    One of my favorite bloggers, whom you may or may not follow, seems to be Colombia bound for volunteer work. Her outlook about the country couldn’t be more different from yours, and I wonder if it would be of ANY use to either of you if you connected. Feel free to ignore it, but if it’s interesting at all you can check out what Meghan’s up to here: I might be grasping at straws, as they say, since I have no real help to offer you.

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Many people have a very idyllic view of the country. Mostly foreigners but even Colombian born people. The reasons are many.

      Even my daughter thinks the same. I over-protected my children. I hid them from the violence. They were the sons of doctors, lived in a privileged neighbourhood, went to one of the top 5 schools in the country. Their friends are all the sons and daughters of doctors and engineers. Just as my friends are.

      Colombia is a gorgeous country. With landscapes like you wouldn’t believe. Gorgeous beaches, breathtaking rain forests, mountains that seem to touch the sky. Also very generous, giving people too. Particularly those who have suffered the most.

      If you’re lucky enough to be part of the privileged 5% that live in gated communities, protected by hired guns, eating the best food, then for sure you’ll think you are living in paradise.

      But outside, there’s a very different reality. Live in the poverty belts is not so gentle. Foreigners and the wealthy never go there. And if they happen to have to drive around them, they conveniently erase that memory from their brains. They know nothing -or choose to not know, about child soldiers. About the massacres. About the forced dissapearances.

      I could go on and on….

      • sdunnebacke says:

        Sounds like the US on steroids, maybe.

        The thing with Meghan is that she’s going there to do some volunteer work, as she’s done in many other place round the world. I don’t know what her plan is in Colombia, but if it’s like her past volunteering it will be at an orphanage, or a hospital, or some other place of need. I just thought if there was any chance she could help you or your son, I better give it a shot – but that’s probably underestimating the size and scope of the country and space between people there trying to do good and make it better.

        • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

          From what I gather from her post, she’s in love and staying in the north coast. Those pictures are from Cartagena, which is a world heritage city. Probably one of the safest cities for foreigners in the whole country. And Parque Tayrona is one of those idyllic places I was talking about. I am very happy she found love and she’s happy (happiness is always a good thing) but as she says, we should “expect a lot of photos of hammocks, palm trees, and piña coladas” from her trip. I doubt she’ll have any bad experiences.

          The citizens of The Capitol have no clue what’s going on in the districts.

          You’re intention is very endearing though. Thank you very much.

  3. waywardweed says:

    You are facing a parent’s worst nightmare and feeling helpless is the worst part. He is an adult so you can’t lock him in his room. He wants to do the “right” thing but the cost to you is too high. We don’t hear about Columbia too much in the news. I didn’t know how bad it was and conversely how good we have it here (and Canada). I don’t have any great words of advice so I’ll just end this with a virtual hug.

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Yes, things are bad for the poor while the wealthy squeeze the life out of them and live happily in their gated communities, protected by their hired guns. The situation is pretty bad for everybody but specially for women.

      Thanks for the hug!

  4. Sword-chinned bitch says:

    If only half the men in the world could be as courageous and valiant as your son! When I read about your son being an activist I was truly impressed and inspired. He’s not just going with the flow, being swept away in the current — he’s using intelligence and conviction to make a difference — to fight. He’s a fighter no matter what. He’s not a coward. This is your son, and he is for sure a reflection of you SSG. I would be proud to have someone like this in my family. He’s doing what leaders do. Not everyone has that in them.

    While I’m looking at it this way from the outside, I realize that there is no way for me to feel what you’re feeling as a mother. As always, my heart goes out to you and your family. Count me in your corner.

  5. Love & Lunchmeat says:

    Your son and his girlfriend are returning to Columbia regardless? I’ve never been there. Although I’ve always been curious, it’s one of those places where usually people tell you NOT to go. Kidnappings, and… everything else you just said. On the one hand, it’s great to know that there are people who stand up for personal freedoms. On the other hand, I can’t imagine it being my child…

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      The girlfriend was never here. She doesn’t have a Canadian visa so it’s very unlikely she’ll ever be able to come to Canada unless my son marries her.

      My son left on the 20th. I assume he’s OK cause he’s been posting on FB but we didn’t part ways in very good terms so I don’t expect to hear from him in a while.

      Colombia is pretty safe for tourists if they stick to big cities and don’t wander alone to the unsafe parts. The beaches are gorgeous and the food is delicious. There are many beautiful resorts I highly recommend.

      It only become dangerous if you are a foreigner involved in human rights or if you are a high profile executive of a multinational company. Or of course, if you are a national and either live in zones where there’s armed conflict or it you dare speak up.

      But tourists are left alone always.

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