by Jenny Rodríguez
When CPTers arrived at a meeting with the people of Bella Union, a village neighboring El Guayabo, to document cases of human rights violations from 1990 to 2014, I noticed a woman with a big, beautiful smile sitting under a tree.
As she told me step by step what she had suffered at the hands of armed actors, her smile grew more radiant. She did not seem weighed down by sadness despite the violence that shook the region over ten years ago.
She recounted the events that ended the lives of her family – first the story of her father’s death, then her brother’s, and then she took a break, saying that the story of her fifteen-year-old son was the most painful.
When her son was abducted, she found unquenchable strength and courage to carry on. “Being a mother,” she said, “is to give everything for your child, especially when his freedom is threatened and he is at risk of losing his childhood.”
She alone undertook the search for her son in the mountains of southern Bolívar. She never cared how dangerous it was to go looking for him, even when paramilitaries threatened her. Having risked everything to find her son without success, she became ill and could only pray from the depths of her soul for his safe return.
One day, three months later, he miraculously appeared in the backyard. She believes that he was tortured. The memories of what happened continue to haunt him, yet he still has not received any psychological help or treatment.
Of course she is grateful for her son’s return, but her resistance is not done. Stubborn and hopeful, she is prepared to remain on the land where violence has repeatedly knocked at her door.
“If I am capable of getting my son back, I am also capable of giving everything for this land,” she says. “It is the only legacy I will leave my family. That is why I keep moving forward.”