30 August 2021. The Spectator
We knew they were going to kill him. We knew that in Colombia then and now, a professor who asks more questions than he answers, a doctor who is pained by his patients’ hunger and knows that no problem belongs only to others, is seen as a danger; for authoritarians, kindness is subversive, and the free thinker who refuses to lose his rebelliousness knows that he carries a constant death sentence like a shadow.
Héctor Abad Gómez was always on the side of life; he taught and practised with passion, compassion and humanism and was assassinated in Medellín on 25 August 1987. Six bullets, two hired assassins, a white sheet and an infinite emptiness.
Héctor Abad Facio-Lince, one of the most widely read Spanish-language writers in the world, son of Doctor Abad Gómez and a beautiful woman named Cecilia, wrote 16 years ago a book so sad and so beautiful that one can only read it with misty eyes and a heart at midnight. “El olvido que seremos”, a mixture of novel and testimony, of tenderness and literature, is a work of art, of filial love and denunciation of these horrible decades of violence, which we have not been able to close.
Last year – amidst overflowing hospitals, heroic doctors and entire villages witnessing parades of pandemic victims – post-production of Fernando Trueba’s film, impeccably based on the book by Héctor Abad Facio-Lince, was completed. It was released in Colombia three months ago, and I didn’t have the courage to see it until a couple of days ago. Perhaps because I knew that I would inevitably suffer as I revisited one of those tragedies that has crossed the lives of Colombians, especially doctors and those of us who have never given in to docility or resignation. It took me a long time to see it, but I know that it will stay with me as long as my memory is aware of the country, I live in.
The book and the film are both masterpieces. Javier Cámara portrays Professor Abad Gómez and I feel that he does it with such respect, with such genuine affection, that there is not a voice, a look, a texture of the sadness, of the defence of human rights and of the love of the Abad Facio-Lince family, that has gone unnoticed. It is this profound dose of humanity that one feels throughout the film. David Trueba’s script is perfectly in tune with our novelist’s book; I imagine he wrote it with his soul in every word, in every sentence of love, danger and rebellion. The images are not lacking or lacking in anything, the actors radiate light from within, and the music by the Polish composer is beautiful. Two hours of a film that you need to see, embrace and feel, just as you do when you read the book.
A buena hora Gonzalo Cordoba, Dago García Producciones and Caracol Televisión took on this odyssey that pays tribute to the generosity of the soul, to the urgency of rescuing public health and ensuring respect for life. How can you not love a beautiful production, full of social and emotional sense?
My respects to all the people who brought this unforgettable book “El olvido que seremos” to the cinema. Thus, broken and brave, with our lives on the edge and clinging to our dreams of building a just country; thus, wrapped up in so many deaths that should never have happened, we celebrate the goodness of this professor who 34 years and 6 days after being murdered, continues to give us lessons from a Heaven to which he never prayed.