A 13-year-old boy and three 17-year-olds arrived at Medicina Legal not in uniform, but in plastic bags. Their board was the minefields; their mentors, the ELN guerrillas; and their executioner, that monstrosity that results when child recruitment and state stupidity come together. On 16 September in Chocó, a bombing ordered by the national government caused the death of four minors; once again, the minister and the president remained silent, and then to top it all off, another ignorant and perverse presidential justification: “a legitimate target is being confronted”. And of course, we found out not because the culprits had the courage (a word they don’t know) to show their faces, but because of the opposition’s denunciations.
What’s next? Another parade of indignant people, more urgent communiques, more appeals to international organisations to help us stop this national disgrace. A handful of courageous people are summoned to political control and a majority of cowards will not measure up.
Meanwhile, Colombia – according to UNHCR and IACHR data – has the highest number of displaced people in the world, and in the eight months of 2021 we will have more than 46,000 confined communities. This is not a normal country, where life goes and death comes.
The recruitment and use of children and adolescents is a violation of human rights, of international humanitarian law, of the very condition of childhood and the need to grow up in freedom. But this crime, committed by the guerrillas of the past and the present, does not give the government a license to become a violator itself.
Are we going to allow our history to be circumscribed to a script between rapists? This inability to govern for peace and not for the absurd has made us unviable, jumping from transgression to crime, from justice to revenge, while the public force becomes an impudent force, and the commander in chief fails to fulfil what he swore in the middle of a downpour, on 7 August 2018.
Someone should tell the ministers in office that children are not war machines, but victims of war. Yes, Mr Molano, even those who wear insurgent uniforms and carry rifles bigger than they are, and those who boil rice pots in the camps and suffer wounds and fevers and malaria, they, those who were torn from their families, are essentially victims of the armed conflict; victims whom the social disorder, inequality and voracity of war seek to turn into the world’s youngest victimizers and thus justify bombings that destroy their bodies and forbid them forever the word “future”.
Someone should remind us all of article 44 of the Constitution: “The family, society and the State have the obligation to assist and protect children in order to guarantee their harmonious and integral development and the full exercise of their rights”. Children should be the legitimate target of tenderness, protection, education and endless hugs. Paper aeroplanes, never again aeroplane bombers!
What good are the early warnings of the Ombudsman’s Office if they are left sleeping on the desks of accomplices and bureaucrats? How long will we continue to be the chronicle of one and a thousand deaths foretold? We are not a novel: we are reality; a reality that hurts beyond and beyond the doors of Medicina Legal, and that we have the option to change there, where it must be changed: in the conscience and at the ballot box.