Residents of the northern Colombian town of El Salado say that ten years after a paramilitary massacre that left more than 100 dead, the state has failed to deliver fully support promised to the survivors.
According to a report by El Tiempo, the 1,000 residents who returned to the town after the massacre (out of El Salado’s previous 8,000 inhabitants) say they feel abandoned by the Colombian government.
Although the town received some support after the tragedy, in the form of public and private grants and a new health centre, for example, the aid has fallen short of what is needed by the townspeople.
Most notably, El Salado does not have a permanent doctor.
Town official, Gilberto Cohen, who was 16 years old at the time of the massacre, explained the need to have full time medical care for residents.
“Last week a woman who had undergone an operation on her fallopian tubes suffered a hemorrhage in the night and had to be taken in a car that was here by chance over night, for this reason we need a doctor who sleeps here, as we had before,” said Cohen.
El Salado resident Nelsy Alvarez added, “For us it is not enough. Who says that serious illness gives a warning before it arrives? We need someone that stays all the time, we are not animals.”
Women widowed by the massacre have also said that they are not receiving the support promised them by the State.
” … they don’t give us anything … we are dying of hunger,” said one woman who lost her husband in the massacre.
El Salado residents in February marked the ten year anniversary of the tragedy, during which members of the now-demobilized paramilitary organization the AUC entered the town of El Salado and murdered the people who lived there.
The AUC suspected many of the townspeople of being members and supporters of left-wing guerrilla group the FARC. Victims were taken from their homes by the paramilitaries and dragged to a local football field, where they were publicly tortured before being hung, beaten, stabbed, and shot to death.
The Colombian government has received criticism for the lack of reparations being offered to victims of paramilitary violence, with the head of the government’s National Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (NRRC) on Thursday claiming that reparations made thus far by demobilized paramilitaries under Colombia’s Justice and Peace process have been “absolutely insufficient” due to the program’s legal loopholes.