President Santos apologized to the people of El Salado in northern Colombia Friday, asking their forgiveness for the massacre carried out there by paramilitaries 11 years ago.
Santos issued his remarks as he announced a new land subsidy for the people of the town. “I come to tell the victims, sorry, I apologize on behalf of the state and on behalf of the whole of society.” said Santos.”There was a slaughter that never had to happen. There was a failure by the state, all kinds of failures that happened during that time.”
Santos then announced a land grant that would give families displaced from El Salado 741 acres.
In February 2000, approximately 400 armed paramilitary fighters stormed the town of El Salado and accused the residents of being revolutionaries. The paramilitaries then began systematically removing families from their homes and dragging them to the village soccer field where they were tortured and killed. The killing lasted several days, and although there was a Colombian military base very close to the village, the military never intervened.
The vast majority of the paramilitary members who carried out the massacre have never been prosecuted and none of their leaders have faced trial. More than 100 people are thought to have been killed in the attack. Half of the people who lived through the massacre still haven’t returned to the village.