BOGOTA – Colombia’s prominent intellectuals and artists, including musician Cesar Lopez and singer Adriana Lucia, got together in a virtual protest on Sunday to condemn in one voice the incessant violence that has killed dozens in the South America country in recent weeks.
“This is an urgent matter that needs empathy, sensitivity. I believe that the country has reached its limit and this is the moment to react and connect with the need to take care of life, a dignified life, life in all its forms,” Cesar Lopez said during the virtual mobilization, “A song for Colombia. Until we love life.”
The initiative brought together about 100 Colombians from the world of music, literature and journalism who, through social networks, demanded an end to the violence inflicted mainly on young people.
At least five people were killed by unidentified gunmen during an attack in a sugarcane plantation in Cali (southwest), and another eight were murdered in a country house in Samaniego in the department of Nariño, bordering Ecuador.
Similar massacres have been perpetrated in the last three weeks in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, Arauca, and Norte de Santander.
“They are killing people every day in Colombia. There are massacres and in Colombia it is happening every day,” said Adriana Lucia. “I hope that my voice and your voice never stop defending life.”
The protest was held virtually since mobilization on the streets wasn’t possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The participants representing almost the entire spectrum of the Colombian society in the virtual meet streamed live on Facebook and other social media channels, spoke in one voice to reject all forms of violence.
“This has nothing to do with either the left or the right, or with parties or campaigns, or politicians. This is for the human dignity and we have decided to defend it, to tell the perpetrators of violence, look them in their eye and say not one more bullet, nobody kills, nobody dies,” Cesar Lopez said.
The creator of the escopetarra, a guitar he made from a modified gun and used as a symbol of peace, said “We will continue singing until Colombia is a country where people do not kill each other.”
Lopez performed the song “Until We Love Life,” whose lyrics are a long list of Colombians from all walks of life assassinated by guerrillas, paramilitaries, drug traffickers, and agents of the state during the internal armed conflict.
Other participant artists also sang for life and hope and against violence.
“Every death in Colombia has a mother who mourns, a family that misses the lost one. We don’t want more war, we don’t want more violence,” said singer Natalia Bedoya before performing on “Querencia.”
Leyner Palacios, a survivor of the Bojaya massacre that 18 years ago left at least 79 dead (some report says 119) and dozens injured, asked the participants to sign a pact for life and peace.
“Because we want to sing, because we want to love, because we want to walk until we love life, I invite you to sign a great pact for life and for peace. The pact will be launched on Sept. 10 from the Pacific and southwestern Colombia,” said Palacios, who is now a peace activist.
The activist, who lost 32 family and friends in that massacre perpetrated by the FARC guerrillas, said he was convinced that the spirits of all those who were taken away from were seeking “peace, crying out for justice, waiting for the truth to be told.”
Writers and journalists also raised their voices to call attention to the need to turn the vision of the country around.
Chronicler and writer Alberto Salcedo Ramos said that they had obligation to denounce violence in all forms.
Ricardo Silva Romero, the author of books such as “Rio Muerto,” a novel that tells a story of a painful life of courage tested by conflict, said it was “the right time to stop bleeding” and to “start a life around coexistence and being alive at the same time in this same place.”
“We are not only killing young people, we are also ending the lives of people who signed for peace,” said photojournalist Jesus Abad Colorado, who along with others, has documented the Colombian armed conflict in a work that spans almost three decades.
He said those who have given up the violent ways needed to be protected along with leaders of peace and “respect the lives of young people.”