Death of my cousin Óscar and of commander “Cuñado”

Zereida

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Zereida

Ex- combatant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - FARC-EP-. Joined at the age of 12, remained there for 12 years.

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My cousin died. My own kin and blood, right?

The commander also fell and, to be fair, he was well liked by everyone.

That was back in 2002…. yes, I remember clearly

As if it was yesterday.

That is the fighting at La Novia, Caquetá in Fragüita.

When we arrived at the place where the fighting was supposed to start, we did not realize that the army was up there on that hill.

The guerrillas took all those cars and left, came and went several times to wait for the others, the enemies.

That is when the fray began. They asked for support immediately. Aircrafts flew in. Those tanks arrived. There were casualties … I mean, very few remained standing…. two days of fighting.

With all those wounded, the thing was not to let them die there and to prevent the enemy from capturing them. We had to get them out, save them.

Improvised stretchers were built; and we had to carry all that. Those are heavy loads, it is tiring.

So civilians were called in to help. This is where they are arriving with the wounded, look at how they pull them out.

A civilian died when he was helping.

When we tell them we need their help, they just have to do it.

But when everything is over, come the reprisals against those civilians who helped rescue the enemy.

They had to do it, can’t you see?

We left the battle ground, pushing our way through small lagoons, under merciless rain, running, covered in mud, feet sinking. Trying to find a hiding place, others buried themselves.

Do you know what it means to bury yourself in a mud lake?

Lagoons, as we call them over there… it is terrible. You have to sink in there and remain still, with only your nose outside the water. Dead still for two days in that lagoon.

There was five of us, walking on rotten feet, and the choppers up there and the pig makes a sound, psh psh… and they shoot and bullets sink in the water.

I have two scars… right here, in my legs. Razing bullets.

As you can see here, this fellow in the stretcher was a commander. He was wounded.

His nickname was Cuñado, but his name was Héctor

The enemy fought hard to capture him, they would not want to see him escape. Imagine, a top commander.

So they put him on that hammock and then in this truck to drive him to La Novia where the doctors were waiting.

But the truck malfunctioned and it was too late for him. He died just as the truck reached the town.

I lost a cousin in that fray. His name was Óscar.

My aunt held a funeral and buried him there, at la Consolata, close to La Novia and Yapurá.

The commander also got a nice funeral.

He is buried in the same graveyard as my cousin. He was a very nice commander, guerrilla men wept for him.

Everybody wept. It was nice. Then a heavy silence…

That commander got all people to love him quite a bit, they really loved him.

The funeral is the regular thing, all those who attend get fed.

The Colombian flag was draped over the top, as if he were a soldier.

They sing the national anthem, the guerrilla anthem. It’s nice.

My cousin was 24, I guess. He joined young, when he was 15 or so. He was tall and burly, we used to have lots of fun together.

He liked to dance and so did I. We were good pals, I liked to go out dancing with him.

When you are painting, you feel that the dead come back from the grave, and you find peace.

I had never opened up to anyone…. no one, no one.

It is only until now, when things come back as I paint.

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2009

Vinyl paint on MDF

210 x 250 cm

B062 - 0459

Category:

Burial / mass graves Combat Wake

Armed group:

FARC - EP (MUJERES)