The attack of San Jose de Fragua

Henry Caliche


Henry Caliche

Ex-combatant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -FARC-EP-. Joined at the age of 16, remained in the group for 12 years.

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This is in Caquetá. The village is called San José del Fragua.

This is a combat that took place in 1999 when two new guerrilla fronts were coming into action: the Arturo Medina and the Amazonas fronts. We were told there were two police stations, one in Curillo, Caquetá and the other in San José del Fragua, Caqueta. They were easy targets for the new fronts that needed to test their combat skills.

We made the move to capture the San Jose station.

The fighting lasted 14 hours, from 2 in the afternoon to 4 in the morning.

We had to drag our fallen guerrrilla members along the road over a distance of approximately five to six kilometers.

The bodies were assigned a guard of honor for an entire two days and then buried in a graveyard.

The guard of honor is only assigned to those who fall in combat.

In the presence of the guard of honor, there is no praying; there is only a table on which the dead person lies, bathed and ready to be buried in a coffin. There is only one person who remains on guard, looking at the dead person in the eye as long as is needed;

Sometimes for 10 minutes or half an hour, or two hours… Just looking at the dead face, completly still, blinking only when necessary: No head turning, no talking, just standing still, your rifle in your hand, looking at the dead face, in whatever position is required. That is a guard of honor.

Then comes the burial during which the commander says a few words and shots are fired into the air. All rifles have to point upwards, eyes locked on the dead person as the commander speaks, everyone fires… bang, bang, bang… six shots each. There are some commanders whose words move you to tears.

Some funerals are painful because they have to be done in a hurry; it happens when the army is in persuit of guerrilla groups looking to escape through the mountains. A small hole has to be hastily dug to burry the combatant who is covered with soil and left behind in the mountains. Sometimes the body is found by the army, or animals might dig it out…

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Vinyl paint on MDF

100 x 210 cm

B015 - 0349


Burial / mass graves Combat Wake

Armed group: