Victims ask for speed in the search for missing people in a Medellín landfill


Medellín (Colombia), Oct 4 (EFE).- Relatives of people who disappeared during 2001 and 2004 in a neighborhood in Medellín asked this Wednesday for speed in the search process given the delays in the excavations in the city’s waste dumps that should have started in November 2022, but where excavations have not begun.

“The search is not a favor, it is a historical debt of the State,” said María Auxilio Arenas, spokesperson for the “Women Walking for the Truth” group, during her intervention at the hearing to follow up on the precautionary measures adopted by the Special Jurisdiction. for Peace (JEP) to protect the “La Escombrera” and “La Arenera” sectors of Commune 13.

In this popular neighborhood, which was the scene of violent military operations and was controlled for years by the guerrillas and paramilitaries, the JEP estimates that there were at least 459 people disappeared between 1981 and 2016, by illegal armed groups, as well as by the public force. .

Arenas, after a symbolic act in tribute to the companions who died “waiting for answers, truth and justice” for their relatives, asked on behalf of the victims “for more will and speed so that the search is effective.”

Lawyer Adriana Arboleda, coordinator of the victims’ area of ​​the Corporación Jurídica Libertad, told EFE that there have been “a series of delays, especially because the Medellín Mayor’s Office required that there be a geotechnical study to be able to carry out the intervention. and only until September 21 was that report delivered.”

For this reason, he urged the JEP and the Search Unit for Persons Reportedly Missing (UBPD) to “make decisions to be able to advance in the search, to tell us the exact date of when the technical-forensic intervention begins,” since Next month marks the 21st anniversary of Operation Orion, considered the largest urban military intervention in Colombia (criticized for having been carried out in collusion with the paramilitaries to expel the guerrillas from this popular neighborhood) and where there were more than a hundred people missing.

What was about a year ago a drop of hope for the families of at least 200 victims of forced disappearance during the period 2002-2003 is now on hold. The UBPD and the JEP have initiated plans to intervene in “La Escombrera”, but work has not begun.

“This has been a slow process; due to technicalities the search process has been lengthened,” Luz Elena Galeano, who was taken from her husband Luis Javier Laverde in Comuna 13, told EFE.

On Saturday, she and other female searchers were at the landfill doing a tour and a symbolic act while they asked themselves “why did they hinder us from searching for our missing relatives?”

JEP magistrate Gustavo Salazar, in addition to asking for forgiveness from the relatives of the victims, especially from “the searching mothers,” indicated that the hearing is part of a “slow path” that they hope to “clear” to carry out the excavation in “The Dumpster”.

“We apologize because we have not been able to respond in the dimension that we should and because the State has been supremely negligent. In 21 years an excavation process has not begun. I think the gap between the needs of the victims and the state response that there is nothing left but to ask for forgiveness,” Salazar told journalists.

Engineer Diego Moreno specified that, according to the findings of the geotechnical study carried out by his firm, it is possible to execute the forensic intervention plan in “La Escombrera” and “La Arenera”, areas that are protected by the JEP’s precautionary measures. .

“The topography is adequate to continue carrying out the excavations,” said the expert, who recommended carrying out works to mitigate the risks during the removal of 44,000 cubic meters of earth and debris.

After the delivery of the geothermal study, the families of the victims are still waiting for results, while the magistrate, when asked when the excavations will begin, responds without a fixed date: “it has to start as soon as possible.”

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