An inconvenient question from Alejandra
A NOTE FROM CSN :
[Alejandra Rodriguez is the daughter of Carlos Augusto Rodriguez, who was the administrator of the cafeteria of the Palace of Justice, from which he was “disappeared” during government forces’ retaking of the building from M-19 guerrillas on November 6,1985. The M-19 commandos had taken over the building with the idea of having a discussion with President Belisario Betancur, whom they believed had gone back on his word in peace discussions with the M-19. The Colombian armed forces attacked the building with tremendous force, even sending a tank up the steps of the Palace of Justice and inside to attack the M-19 forces. All of the M-19 members were killed in the fight and its aftermath. And non-combatants in the building, including most of the members of the Supreme Court, were also killed or “disappeared”.
Alejandra was only one month and six days old at the time. She rightly claims the moral authority to speak out about forced disappearances on the part of the State at that time and also today.]
She writes, “In the holocaust and crime committed mostly by the armed forces, a partial recognition of responsibility of the State has been given. However, for more than two decades this deed has enjoyed total impunity, and never has the responsibility both political and military been recognized by naming those persons responsible. These are the intellectual and material authors of the crimes who do not permit that the truth be known. The censorship and cover-up by the communications media was ordered by Noemi Sanin, who at the time was the Minister of Communications. She gave the order to transmit a soccer game, rather than broadcast the urgent message of the President of the Supreme Court, Alfonso Reyes Echandia, who sought a ceasefire.”
On July 4, 2007 Alejandra confronted Noemi Sanin, now Colombia’s Ambassador to Spain, at a public forum on “Myths and Realities of the Colombian Conflict”, held in the Casa de America in Madrid. After Ambassador Sanin had in her remarks painted a rosy picture of President Alvaro Uribe’s government and a couple of other persons in attendance had asked questions, Alejandra addressed the Ambassador, as follows:
“Good afternoon, Ms. Ambassador. I am Alejandra Rodriguez, the daughter of one of the twelve employees of the cafeteria of the Palace of Justice who was disappeared during the military operations against the take-over by the M-19 in 1985. When my father disappeared I was only one month old and I want to know , since you have spoken to us about confidence, transparency and publicity, why as Minister of Communications at the time did you order the suspension of the televised transmission of the take-over and the programming in its place of a soccer match?”
Ms. Sanin replied as follows: “Alejandra, you were just a baby and I do not know what they may have told you. But it is true that I ordered the suspension of the transmission of the take-over because we knew that another commando unit of the M-19 had kidnapped a truck distributing milk in a town near Bogota and was giving the milk out to the people. That led us to think that it was best to control the information, because we feared that the situation would degenerate into a popular revolt similar to that of April 9, 1948, when the center of Bogota was destroyed as a response to the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. In addition, the communications media were irresponsibly transmitting the take-over as if it were a soccer match. So it seemed to us it would be best for them to transmit a real soccer match.”
The Ambassador’s remarks provoked a vigorous response, as people called out “How shameful!”, “Cynical!” and “Assassins!” Frightened, the Ambassador said she had another commitment and left.
Alejandra has now formulated the following question for Ambassador Sanin: “I would like to know, Ms. Ambassador, if you are disposed to recognize the truth and your responsibility before the victims and publicly. Are you disposed to collaborate and support us through the reopening of the case? Will you help us answer the question ‘Where is my father and where are the 11 other persons disappeared by the military forces of the State?’”
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621