cjl-la-escombrera

La Escombrera

According to testimony from witnesses and some former paramilitaries, La Escombrera, a vast area situated in the higher parts of the Medellin’s District 13, was used to dump construction waste and for “the clandestine burials of victims of enforced disappearances”.[1] In 2015 after years of legal battles and dialogues with State institutions, the victims grouped under the association Mujeres Caminando por la Verdad, and accompanied by organisations like the

Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL) succeeded in getting the State to take on the search for their loved ones[2] in what the Public Prosecutor’s Office has described as “the world’s largest urban mass grave”.[3] La Escombrera is in effect thousands of square and cubic metres mixed with tonnes of rubbish which has been mounting up over the years, meaning it is one of the most complex and costly exhumations in the country.[4]

In July 2015, the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) from the Public Prosecutor’s Office began the first of three search phases in an area where, according to testimony from neighbouring communities and former paramilitaries like Juan Carlos Villa Saldarraiga, alias ‘Movil 8’ of the ‘Cacique Nutibara’ Block, they buried hundreds of bodies of people who had been murdered and disappeared between 2001 and 2003, including during Operation Orion.[5] Nonetheless, after five months of excavations, no remains were found. In February 2017 the second phase of the search will start in another part of La Escombrera.[6]


Stories from the field: La Escombrera


Footnotes:

[1] PBI Colombia: Operación Orión – 10 años después las mujeres siguen buscando a sus familiares, 27th November 2012
[2] Pacifista: La Escombrera, “una gota de esperanza en un mar de impunidad”, 15th July 2015
[3] El Tiempo: Comenzó la excavación en ‘la fosa común urbana más grande del mundo’, 27th July 2016
[4] El Tiempo: ‘La búsqueda en La Escombrera será muy lenta, difícil y costosa’, 27th December 2016; El Tiempo: Comenzó la excavación en ‘la fosa común urbana más grande del mundo’, 27th July 2016
[5] Pacifista: Op. Cit.; El Tiempo: : La Escombrera aún esconde la verdad de los desaparecidos, 16th December 2015
[6] El Tiempo: La Escombrera aún esconde la verdad de los desaparecidos, 16th December 2015

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