COLOMBIA REFLECTION: A voice is heard in Ramah/Segovia (Matthew 2:16-18)


18 December 2010
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: A voice is heard in Ramah/Segovia
(Matthew 2:16-18)
by Chris Knestrick


"A voice was heard in Ramah, 

wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children; 

she refused to be consoled, 

because they are no more."
-Matthew 2:18



Throughout history, governments have resorted to barbaric
acts of violence to remain in power. 
In Christian tradition, the Gospel of Matthew reminds us of this reality
through the story of the massacre of the Holy Innocents.  The history of
the Patriotic Union in Colombia is reminds us that massacres of innocents
continue 2000 years later.  

The Gospel narrative of Matthew clearly places its massacre
story in political context.  Herod the Great, a king of Judea, Samaria,
and Galilee for Imperial Rome, thought that the birth of Jesus would be a
threat to his power.  Fearing that his throne might be in jeopardy, he
called on his army and “gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its
vicinity who were two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16).  

the time of Herod, this type of state repression was common.  The
historian Josephus wrote that Herod “never stopped avenging and punishing
every day those who had chosen to be of the party of his enemies.” 

 The Patriotic Union (UP) was a legitimate political party
that formed in 1985 when Colombia’s revolutionary army, the FARC, reached an
agreement with Colombia’s President, Belisario Betancur.  The Patriotic
Union was presented as an exit for FARC members who believed the electoral
process offered a solution to Colombia’s decades-old civil war.  
 The UP quickly gained popularity
throughout Colombia, and in their first elections, they elected five senators,
nine congress members, fourteen state representatives, twenty-three mayors, and
351 city council members. 

  But as happened in Herod’s time, those that felt their
power was in jeopardy responded.  Since 1985, the UP party members have
been victims of thirty massacres and 6,000 assassinations.  

One of the massacres took place in
Segovia, Antioquia.  From 1985 to
1988, the city of Segovia was seeking political change after the UP won the
elections in March 1998.  However, the “Herods” of the time
did not like the change.  On the night of 11 November 1988, paramilitary
forces, with the help of the Colombian Army, entered the city, killed
forty-three people, and wounded forty. 
This act was specific in its mission: to rid the city of all UP


Today, what happened in Segovia is referred to as
“genocide,” according to the U.N. General Assemblies’ definition as
“acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Almost all UP members have
been murdered with the help of the United States by Colombian state security
forces and paramilitary forces.  The few survivors that remain and the human
Rights groups that seek to remember the victims, like Rachel in the Matthew
story, “refuse to be consoled” until justice and reparations are a


For twenty-two years, Segovia has wept for her children in
silence.  However, on 11 November
2010, CPT Colombia watched as survivors of the massacre publicly commemorated
it for the first time—twenty-two years of fear finally overcome.DSCF0628


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