COLOMBIA: Lilia’s Story

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CPTnet 
25 March 2013
COLOMBIA: Lilia’s Story

 
  Lilia with Julie Hart

by Phil Hart

Clipped version.  For the full story, click here.

This is Lilia’s story. Julie and I have been taking
shifts in the 24 hour a day accompaniment of Lilia in her home a few miles from
our office in the city. She is spending most of her time resting in her room
after her recent surgery. Now she’s sitting with me in the in main room of her
small brick house in a barrio with dirt streets and many poor families side by
side.

“In
1998 we were living close to the military base outside of San Pablo when my
husband was killed on the road on his way home. Witnesses told me the killers
were dressed in paramilitary uniforms. Some of them were known to us to be
members of the local police. When I went to report his death at the police
station, they told me my husband had been involved with the guerrillas and that
I should just be quiet and leave. When I kept looking for someone to support my
case, I received threats against my four children and myself. The police finally
offered to fly me and my children to another city far away for resettlement.
When we arrived at the airport they wanted to put us on two small separate
planes, saying it would be too much weight for one. I was hesitant, and as we
were about to board our local priest arrived and persuaded me not to board. He
told me later he was convinced I never would have landed in the plane. He and
others worked to find secure transportation out of the area for us. That’s when
I came to Barrancabermeja. I learned later that the priest and other who had
help us escape had also been murdered.”

According
to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the Colombian government’s total of just under 4
million displaced persons since 2000 wouldn’t include Lilia and her children. Still, that total is
almost double the next largest group of displaced persons in the
world.

Lilia
continues, “After we came to this barrio, I found there were many other families
who had lost loved ones just as we did, and in 2004 together we founded the
Regional Association of Victims. We have over a thousand members, and now I’m
the president.”

Lilia
has always known she was irritating the political status quo. She has received
threats against her life, but they have appeared randomly, have been vague and
were usually many months apart. Even so, she never travels alone. Lately the
threats have been different.  Read More

Phil Hart, a Christian Peacemaker Teams reservist from Colombus, Ohio (USA), spends a month each year with the Colombia team.

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