PBI-Colombia present at the 5th Festival of Memories that remembers Operation Genesis

Published by Brent Patterson on

On February 29, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted, “The 5th Festival of Memories began yesterday in the municipality of Turbo.”

PBI-Colombia adds, “At the coliseum where 23 years ago, thousands of families had to take refuge after Operation Genesis, and live in difficult and unhealthy conditions, survivors, victims, relatives were gathered to honor memory, and request guarantees of non-repetition in the building a true peace.”

PBI-Colombia has previously noted that many of those displaced by Operation Genesis lived in the sports stadium in Turbo for three years in appalling conditions. 

WOLA has explained, “The violence committed in February 1997 in the Cacarica River Basin in Chocó happened while Colombia’s 17th Brigade was engaging in a military operation called Operation Genesis led by now retired General Rito Alejo del Rio.”

Thousands of Afro-Colombians were displaced in that Operation and farmer Marino Lopez Mena was murdered.

PBI-Colombia has noted, “The paramilitaries arrived in a wave of violence, captured farmer Marino Lopez, decapitated him and played football with his head in front of several community members. Army troops were stationed just a few hundred metres away.”

In 2011, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) represented the public interest in a challenge at the Inter-American Court of Human Right.

On December 26, 2013, the Court found Colombia responsible for not preventing the displacement of people and the murder of Marino Lopez. The Court ordered Colombia to take a series of steps to remedy these injustices.

Prior to that ruling, as PBI-Colombia has noted, “In August 2012, [retired Army General] del Rio was found guilty and sentenced by the Colombian justice system to 25 years’ prison for the murder of Marino Lopez.” In 2017, PBI-Colombia provided the update that, “Del Rio was released on 27 September, under the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP).”

In December 2019, Contagio Radio reported on the 4th Festival of Memories that took place in the Community of Life and Work La Balsita (and on the previous three festivals held that year) organized by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission.

PBI has accompanied the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission since 1994.

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