Colombia: official apology in 1988 massacre

In a public ceremony held in the central plaza of Segovia, Antioquia department, representatives of the Colombian government on Dec. 20 formally acknowledged the state's responsibility in the Nov. 11, 1988 massacre, in which 43 residents were slain by paramilitary troops who fired indiscriminately as they swept through the town's streets. The ceremony, preceded by a march from the town's cemetery to the central plaza, was overseen by Guillermo Rivera, presidential advisor in human rights, and members of the government's Unit for Victim Reparations. Rivera admitted the massacre had been ordered by local politicians in response to the victory of the leftist Patriotic Union in the town's municipal elections. (El Espectador, Bogotá, Dec.. 20)

In a similar ceremony Dec. 5, a delegation from the FARC guerillas, led by commander "Pastor Alape" traveled to Bojayá, Chocó, to formally apologize to residents for the May 2, 2002 fire-bombing of the town's church, which killed 79 and left over 100 injured. The fire-bombing came amid a battle in the town between the FARC and paramilitary troops. Some 300 inhabitants had taken refuge in the church during the battle. (Colombia Reports, Dec. 7; El Espectador, Bogotá, Dec. 6)