Oscar Alexander Morales Tejada, then 26 years old, disappeared on December 31, 2007. He traveled from Fusagasugá to Cúcuta on the 24th of that month in order to sell clothes and meet with his brother.
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They told me what one least wants to hear: ‘We have already found your son. He is dead’
“I love you very much. You are the best mom in the worldYou have taught me many values, to be a very good son, to be a correct person, not to do harm to anyone. Don’t worry, nothing is going to happen to me, I know it because your prayers protect me ”, were Óscar’s last words to Doris, who treasures them with her soul and repeats, over and over again, so as not to forget them.
In the following days she tried to call him and his cell phone went to voicemail. The days passed and there was still no news of her son, so Doris reported to the Fusagasugá Prosecutor’s Office her disappearance.
(In context: Twelve years on the trail of a son marked ‘false positive’)
Two weeks later, Doris had a bad feeling: “I was in bed with my husband and at 10 at night, I had a connection from mother to son, I felt that something was detaching from my belly, it hurt a lot, I felt chills and it was the life that was slowly slipping away for him. That was the time of his death, he would be thinking of me.
On January 16, 2008, the Army reported several men as killed in combat in the village of El Reposo in the municipality of El Copey, Cesar. However, only three years later – on June 13, 2011 – the Fusagasugá Prosecutor’s Office would confirm to Doris that her son was on that list.
“They told me what one least wants to hear: ‘We have already found your son. He is dead‘. At once they marked him and damaged his honor. That he was supposedly in a subversive group and that he died in a confrontation with the Army in El Copey ”. Doris reaffirms that this is not true and, therefore, has fought tirelessly to clear her son’s name and prove that he was not a guerrilla.
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I was bursting, screaming, I didn’t know what to do. I asked him where he was and they told me it was in a grave at El Copey. I told them: he is not, we do not know where El Copey is, my son was in Cúcuta
Today, Oscar’s case is part of the 6,402 investigated by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) as victims of extrajudicial executions, or also called ‘false positives‘. Innocent young people who were presented as alleged guerrillas killed in combats between 2002 and 2008 to obtain recognition and benefits such as permits, travel, breaks and cash payments. The JEP, within case 03 known as ‘false positives’, determined that it was a widespread criminal practice in various areas of the country, mainly in Antioquia, the Caribbean Coast, North Santander, Huila, Casanare and Meta.
Along with Óscar, Octavio Bilbao Becerra and Germán Leal Pérez were also murdered, all buried in the common grave located in El Copey. According to the file, the three were recruited by the same man and handed over to the Bombarda 1 platoon of the Artillery Battalion No. 2, La Popa, based in the city of Valledupar.
A decade later their families they keep claiming their bodies and to justice that condemns those responsible.
(Also read: Ten years later, the Morales family is still looking for their son)
The Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD) declared the alternate cemetery of El Copey as a place of interest for their work and the JEP granted precautionary measures to protect the area. Despite all the measures, the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) denounces that victims of COVID-19 were buried in the place and the Mayor’s Office continues with works, which hinders locating the bodies.
Between 2017 and 2018, two exhumations have been carried out in the area without positive results for the families of Óscar, Octavio and Germán. However, the bodies that have been recovered and that belonged as Unidentified have been handed over to the respective families.
(In context: ‘False positives’: El Copey mayor would have followed works in the cemetery)
They, the military, for every son, for every boy they murdered, they earned so miserably 200,000, 100,000; other vacations, days off … Let the full force of the law fall on them
Then they visited the cemetery and showed that the Mayor’s Office continues to build in the area, although it is protected. “I’m going to look for him until he appears, but seeing all those obstacles that there are, one terrifies and gives him impotence, like he rests and takes up again with more momentum because they cannot win. The bad guys cannot win, there are fewer bad guys and more good guys ”.
“They, the military, for every child, for every boy they murdered, they earned so miserably 200,000, 100,000 pesos; others, vacations, days off … Let them fall under the full force of the law, but here there is none. The law does not protect us ”, he questions.
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I thought that with the peace agreement the military were going to speak and tell the truth, but one realizes that there is a lot of impunity
“Justice has failed us, we do not know the truth and there is much to confess. To this day we do not know what happened to my son or where he is. For me that is not justice ”, he adds.
At least 11 virtual audiences have been advanced in the Oscar process. Doris says that the hardest part of these proceedings is hearing from soldiers “I did not participate in that, but I do know that this was happening.” “I listen to them and it makes me angry because they don’t know what to invent to justify the deaths of boys and even minors, I often prefer to turn off the camera.”
(Also read: The struggle of an ex-military after stepping on an antipersonnel mine)
Justice has failed us, we do not know the truth and there is much to confess. To this day we do not know what happened to my son or where he is. For me that is not justice
Doris lowers her gaze, feels tired and goes back to: “This has been torture, one is dying slowly. They have no forgiveness, they ask God for forgiveness, they ask for forgiveness that they do not feel. They do not deserve forgiveness from anyone or from mothers, I would not forgive them, surely not.
The lawyer Sebastián Bojacá, coordinator of criminal litigation of the CCJ, maintains that the statements of the military have been contradictory and do not coincide in the times in which the alleged combat lasted, and that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the responsibility of the soldiers from the La Popa battalion. “We want to know the step by step, who received it, how they were deceived. It is those details that contribute to the truth. We continue to insist that they call in the military who have immediate responsibility for these events, ”he says.
“The JEP has achieved something in which the ordinary justice was delayed. Progress has been made, but the truth is that several years have passed and what families want to know is what happened. The JEP is in time to change the history of this case and the country ”, he adds.
This has been torture, one is dying slowly. They have no forgiveness, they ask God for forgiveness, they ask for forgiveness that they do not feel. I would not forgive them, surely not
“He was a wonderful being, he didn’t hurt anyone, he loved to sing music by Vicente Fernández, he danced spectacular salsa. He knew how to make me smile and buy me so that I could give him more food (laughs) ”, and he points out:“ Not looking for him would be to help them in impunity, my son was not a criminal, he did not take a sweet from anyone or 5 cents and I will continue to claim justice to the end ”.
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