“And the worst of all is when the things happen to you and you can’t do anything,” said María, a displaced woman in Colombia who has endured abuses by guerrillas, paramilitaries and the army. “And you have to just watch and simply be silent. If you say something, it will happen all the same. That’s when I saw that the only real right we have as people is to be silent. Maybe that’s the real right I’ve exercised here, in Colombia. It’s watch and be silent, if you want to survive.”
LAWGEF is pleased to publish this selection from a book coming out in 2012 from McSweeney’s Voice of Witness, by editors Max Schoening and Sibylla Brodzinsky. This will be a powerful collection of oral histories, compiling the life stories of a selection of Colombia’s over 5 million internally displaced people. In their own words, narrators recount their lives before displacement, the reasons for their flight, their personal tragedies and struggles to rebuild their lives. By amplifying these unheard voices through the intimacy of first person narrative, this Voice of Witness book aims to increase awareness of Colombia’s human rights catastrophe and illuminate the human impact of the country’s ongoing war.