Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | January 19, 2012

Dear Soldier, I want to thank you.

Dear counter-guerrilla soldier:

The media and the human rights organizations highlight the cases of “false positives,” in which a few rotten apples in your group, perhaps fishing for awards and to ascend positions, killed and dressed up poor men and presented them as guerrilla casualties. Semana magazine won an award or two for its reporting of the military prison, which was turned into your group’s resort.

But there are 214,000 of your soldiers trained in counter-guerrilla.

You spend months interned in the jungle, not only away from your family, but away from clean and dry clothes, proper sanitation and real food. You spend years after the heads of the FARC and sometimes, you sleep camouflaged in FARC-dug latrines, the bugs eating your nose, your ears, your leather boots.

You watch your friends die in battle; then, you must remove their oozy insides so they won’t burst from the heat before the helicopter can land and take them away.

You hear of your mother passing only months after. Your son is born and you meet him when he’s already walking. Of course, you were in the middle of the jungle and the news could not reach you.

You retire from the Armed Forces and the only skills you have are as a security guard or a bodyguard. You lament and say you are human armor. Meanwhile, you are still suffering from malaria, leismanisis and post traumatic stress disorder. You take up a liking for the bottle.

I am sorry for these things.

I want to say gracias. Let me say it again, MUCHAS GRACIAS. Maybe it doesn’t mean much, maybe nothing at all. But I am glad I told you.

Paula

You can write letters to soldiers via Querido Soldado.

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Responses

  1. I understand the “thank you” blog post but I personally feel a “I am sorry” makes much more sense.

    Dear soldiers,

    I am sorry that we have failed as a society in where the only good employment opportunities that exist for poor young Colombians are going to the military and fighting a senseless war where thousands of people die every year.

    I am sorry that ~50% of Colombians still live in poverty and have limited education and job opportunities.

    I am sorry that our military budget is larger than our education budget.

    I am sorry that our government is corrupt and continues to spread like a cancer, which makes it difficult to fix.

    Please know that many of us are trying to improve Colombia so that your children will have a better and safer future that won’t require you to make the ultimate sacrifice.

    Simón

    • Simon:

      Absolutely. Great point. I am sorry is, sadly, quite correct.

      Paula


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