Camilo Returns [Oneiric Record]*



Cuadernos de Música, Artes Visuales y Artes Escénicas, vol. 14, no. 2, 2019

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

Abstract: “Camilo Returns,” by Javier Giraldo Moreno S.J, is an article/ fiction that served as a prologue for the book CAMILO - Visionary Messages, first published by the Memoria Histórica Project in February 2011 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the birth of Father Camilo Torres Restrepo to social movements. This oneiric record tells the story of a meeting in which Father Javier invites Father Camilo to visit the beloved Colombia he fought so hard for, and thus replicate Father Camilo’s messages to the different sectors of society. The story provides the historical background of the country through Father Camilo’s voice and notes the validity of his messages that, presented by Father Giraldo as a discursive practice, are commented by a leader of each sector. The text connects the language in terms of praxis, the territories of critical political and artistic practices, unofficial history, the Theology of Liberation and the struggles for justice, revealing the links between them and presenting them as a vital resource to understand the urgency of implementing the peace agreement, signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.

Keywords Theology of Liberation, Colombian armed conflict, Implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia, Discursive practice.

Resumen: Camilo Regresa, de Javier Giraldo Moreno S.J, es un artículo/ ficción que sirvió de prólogo al libro “CAMILO - Mensajes visionarios”, publicado por primera vez por el Proyecto Memoria Histórica en febrero de 2011 para conmemorar los 45 años del nacimiento del Padre Camilo Torres Restrepo a los movimientos sociales. Este registro onírico narra un encuentro en el que el Padre Javier invita al Padre Camilo a que visite la Colombia que tanto amó y por la que tanto luchó, para así reproducir los mensajes del Padre Camilo a los diversos sectores sociales. Este relato sitúa históricamente el panorama colombiano a través de la voz del Padre Camilo y señala la vigencia de sus mensajes que, presentados por el Padre Giraldo a modo de práctica discursiva, son comentados por algún líder de cada sector. Este texto conecta el lenguaje en términos de praxis, los territorios de las prácticas políticas y artísticas críticas, la historia no oficial, la Teología de la Liberación y las luchas por la justicia, haciendo visibles los nexos entre estas presentándolas como un recurso vital para entender la urgencia de la implementación del acuerdo de paz, firmado en 2016 entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP.

Palabras clave: Teología de la Liberación, Conflicto armado colombiano, Implementación del acuerdo de paz en Colombia, Práctica discursiva.

Resumo: “Camilo Retorna”, de Javier Giraldo Moreno S.J, é um artigo/ ficção que serviu de prólogo para o livro CAMILO - Mensajes visionarios, publicado pela primeira vez pelo Projeto Memória Histórica em fevereiro de 2011 para comemorar o 45º aniversário do nascimento do Padre Camilo Torres Restrepo para os movimentos sociais. Este registro onírico fala de uma reunião em que o Padre Javier convida o Padre Camilo para visitar a Colômbia que ele tanto amava e pela qual tanto lutou para reproduzir assim as mensagens do Padre Camilo aos diferentes setores sociais. Esta história situa historicamente o panorama colombiano através da voz do Padre Camilo e aponta a validade de suas mensagens que, apresentadas pelo Padre Giraldo como uma prática discursiva, são comentadas por um líder de cada setor. O texto conecta a linguagem em termos de práxis, os territórios das práticas políticas e artísticas críticas, a história não oficial, a Teologia da Libertação e as lutas pela justiça, tornando visíveis os vínculos entre estes, apresentando-os como um recurso vital para entender a urgência da implementação do acordo de paz, que foi assinado em 2016 entre o governo da Colômbia e as FARC-EP.

Palavras-chave: Teologia da Libertação, conflito armado colombiano, implementação do acordo de paz na Colômbia, Prática discursiva.

I hesitated to attend an unexpected visitor when the doorman told me that someone was looking for me but refused to give his name. However, a strange feeling prompted me to ignore my precarious security measures and hurry down to the lobby, evidently intrigued, to check who it was. His kind and expressive face instantly drove any trace of fear away. I decided to respect his anonymity. I presumed he was a peasant with indigenous features for his informality, his outfit, his manners and his way of speaking. Perhaps, he was a worker or a student in precarious conditions, and certainly a social activist or politician with a catching honesty. He was very frugal transmitting his message, wrapped in phrases, gestures and gazes that consolidated my trust. I was asked to go to the airport to receive someone whom I would certainly recognize by mere appearance and to assist him running errands that he would explain to me. This messenger rapidly said goodbye as if obeying a self-assumed discipline with full conviction.

That night, the airport was unusually uncrowded. Maybe, that is why the landing plane’s noise was highly louder. The solitude, the artificiality of lighting, which I perceived dimmer and more mysterious that night, and the observation of those enormous crafts overshadowing in a distant and wholly full of mystery firmament, brimmed me with emotions that seemingly placed me out of time and space, breaking apart the limits of the before and the after; of the here and there and “beyond”. Bewitched by such emotions, through the outer door of the immigration area I suddenly saw coming a so well-known figure, but it radicalized the spell of my premonitions. The coordinates of time and space seemed to confuse me, and I had no choice but to walk to him, almost like a sleepwalker, to greet him: Camilo, Is that you? “Yes, it’s me; thank you for welcoming me.” We hugged.

I was totally bewildered, but a few seconds later I started to accept the disruption of my time and space schemes to be able to live without any trauma what being offered to me. Camilo was quiet but neither his figure nor his aura coincided with my eschatological imaginaries. I did not know where to take him and I expected him to tell me. However, before taking a taxi, I dared to ask him: Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? I was just asked to go with you.

With the same kind expression of that morning’s messenger, he told me: “I want to visit my country. I hold it in my own heart and it still hurts. I want to talk again, for a while, with those who also hold it in their hearts, though it might be with opposing feelings and interests. I just ask you to take me to a few places where their fate is gambled on.”

At that very moment, I remembered a passage from Book of the Dead of Ancient Egypt, in which the deceased, navigating in the eschatological mysterious spaces, resists to the radical separation of the body from the soul (the psychic energy that has animated it) and from the spirit (memories hallowed by death). It imprecated the spirits and forces that serve to the god with the following words: “grant thou, that my soul may come unto me from wheresoever it may be (…) Make thou me to stand up like those beings who are like unto Osiris and who never lie down in death (...) Grant that this soul of Osiris Ani may come forth triumphant before the gods, and triumphant before you, from the eastern horizon of heaven, to follow unto the place where it was yesterday, in peace”. In the verses that follow the deceased confronts the maleficent spirit from beyond that customarily chops the head of the deceased off and rips their foreheads up, in order the erase their memories and prevent them to pronounce again the most precious words they keep in their hearts. The deceased must rebuke it with this incantation: “Dost thou want to chop off my head and to rip up my forehead? Dost thou want to extinguish my memory? Dost thou want to put a gag on my mouth to stop coming out the Words of Power that I carry inside me? Stop, evil force. I command thee by the prodigious force the two sentences uttered by the goddess Isis, pronounced when thou camest to fling remembrance at the mouth of Osiris, under the orders of the heart of Set, his enemy (...) Just as Osiris banished thee so that thine abomination wouldst not penetrate him, so I drive thee away from me, because of thou art the enemy of Shu, the god of light.” 1

The resemblance with reality was startling. Camilo withstood remaining lying down in death. He withstood the severance of his head, seat of his intelligence and his light, and his word’s gagging by the maleficent spirits, enemies of the God of light and transparency. These ancient words comforted me in my perplexity and bewilderment. I tough: what joy would be ungagging Camilo’s words, watching the light of his mind shine brightly again, watching his physical and psychic energy retracing our paths taken up by terror, ignominy and cowardice. I left, then, my perplexity, and I accepted to live the adventure in which I was already enrolled in.

I suddenly remembered that Fernando, a very well placed friend in the Establishment, had told me a few days earlier that tonight the most powerful guilds of the country would hold an extraordinary meeting. It was summoned in the most exclusive hotel of Bogota and in there they were going to discuss crucial issues of the political and economic situation. It came to my mind phone calling Fernando. Would you mind giving me access to the guild meeting? I’m planning to go with a character who will surely delight them to listen. “Let’s try it”, Fernando replied. “I’ll introduce my cousin to you, he’s the president of the Banking Association and you’ll incentive his motivation”. Well then, let’s meet in the club’s lobby in a few minutes. “Alright”.

In a few minutes, the taxi took us to the Capital Center’s lobby. With his plastic cards full of magnetic codes, Fernando helped us to get through several security rings until the penthouse, where the exclusive lounge was located, the presidents of the guilds were drinking whiskey at will while debating. Fernando was unceasingly looking askance at Camilo with a certain perplexity, as trying to figure him out but with insurmountable doubts. When he introduced me to his cousin, it seems he immediately recognized him and gestured like someone who wakes up from a deep dream willing to connect with reality again. Finally, with a gesture of resignation, he kindly greeted Camilo and invited him to come in. All gazes turned to Camilo and a deep silence spread over the room. It lasted for some minutes, while the potentates accepted to dive in that scenario in which the borders of present and past faded; and where fiction and reality exchanged their masks.

“Father Camilo” —the president of the Guilds’ Council solemnly said— “you don’t know how delighted we are to have you here with us tonight. We live crucial moments in our nation’s future and, as you well know, in this Council, decisions of definitive importance shall be taken. The President has just left. You almost meet him in the elevator. He has always taken our perspectives into account since we manage the key sectors of the country’s development. No one can disregard our opinions and options without causing great jeopardies. Thanks to us, the country’s economy has never collapsed and our indicators have always remained at healthy levels. Nor have we forgotten the underprivileged sectors; we have opened loan portfolios that have been accessible to broad layers of the poor. Of course, levels of poverty and misery are still high, but this is due to the global and structural crisis that we cannot yet overcome. The whole world today suffers the scandalous layers of poverty and the hunger phenomenon. We have not let Colombia get to the same levels like those in Africa. I hope you, Father Camilo, wisely judge the efforts we were doing with the maturity of your years and your heroic sufferings, which we all acknowledge. We intend to preserve a healthy economy and a country without dictatorships but with security and investment incentives. The time of those delusional dreams has gone by. Most of us, in our youth, were revolutionaries. Then after, the blows of life made us grow. You know it well, socialism was a chimaera that only brought poverty and more injustice to the countries that adopted it. Revolutionary utopias only induce chaos and economic crisis. I am sure, Father Camilo, that ‘the beyond’ shall have let you assess your heroic death and grow older your vision of things to help us today, with your wisdom and your example, to build a country in peace and in asocial harmony of classes, which continue to progress as it has been doing in the last decades. Nowadays, foreign investment is exemplary in our country. That brings development. The industry is moving forward. The articulation of transnational capital with national capital is a driving force for progress. The economic openness has created incentives for the investors, which are not seen elsewhere. All those royalties have helped us to reinforce security so that both foreigners and nationals can invest without fear. The control of the reduced terrorist groups, which no longer share the same ideals you instilled in them, Father Camilo, otherwise, they are now mere criminals and drug traffickers, they are under total control. This country is moving forward, Father Camilo. Help us to consolidate it in peace and in progress rails.”

Several guild leaders were supporting one or another aspect of the speech, while Camilo silently listened, with notable concentration, to all interventions. He did not accept any liquor or appetizer. Although, it was not well taken by some of them who rapidly were easier about it by thinking that the regime of eternity must be different and surely more austere.

Camillo finally intervened while all gazes were curiously, but fearfully and suspiciously, focused on him. The serenity and conviction of his words indeed seemed to place him above all risk. With great serenity, he compared the misery and violence standards of his time with the current ones and he made them realize that deterioration had been progressive. He thanked them for listening, although he asked them not to take his words as personal attacks, but wondering instead, at least for a few minutes, about all country’s wellbeing, just by picturing themselves in the shoes of the most excluded people. “I cannot understand,” he told them, “how the president sets up and negotiates his resolutions with you, and even he always chooses ministers and seniors officials from among your social group, since you are a slight layer of this country. Don’t you think that the situation would be different if rulers daily consulted with workers, farmers, indigenes, and inhabitants of poor and miserable slums, and from among them chose their officials? Don’t you think that profit and income should not be the engines of the economy, at least not of those economic sectors that must satisfy the most urgent needs of a human being? Do you consider ethic that big health companies, of clinics, hospitals and pharmaceutical laboratories draw their economic power by exploiting human pain? Don’t you believe that all companies, programs and projects related to basic needs, such as food, housing, healthcare and education, shouldn’t submit to the strict logic of profitability, but to the planning driven by the desire of maximum coverage governed by the State? Today, Colombia’s map is swamped with transnational companies that plunder the country’s resources with the aim of exploiting them in the shortest time fractions by producing the highest standards of profit, of which Colombians don’t get any benefit or participation. For that, these companies destroy the environment, expel native populations, and paramilitarize the territories as a security guarantee for the investors. That is what is called ‘development’ and ‘progress’ under the influence of theorists of the rich world who have convinced all their worldwide satellites that this will bring well-being, but they don’t cease to produce catastrophes and misery. If the State listened to its rebels, it would overcome the drug traffic collateral damage that prevents it from understanding that whoever claiming for his rights must be heard, and not be labeled as terrorists just to justify his assassination. How is it possible that the country is looking forward to signing ‘free trade agreements’ with highly dissimilar nations that only offer, in return, disadvantages disguised as benefits in order to plunder even more its resources and to force it to take charge of their detritus? I sorrowfully watch how the most basic items of the Frente Unido’s program would solve the most urgent anguishes of my people, but it is even more painful to realize that in the last 40 years, the State has murdered hundreds of thousands of Colombians who have taken up the cause to some extent. I see a country where poor people cannot even communicate with fellow ones, or listen to their truth, given that mass media build up and broadcast fake, partial or slanted, truths, and sell them as the ‘national reality’. Alternative media, like ‘El Frente Unido’ that I founded, try to shout out the other truth, the one of those from below who finally are the immense majority. Due to their excessively tiny size, they are atoms that cannot have an impact on the virtual and media world that imposes a false reading with sophisticated co-optive mechanisms. Think that this country, with its immense resources and its people, could live in a different and less inhuman way if we all accept, as a basic standard, to love our fellow citizens.”

As Camilo spoke, the potentates’ fixed gazes became less concentrated and lost their way into the ceiling and into the psychedelic paintings on the walls. It was evident that the speech has suddenly taken for them an “idealistic” and “romantic” side, bringing tales up that they had not heard about a long time ago. Quite a few of them interpellated Camilo since they felt in an “opponent field”. Discussions among them always had a framework and budgets that were completely absent that day; even more, they seemed delegitimized. The framework was the economic technic shaped to the conjunctural needs of transnational capitals. The control of the State by the big financial conglomerates was under their estimations. This control was covertly projected into the powerful traditional political parties, owners of the State, leaving their fight against “narco-terrorism” as an ethic coverup of such powers, thus justifying their most affected legitimacy, from which they always found their “motivations” and pretexts to wipe out all social movements against them. An ethical-based speech, such as Camilo’s, which invited them to face the social tragedy from fundamental ethical principles was distracting, disconcerting, and it took their logic and structural foundation from them; they were placed in unknown territories where they did not know how to pull the strings. They had no other choice but being polite, and setting to future events the discussion, without any time or space coordinates, of “so profound” and interesting” approaches.

The silence, increasingly more prevailing, demanded to put an end to the improvised and strange encounter. It was almost dawn and the cellphone calls between magnates and their drives were conclusive to the dialogue. Farewells were charged with formalities. As we took the taxi on the avenue, the early dawn lights were rising above the eastern mountains. I tool Camilo to my cloister; I locked him in one of the guest rooms and begged him not to leave while I got some rest for a couple of hours, because, unlike him who did not reveal any trace of tiredness, I did need some sleep.

When I woke up, I realized it was Sunday. I had a compromise to celebrate the Eucharist in a marginalized corner of Jerusalén neighborhood. I thought to myself that taking Camilo could be thrilling. Loaded with my portable altar briefcase, I picked him up in his room and we furtively left the cloister. I forestalled packing a larger alb, more fitted to Camilo’s height because I was thinking of asking him to lead the Eucharist.

Before taking the bus that would take us to Jerusalén, we stopped to do a memorable visit to the Cathedral. I could notice Camilo was deeply moved and got teary-eyed. He was grasping all details since a small group of people was coming into a Eucharist that later started. On our way out, near the door, Camilo told me: “my church hurts in the depths of my soul. Multitudes no longer attend, as before, and those who come are way number than ever. The church lost the opportunity to use its moral and social force to promote and lead a deep social transformation towards a more human and just model, following Jesus’ message. It distorted the message of the Second Vatican Council and the one of the Medellin’s Conference and it entrenched itself once more into the search for unearthly salvation and a sermon of submission to evil powers of this world. Its message no longer touches on our explosive actualities. God and time will judge it.” Pondering sad emotions, we both silently left the place to take the bus.

In the way to Jerusalén Neighborhood, the humble people who get on and off the bus did not recognize Camilo. Only an elderly couple was staring at him, whispering each other and then starting again, but they did not dare to approach or ask anything. When I proposed Camilo to lead the Eucharist, he said “no” since he had made a historic choice before his superiors and did not want to break it. He had theologized his painful pact. With this message, he was still preparing the moment when an authentic Eucharist could be celebrated, in which exploiters and exploited would no longer converge in the Lord’s table, but instead, a fraternal dinner was possible after achieving a real reconciliation at the structures’ level. Respecting such pure ideals, I decided not to celebrate either the Eucharist in his presence. The rest of the trip. I silently kept myself thinking about how to face the community waiting for me to lead the Mass.

Once arriving at destination and walking across those unpaved streets of these slums where poverty hurts deeply, we engaged in a discussion about the lines of urban reforms. Doña María, along with her barefoot and seminude children, went out to greet us with a long-lasting smile. She was in charge of opening and preparing the small shanty-hall where we usually celebrated the Eucharist. I told her: Today, we’re not having Mass, Doña María. I want us to make to most of our time to chat with my friend here with me; his name is Camilo. She did not object and rapidly called forth the families that had been making of this community base. People were coming and they sat down on old tires, pieces of planks and broken bricks. The conversation was naturally taking the course on the most recent events in their lives: the young people murdered by the Police for being “gang” members; the electricity cut-off for being “illegal”; the winter disaster on the poor homes made of cardboard and tin; the eviction threats by the new urban plans. Camilo asked questions in bulk and people excitedly shared their tragedies. Without me realizing, Don Rafael had been away for a while and then suddenly showed up with a plastic bag full of cakes that he usually sells on the streets but wanted to offer them to the group. Just after him, Doña Carmen arrived with a bag full of Arepas; she said that she had got up earlier, more than usual because she wanted to present us with them to eat after the Mass. A short time after Julio came by, a poor young man who makes a living from washing cars and selling candy on the streets. He brought a short bag of guava paste for the group; I discreetly whispered to him if would hardly affect his wretched budget to survive; he replied smiling: “I can starve to death, but don’t take away from me the joy I feel sharing this with you all.”

I was collecting the donations then to equally divide them among the group, but Camilo noticed my intentions and borrowed the Bible from me. When I handed it on to him, he excitedly read a passage about Feeding the Multitude in chapter 9 of the Gospel of Luke. According to Camilo, it was not about “the multiplication” rather “the division of the loaves”. After finishing, Camilo stayed in silence for a few moments with his eyes closed. Doña María interrupted the silence by saying: “It’s always said that Jesus was only speaking about eternal life, but we have to see how he was concerned about people’s food; about everyone having food to eat.” Yeison, a young man studying in a night school, said: “those five loaves and those two fish were a mere symbol; Jesus for sure told everyone: bring what you have, and we will share it among all. Jesus being a socialist has always been something hidden from us.” Don Pedro, a veteran construction worker, said: “the day we Christians did that, the world would change.” Doña Teresa, the 85-year-old community matriarch, rickety chair the only one seating on a rickety chair brought by the group, with her difficult breathing, softly and slowly said: “a true Christian community is the one that knows how to share and worry about those who have nothing to eat, those were Jesus’ teachings.”

While the people did their commentaries, I was slivering the Arepas, the cakes and the guava paste with the assistance of Doña Carmen; then after Don Luis Eduardo gave us a bunch of bananas that we also cut. Camilo, visibly moved, invited us all to thank the Lord because during the whole meeting, the presence of Jesus had been physically felt, and the reality of ideal fraternity for all society had been experienced. After the thanksgiving, we equally shared the meals from the mutual gifts, and we felt as we have been in a big feast. We said goodbye with warm hugs.

While walking once more across the muddied streets to take the bus back, Camilo got teary-eyed again and told me: “You tricked me, you got away with it: You made celebrate the Eucharist”. I replied: but I’m sure that this kind of Eucharist doesn’t break your institutional commitments. “I agree,” he said, “this kind of Eucharist arrives earlier than future’s authentic Eucharist; the one that we shall authentically celebrate after the revolution”.

Once on the bus, I remembered that the political movement Convergencia Alterativa (Alternative Convergence) —assembling important Left parties’ and social movements’ remains —, had convoked an assembly for that Sunday’s afternoon. Gerardo came to my mind, an activist friend whom I have always admired by his honesty and radicalism; he could grant us the access. I gave him a call and he replied that we would be more than welcome, although he warned me about being surely “admonished” for my infrequent company. I did not advise him of my companion, but he neither questioned me about him thanks to the great trust we had in each other.

When we got to the old building of the teachers’ union, we were astounded by a large number of posters hanging from all the walls, and the numberless graffities saturating all the spaces. In every corner, there were piles of folded banners and cardboard boxes filled up with brochures of all sizes and formats. It seemed ‘the palace of the words’, but the feeling one had when moving through hallways and rooms, was that they were frozen or embalmed. The vital conversations revolved around subjects far from the written messages. Soccer was the trending topic, and, above all, the last night’s rock concert in Simón Bolívar Park.

Full of discretion and curiosity, gazes were sluggishly focusing on Camilo. As people looked at him, shook their heads as banishing sleepless delusions. The whispering spread all over the place turning into agitation among the attendees: “Camilo is here! Listen up!” The rumor reached the President of the movement, who vigorously called to begin of the assembly. Before taking the floor, he approached Camilo in disbelief, greeted him, thus he was convinced that it was Camilo himself. He eagerly invited him to take the floor and the assembly started with these words: “Today, we have the privilege of having Father Camilo Torres among us. He wants to take now Colombia’s pulse. He wants to speak with us. Let’s explain to him our current juncture and listen to his wise appreciations.”

There was no applause. There was an absolute silence that seemed to combine feelings of all sort: fright, perplexity, anticipation, embarrassment, hope and challenge. The silence allowed the attendees to reconfigure their time and space mental schemes and immerse themselves in an unheard-of experience with a mixture of boldness and resignation. Little by little, ‘headmasters’ of ancient left parties, reduced into small groups over time, union and other social movement leaders as well started to take the floor. All of them summed up their own organization’s glorious history and came to an optimist and hopeful conclusion speech, in which the current Convergence would report the popular support reflected at the polls. Electoral calculations were part of it, some more upbeat than others about the possibility of getting seats in the Congress, Assemblies and Councils, and perhaps in mayorships and governorships.

The lineup of orators was long, and it lasted all afternoon long until dusk. However, Camilo did not seem tired, but he was evidently concerned. At some point, he dared to ask: “I would like to know what situation of the country’s grand majority is now. I have acknowledge that poverty and misery indicators are even higher today than in my times; that inequality index is one of the highest in the world; that there are several millions of displaced people, mostly farmers; that informal work is the strongest workforce; that land distribution is a remarkably more dramatic crisis than in my times, due to the increasing power of paramilitaries; that poor people’s dispersion is spine-chilling, and that mental alienation levels through media are unprecedented in history; that the military budget proportionally exceeds The United States’ that do colossal wars in various parts of the world; that Colombia has become a sort of paradise for multinational companies that plunder, under inconceivable privileges, the most important non-renewable natural resources; that electoral fraud has come to scandalous levels, up to admitting paramilitaries, who have bought the third part of the Congress. Face to these dramatic actualities, I am yearning for knowing the analysis and proposals that Convergencia has.”

Another silence followed Camilo’s questionings. Seemingly, almost no-one dared to answer his concerns. However, after that embarrassing silence, some of them requested the floor. They referred to very rigorous studies that some universities and technic teams were doing, and to platforms that, until then, were in discussion in the central committee of the Convergence. Communication was really abstract, repetitive and non-conclusive.

Running late into the night and before the progressive taking-off of an important part of the attendees, Camilo made a brief statement explicitly manifesting his deepest preoccupations. “The objective conditions that demand a change,” Camilo said, “are significantly more compelling today than ever before. I am concerned that this movement, which represents a lot of hopes for poor people of Colombia, does not figure a way out of the traditional vices that have always frustrated these hopes. I notice that the struggles among leaders demand more energy than the analysis of reality and the creation of alternative propositions. I notice a weaker relationship with the popular bases that still are the grand oppressed majority of the country. There is too much trust in the mechanisms regulated by the oppressing minorities, such as elections. There are little presence and solidarity with the resistance forms that the victims themselves find in their solitude and despair. Programmatical propositions are far too weak; they are few, drafted in abstract writing and do not imply fundamental transformation. I exhort you to more decidedly immerse yourselves in the poor people’s daily life to analyze, from there and with them, the actual structures; to review neighboring countries’ experiences regarding their shift in political polarity; to rebuild a movement that be rooted in an ethical commitment before the millions of Colombians that cannot sustain their need in the most basic levels, while the country’s wealth is plundered by the richest companies of the globe, and while anyone demanding minimum justice is murdered or imprisoned. In one word, I exhort you to love your most oppressed Colombian siblings, and to love them with effective love.”

The movement directors, concerned by the sense of pessimism and the guilt complex that this unheard-of and unscripted meeting could generate, decided to close the meeting with a record “The International” anthem. The closing speech of the President praised the historical meaning of Camilo’s figure, and pledged to receive and taking responsibility of his wise critics and recommendations; this speech, contrary to Camilo’s, did arouse the applause of the yet limited attendees.

While the leader took the floor, in a corner, I have met with Ernesto, whose discreet contacts with the insurgent forces were never a secret to me. I voiced him how important, I consider, it would be a possible meeting between Camilo and some guerrilla commanders. Ernesto agreed and assured me arranging an interview as soon as possible. “Keep your phone up,” he told me, “wait for my call before midnight. I think I’ll have a definite answer by then.”

Past eleven in the evening, at the moment Camilo was coming into his guest room in my cloister, where I discreetly cooped him up, my phone rang. Ernesto told me, in encoded message, the coordinates where a Jeep would pick us up in half an hour to take us to the mountains. I had enough time to pack some essentials in a small backpack, and we headed out again. The city was uncrowded, and Camilo said: “I feel once more like in that September night when I was picked up to be taken to the Santander mountains where I would join the guerrilla.” The Jeep picked us up on time as a Swiss clockwork’s precision and lead us to a mountain zone we could not recognize. There were several military roadblocks, but, curiously, when they got to Camilo, his identification was not demanded, and he was not physically inspected. I had the impression that they did not notice his presence since they did not even look at him. I had the curiosity to watch how he identified himself and faced the interrogation, but it had been frustrated. I knew very well that he was off any risk for the long term.

At some point, the Jeep left the road and went into a narrow path, almost like a bridleway. We got to a desolated farmhouse, next to it, a young farmer was waiting for us. The driver, who had been silent all along the trip, told us: “you can fully rely on him.” The driver said goodbye and left turning back around. The young man said: “we must walk for about an hour.” We set off. The heat was intense, and Camilo was excited. From time to time he shared memories of his short months in the guerrilla. We finally got to a forestry zone, we got into the woods and a uniformed group of twenty guerrilla members suddenly appeared next to an improvised hut sheltered by the thick forest. Everyone embraced Camilo with high affection. They offered us lemonade and we sat down to talk. I realized that Ernesto had been so careful and effective that he had managed to get together commanders and common guerrilla members both from the ELN and from the FARC. All gazes were on Camilo in the middle of respectful and emotional silence.

Camilo also excitedly spoke with them, but he could not hide certain sadness, doubts uncertainty overwhelmed him. “I wanted to gauge again my country’s actuality,” he told them. “I keep it deep in my heart and it still hurts. I am ravished to be here with you since this struggle is etched in my spirit, I mean, in that identity of mine that has been assumed by the world after being anointed by death, when I experienced the most heartbreaking and contradictory side of the war. That is why you still are a permanent part of my affections. I personally experienced how hard the war is. I clearly understood that, in Colombia’s reality, the armed struggle from the oppressed majority was fair and unavoidable and had to face a despicable and evil military power. I also understand that all means that belong to the war’s very essence are evil, and when war lasts long time, there will be a big risk they darken combatants’ hearts. Besides, time is always against the weakest ones; it lets powerful ones refine their power and evilness. All these calls into question the effectiveness of an unfair war. I would like to gauge your feelings about the effectiveness and the sense of this too long war that has brought so many deaths. It has degraded in so many levels that interpellates so many honest consciousnesses about their ability to achieve justice goals.”

The first to reply to him was a tall and burly guerrilla who identified himself as “Cesar”. “We’ve been fighting for more than 50 years and believe us, Father Camilo, we’ve made an effort to try different struggle ways, less demanding in lives and suffering. We’ve negotiated with different governments that let us revendicate otherwise the structural transformations we stand for, just to have an elementary social justice, but we’ve been always betrayed. The ruling class seeks to eliminate all social justice thought and they haven’t hesitated in wiping out and choking in blood whole legal parties, central unions, social movements, and popular communities where claims are rooted. If we still stand in war, it’s not by our bare will, it’s because of a moral imperative.”

A young guerrilla man, in whose face tragedy was reflected, continued by saying: “Father Camilo, I understand very well your worries and those of many honest people in this country. Our struggle is surely going to fail. The military power of this State of ours, always supported by the United States and by very powerful European governments, makes from our struggle an ant facing a lion. But one wonders: Is it ethical to fight only when there’s hope of success, and in this case, of military triumph? I don’t think so, Father Camilo. My family was all slaughtered; I’m the only survivor. I fight back in this war without the hope to win, but that’s my choice: to die to give a resounding ‘no’ to this criminal State; plainly and simply denying its legitimacy. I can’t find another purpose for my life. If I became accustomed to the system’s blackmails and lived according to its wicked legality, my consciousness would haunt me every day. I can’t see any other life meaning than opting for death as a resounding no to this inequity.”

A bearded guerrilla who wore thick glasses, and with a certain intellectual side, introduced to Camilo a historical and detailed analysis of paramilitary’s development. “The enlightened society, that set itself as ‘ethical’ and ‘right-respectful’, has always, hypocritically and/or naively, accused us of leading an irregular war. But they close their eyes before the State’s irregular one. All along with paramilitary, the Colombian State has found a way to breach all international norms of war by concealing its responsibility; this strategy has been advised and supported by the United States. Paramilitary has involved huge amounts of civilians to the war, and it has yet no shame in accusing us instead of this involving. This is one of the most critic key points in this war degradation. The State shows its ‘civil’ combatants as victims of our breaches of human rights, but they are actually combatants who use the most wicked methods of the State’s war.”

An elder guerrilla man, but with a professional appearance, added: “you, Father Camilo, surely know that some demobilizations of insurgent groups in this country have permitted them to do a legal activity and let them be part of government and administration. We’ve kept a close watch to these experiences. However, they are disappointing. Most of the demobilized ones are co-opted by the system and made part of its injustice machinery. Just some of them are isolated and helpless voices crying in the wilderness, and if they’re barely respected, it’s due to the system’s need to show itself as a ‘pluralist’, as long as they can strictly control those who don’t legitimatize the Status Quo.”

A guerrilla, a woman farmer whose face showed signs of an intense suffering as much as certain gentleness in her manners, which the bitterness of war hasn’t erased yet, added: “I am sure, Father Camilo, that you’re not shocked by the massive media images that are used to sell our identity. You understand the perversion in such manipulations because you vigorously informed on them and tried to counteract them with the popular media, such Frente Unido journal was. Even the cliché terms they use to identify us, “terrorists” and “narco-terrorists”, are very telling. Through them, the State and the Establishment seek to hide their awful terrorism and its dependence on drug traffic. Our lifestyle prevents us from being a match for the power of these lies, and for the disinformation made by big media. We can only appeal to moral resistance of honest minds that can see through the trickery’s monstrosity that main channels sell to the public.”

Another guerrilla woman, older than the one before, whose face was harder, and her speech was fluent and firm, also added: “No one gets it, Father Camilo, how those who lead this country’s public opinion, all of them professionals in the field who sustain data on important intellectuals and experts from different topics, but when it comes to insurgency, they lose their minds. They claim we have a huge wealth that we just don’t; they assume we get all weaponry free when they have at hand the information about the price of a single weapon; they believe that we can survive and sustain our struggle moneyless, or that we are allowed to get subvention by legal means; they believe that we can be compared to the State’s capacity to solve the social problems of the country, as if we were in power. Meanwhile, they justify and legitimize the State’s budget for war, which should be used in social investment; they find natural the government’s reply to our revindications with extermination policies, and they deny to even consider the fundamental reasons of our fair war; they legitimize our comrades’ deaths, and condemn us for killing those who kill us or seek to do it. It seems, though, that the country let itself lead by those insane people.”

All guerrillas present there took the floor, one after the other, men and women, youth and adults, commanders and common combatants, militants of ELN and FARC, while Camilo reinforced, in deep concentration, the dead-ends of the war. He did not dare to do any speech involving guidelines, directions or solutions. He got teary-eyed in different moments. Everyone could perceive his solidarity in the midst of their wraparound tragedies and dark moments. No one wanted to say goodbye, but inescapable time had come. Hugs were strong and long-lasting, but there were no words. The young farmer, who was our guide, told us the driver taking us out the zone should be getting to the other agreed point, but he shouldn’t stay more than some short minutes. We stepped up to avoid problems.

During our way back to Bogotá, we were overwhelmed with questions and strong impressions that imposed an almost absolute silence. Then, I thought Camilo should listen to some of those who have devoted themselves to the search for peace in the last years. Maria Cristina came immediately to my mind, during the last decades, she has been in almost all committees and spaces discussing peace. Her high birth allows her to have access to important people in the Establishment to link them into underlying discussions on peace; at the same time, her unquestionable social compromise has encouraged Left social leaders, popular fighters, and even insurgency urban spokespersons to reach her with confidence. I gave her a call, at some point on the road where the mobile signal was good, and I expressed her my wish to convene an emergency meeting of those who are key points in the debate on the peace. I did not give any reference on the person coming with me, but she understood that it was not a prudent way to do it. She promised that next day, she would summon the group in a room at the university in which she is a teacher.

When we arrived at the university, Maria Cristina was waiting for us at the door. She was stunned and shocked to see Camilo whom she immediately identified.

As we all had experienced before, she required some moments to reconfigure her time and space coordinates to dive herself in this unprecedented hand-offered experience. Camilo himself helped her to get over the shock with a friendly approach and natural speech. An important group of peace searchers were already in the council chamber of the faculty: a General and a Colonel of the Army; two high-level entrepreneurs; three former ministers; five academics; four Left leaders; four trade unionists and six community leaders, including several urban spokespersons for the insurgency. Altogether were 10 women and 16 men. There was a clear pact among them to ignore all taboos and censorship and to protect the freedom of speech by forbidding legal prosecutions among the members. This was Maria Cristina’s achievement after some years of debates and researches. She introduced Camilo with very few words, and did not even pronounce his name, she said: “All of us know him, there’s no need for introductions. If he’s here, it’s because he wants to gauge his country once more, and today, he wants to hear about our search for peace.”

The first person taking the floor was a former minister, who synthetized the peace processes that have taken a place in the last 25 years. He highlighted the government’s and Colombian society’s generosity at offering dialogue round-tables to the insurgency, as well as amnesties, pardons and the possibility to constituting legal parties and movements to promote their ideals. A trade unionist immediately after intervened insisting that it was a biased synthesis. He stated that, so far, all negotiations between the government and the insurgency have been dishonest. While they negotiated, underway intelligence was boosted to eliminate the militants, and survivors were under permanent blackmail for prosecution just by expressing their ideas, or under death threats by the paramilitaries, whose actions the governments have never taken responsibility even though the undeniable links with them.

One academic took the floor to typify some ‘models’ of the peace process. According to him, three had taken place: one that revendicates the reasons why Guerrillas were created at first and are placed in a negotiation agenda; another that only tables the demobilization of insurgency, and some legal and economic compensations such as pardons, temporary salaries and fellowships; and a last one that takes into account elements from the two first. The second is the only one that has succeeded, but it was only adopted by small and decimated guerrilla groups; the results of this agreement are not attractive for stronger and older guerrillas. Outright opposition is part of the most influential social sectors, who are against doing a direct negotiation on social reforms with an insurgency rather than through the constitutional means, in the parliament, and through political parties. Such opposition is diffused in the most powerful mass media, economic guilds, political parties, in many academics, upper ecclesiastical hierarchies, the army, and high State officials. It mentions a sort of “blackmail” that would impose changes by force of arms, and for all these sectors “that’s not a democracy.”

A community leader instantly answered back: “the ruling class’ concept of democracy is unacceptable. They think it is ‘democratic’ what a well-off minority thinks, what favors it, and what is done under its control, or rather, under the institutions it controls. For them, taking responsibility for solving the objective needs of the 80% of the population is not ‘democratic’. Seeking to assure people have a minimum food, it is not a democracy. Seeking people have access to descent quality housing, it is not a democracy. An equal land distribution, it is not a democracy. Demanding that healthcare not be an enriching commodity for those who profit from human pain, it is not democracy. Protecting natural resources from plundering by the multinational companies, it is not a democracy. Demanding free education to poor majorities, it is not is only a democracy when everything is decided by elections since the minority controls the elections’ business at its own favor, and with its money. That’s why it defends elections as the supreme criterion of its fake democracy. That’s why it always stands against social changes coming as an item on the negotiation tables with an insurgency.”

The Colonel immediately assumed the defense of electoral democracy. He declared that signs of progress have been made. Before, fraud was the regular basis, but in recent years the State forces control the elections, and the international observers, who always come, have legitimized as transparent the latter electoral procedures. A trade unionist instantly answered back, giving as an example the last decades’ electoral days. All of them were watched by the international community. and yet, the drug traffic fused together with paramilitary bought the parliament and executive power in many instances, and they publicly announced it with methods that not only circumvented all previously proclaimed controls, but made pacts of appropriation of all State institutions to re-found the nation at its own whim, and so perpetuating in power by means of those paid majorities.

Another community leader more explicitly pointed out the paramilitary topic. She said that governments have always wanted to negotiate peace with the insurgency but stating guerrillas’ warfare problems as irregular war, and hiding their own war tactics, which are developed in paramilitary structures. “That way, it’s just impossible to seek peace,” she said, “If it’s intended to put an end to a war, both sides must clearly show their warlike actions with all their features and legitimizations. The guerrilla is transparent in its motivations and irregular warfare, thought to set face-to-face a small combatant against a gigantic one. But the State cannot hide its irregular warfare through its huge paramilitary troops that cannot consider such irregular war as legitimate, since the State is the big and powerful combatant and it’s not suitable to assume methods that are reserved for weak and small combatants. Moreover, if it defends a State of Right, as a justification of its own legitimacy it cannot defend it by ‘paying lip service’, while breaking all norms and regulations of the ‘State of Right’ through paramilitary actions in the war.” A Left partisan immediately stated: “Deception is not only present in the tactics field. A peace process demands transparency; demands to call things by their proper name. If something is negotiated to sign a peace agreement and soon after it is discovered that it was not exactly what was negotiated, then peace easily fades away and war returns. Let’s be honest. So far, all governments engaging peace process have willingly deceived society: they say to have declared war to those seeking to impose changes through violence, and peace demands to offer democratic ways to seek those changes. But this has always been fake. A thoughtful observation shows that the real target of the State’s war isn’t the armed forces, or rather, those who fight for social changes bearing weapons. If we carefully study the cases, based on statistics and realities, the vast majority of those murdered, missing and/or imprisoned by the State were unarmed; their weapons were ideas. The real war of the State is against the people who think differently to the ruling class, not against those who act military to defend those ideas. Another aspect is that they always want to justify murders, disappearances, tortures and imprisonments by arguing procession of firearms, but some days, months or years later, it is proven to be a false accusation. The real war of the State has been against ideas and as long as it doesn’t recognize this in the negotiation tables, peace will be built on false bases.”

An entrepreneur encouraged a calmer and more realistic dialogue. “We are in a historic moment - he said – far way different from the time when guerrillas were originated. You, Father Camilo, who now overfly our history, must perceive better those changes. Humanity got over the socialisms’ illusions since it tasted its disadvantages. We are now in the globalization era and we have to adjust our peace conceptions to this world ideal we can’t escape from. We can no longer stay in anachronisms. We have now to accept some universal democratic principles such as the market economy, press freedom, free election. One understands that the States wants to protect society from some anachronic ideals, although I reprove repression methods implying any human rights violations.” A trade unionist immediately replied that this anachronism is rather represented by the globalization, by those who believe in press freedom and in elections: “They have turned to unbridled capitalism that most civilized societies had tried to invoke with several forms of ‘Keynesianism’ or the State’s social intervention to regulate the economy. They still believe in what they call press freedom is a real press freedom, and it’s not permanent brainwashing by those who have more money and power. And not to mention elections, since in Colombia these are the worst caricature of democracy: in the last decades, they have been under the control of paramilitary, drug traffickers, and seemingly, under UN’s supervision.”

An academic, who has been an executive of several human rights NGOs, and has participated in humanitarian commissions, he made a comment on the main pitfall the search for peace has. And it is that both sides try to involve big part of civilians in the war. “If war dealt exclusively with the combatants of both sides, it would be easier make progress in peace agreements by means of an increasingly strict application of International Human Rights, so the protection of civilians would be easier too.” An Army General, present there, added that if the guerrilla obeyed the laws of The Hague Conference; if it restricted itself to particular territories, wore distinctive uniforms, obeyed unified commands, and used authorized conventional weapons, the war would be restricted to bearable proportions and it wouldn’t affect the civilian population as much. An academic, a very prestigious woman, replied to the General arguing it was impossible in this very specific war we had. “Our guerrilla,” she stated, “doesn’t fight for territory, either for overthrowing a government or even an army; it fights for the destruction of the actual social model that it considers unfair and unacceptable, it fights for building an alternative one. Unfortunately, this society is mainly made of civil persons, civil works and civil institutions. The Guerrilla attacks crucial mainstays that supports that building and what they consider they are more to serve injustice. Just, let’s be honest. The State, from several decades ago, also involves civilians in the war: those we call paramilitary, and then they are called in different names. Today, they are informers, cooperant workers, and private security companies, etc., and they also attack civilians, not only the armed ones: the quantity of destroyed social movements looking for an alternative society is huge. General: this is mainly a war among civilians; limiting it to armed forces tears apart the goals and strategies of both sides.”

A former minister who has participated in several of the peace commissions addressed Camilo: “You can’t tell, Father Camilo, that this war doesn’t affect us or that we’ve done nothing so far to seek peace paths. What happens is that we’ve studied too many alternatives and we always face overwhelming walls of failure or pitfalls. We have lost the count of the times proposing the guerrilla a unilateral ceasefire, but they think that any kind of relief in the war is taken as an advantage for boosting the exploitation and oppression systems, and never take care of the excluded ones. The most logical political outcome for this war would be the guerrilla become a political party with participation guarantees. This has become an impossible outcome in Colombia, after the Union Patriotica’s genocide, among other movements. We can’t ask from them a collective suicide and that is not a believable possibility; moreover, they assure popular election is an instrument in the hands of the wealthiest and those with the power on mass media or able to manipulate public opinion. What’s more, we’ve never witnessed what the strategy of both sides is to gain confidence in each other. The guerrilla seeks social changes, and the government seeks to eliminate the Guerrilla. Both sides stand on the intensification of the conflict as the best way to achieve their goals. To the Guerrilla, the progress in social changes would be a mitigating action to build trust and decrease the conflict’s intensity; to the Government, it would be a decrease the conflict’s intensity what could build the trust up to progress in the reforms. Many Government officers uphold the negotiated solution must go together a military solution; many of us who have worked in peace commissions are convinced that both strategies together are the ruin for any peace process. All these complications have convinced us that such peace process should anticipate long stagnant periods of time but useful to create mutual trust, although this is also a risk on society’s trust, and it can turn out as a renovated support to war. The very position from where negotiations are held is a sharp controversy among us: for some, placing in an ethical field, in other words, one of social justice, would make negotiation unmanageable. That’s why some think that the negotiation should be placed in the power field, in other words, in the assignation of power shares because they think that Guerrilla wants power and would be content with some regional ones. Those who think that the only acceptable position in the negotiation would be basic structural reforms, they can’t foresee if these should be discussed after or before agreeing the guerrilla’s demobilization. Some think it should be before as the guerrilla wouldn’t believe any longer in promises that won’t be fulfilled, even if the UN is supervising, just as it happened in Central America. However, those who think that reforms should be discussed after the demobilization are afraid, that at some point, the non-negotiable items of both sides appear on the table: Ruling class considers unnegotiable the business freedom, globalization and foreign investment, that are inherent to the neoliberal economic model, press freedom, and the democratic model based on free elections. But this is exactly the core of what the guerrilla considers wicked and a generator of misery and injustice for the majorities: an economy molded by the free market of capitals; the presence of multinationals that exploits the natural resources; mass media manipulated by those with more money and power, and that are far from being in service to the public under a democratic control, and elections that for long time have not been democratic in Colombia. As you can see, Father Camilo, the problem of Colombian peace is not easy at all.”

Camilo kept a tight concentration all along all interventions, and he asked many questions among one and another to gain perspective of the different positions. Some of them detailly summarized amusing anecdotes of the several peace processes and they reminded him some already deceased important figures who have participated in them. At the moment they gave a brief retrospective, the members of this group were amazed about the country living for so many decades in allegedly ‘peace processes’ without any significant achievements rather marginal ones.

Finally, Camilo started to extend one of his question interventions and ended up by doing a presentation of his own convictions. “You well know,” he said, “that I assumed the armed means to seek a deep social change in the country, after a process that showed me that the ruling class was decidedly ready to use all possible violence to maintain the state of injustice that dehumanized the grand majority of the country. In that armed conflict, a tragic dilemma is at the order of the day: impotence keeps awake inefficiency, and invites to give the struggle up, but at that moment, ethics reinforce the legitimacy of the struggle and emphasize the immorality of submission. Some assume an ineffective struggle but as the last refuge of an ethical sense; some others quit ethics and put everything at risk for minimum pieces of efficiency. I well know that every single war ends up by degrading, precisely because the only means to draw upon to obtain a military advantage are intrinsically perverse: killing, hurting and capturing. They are as well intrinsically perverse the means to keep the Status Quo: turn the human need and pain into a launch pad to grow rich, and to be able to transform humans into instruments to the service of power. But these perversions are developed, and they get stronger as the core of the conflict gets out of sight: the satisfaction of basic needs and allowing the majorities to make the decisions. Maybe if we could find the way that the whole country started thinking how to guarantee minimum required food, living space, healthcare, basic education, and a minimum wage salary to all Colombians, ignoring political, religious, class, racial, and other identities and ideologies, the problems related to cohabitation and security could be more easily resolved. What concerns me the most, it’s the profound poverty in imaginaries for the future. In my platform, I tried to sketch an equitable country as an incentive to the enthusiastic construction of the future. Now I notice that gazes to the past are louder, and it is a past full of violence, humiliations, and blood. There are not images of the future that encourage a struggle to build it; the design of alternatives, seemingly, is a barren ground. But I dare to say that main priority, as I perceive, is the need to rebuild the communication among the people: it is necessary to democratize mass media, even in a short proportion: the most horrible media networks that control consciences are in charge now. It is not good enough the creation of an alternative mean, as Frente Unido journal was; nowadays it is required a law that stops the commodification of consciences by the power of media and transforms them into truly public services.”

After Camilo’s speech, which all attendees attentively listened up, the group come into a lively dialogue with him. Many reminiscences from the past emerged and countless sacrificed popular leaders paraded in the memories of the attendees. By the end of the afternoon, given that the meeting extended more than expected, everyone left with the feeling that peace was something easy to achieve only if selfishness and prejudices were not the constant fuel to that absurd bonfire of war.

If Camilo did not say goodbye, everyone would have indefinitely stayed in there. When we left, darkness wrapped Camilo’s fate in a sort of mystery, and the attendees went back, not without effort, to their routine schemes of time and space.

That night, I walked Camilo to his guest room and told him that he should take some rest after so intense journeys. He smiled me back playfully; he well knew that it was me who needed some rest, as he was no longer vulnerable to bodily fatigue.

Next day morning, I heard some intense noises coming from the square next to my cloister. It seemed that a crowd was approaching shouting slogans with great energy. I leant out of the balcony and I noticed a gigantic manifestation coming close. Army and Police armored cars went across the neighboring streets, while a multitude holding posters and banners led into the square from all its corners. I went to look for Camilo to join the manifestation; I was sure he would be excited. And he was. We carefully watched the written messages and listened up to the shouted slogans with the aim to figure out the objective of the protest. We were surprised that people did not mobilize by a temporal objective; they were crying out for a change in the system; justice for the poor; attention to majorities’ hunger; shelter for the rootless people; fairer land distribution; defense of natural resources; expulsion of multinationals; accessible healthcare system for all; mass media for and by the people It has been a long time no see this; we lived as inmates of fear and blindness Camilo was indeed excited. He started to get into the crowd until we lost sight. I tried to follow him up as much as I could, but he vanished from me. Somehow tired of the pursuit, I stopped to look the crowd, and, to me, this took the shape of Camilo’s body, becoming into a gigantic body that continued endlessly shouting, demanding justice and dignity.


1 Livre des Morts des Anciens Egyptiens, Editions Stock, Paris, 1978, pg. 174 - 175.

* This article/fiction serves as preface to the book “Camilo –Mensajes Visionarios” (Camilo – Visional messages), published by the Historical Memory Project (Proyecto de Memoria Histórica) in February 2011, in which Camilo’s Messages are reproduced to the several social sectors, commented by some social leader of each one of these sectors. The original text in Spanish is available at “Desde los Márgenes,” Javier Giraldo Moreno’s official website S.J. :

Author notes

** Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J. (1944) Colombian; ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1975; BA in Philosophy and Theology from Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and BA in Social Sciences from the University of Paris. Most of his work is focused on Human Rights groups, both at the Jesuit Center for Social Research in Bogotá, where he has coordinated a Human Rights and Political ViolenceDatabase, and in national and international commissions on Justice and Peace, People’s Rights, and the Permanent People’s Tribunal. For the past 22 years, he has intermittently accompanied a farmer community in their fight for autonomy against violent actors, such as Comunidad de Paz. Since March 2009, he has been a conscientious objector to the Colombian justice system.

*** Artist with a BA from the Pontificia Javeriana University of Bogotá. MA in History, Practice, and Aesthetique of Contemporary Art from Paris University. Founding member of the Grupo de Estudios Empíricos Radicales.

Additional information

Cómo citar: Giraldo Moreno, Javier, S.J. 2018. “ Camilo “Returns” [oneiric registers]”. Cuadernos de Música, Artes Visuales y Artes Escénicas 14(2): 169-186.