The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a global network of historic sites, museums and memory initiatives, sends a letter notifying Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory that it has been expelled from the organization.
The Coalition’s director, Elizabeth Silkes, had sent a letter in September 2019 to the National Center’s director, Darío Acevedo, asking him to reconfirm the Center’s commitment to the conflict’s victims and to recognize the existence of the armed conflict, among other issues. Acevedo did not respond to that letter.
Acevedo, a very conservative intellectual, took office in February 2019 as a very controversial choice for a government body dedicated to preserving the memory of conflict victims. In a 2017 interview with Medellín’s El Colombiano, he had said, “Some people believe that what Colombia lived through was an armed conflict, something like a confrontation between the state and some organizations that rose up against it. Others think that it was the state defending itself against a terrorist threat and from some organizations that had degenerated in their political perspective by mixing themselves in with kidnapping, narcotrafficking, and crimes against humanity. Though the Victims’ Law says that what was lived was an armed conflict, that can’t become an official truth.”
On February 5, President Duque and Director Acevedo preside over a ceremony commemorating the laying of the first stone at the construction site where the Historical Memory Center will build a Museum of Memory, a project begun during the Santos government. Some victims’ groups, most notably the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes, which wasn’t invited to attend, protest outside the event.
A February 11 letter from 63 prominent international scholars voices concern “for the ostensible loss of credibility” that the National Center for Historical Memory has suffered under Acevedo’s leadership.