Oblivion: A Memoir

Oblivion: A Memoir

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0374533938

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"An irreplaceable testimony of the struggle for democracy and tolerance in Latin America." ―El País

Héctor Abad's Oblivion is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written memorial to the author's father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987. Twenty years in the writing, it paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America's recent history.

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practical sphere and in the domain of religious belief. Those who believe in ghosts or in people possessed by the devil do so not because they really see these things themselves, but because they were made to hear and see them – even if at first they couldn’t – as children. Some people, intoxicated with reason, reconsider their position when they grow up and for a few years adopt a sceptical point of view, even though they have been religiously educated. But when they are faced with life’s

usual form, that of political violence. The State, or more specifically the army, assisted by squadrons of hired killers, the paramilitaries, backed by the security organizations and sometimes by the police as well, was exterminating political opponents on the left, in order to ‘save the country from the threat of Communism’, as they claimed. His final struggle, then, was also a medical struggle, the struggle of a health care worker, although one fought outside classrooms and hospitals. A

veterinary science student; 26 July, John Jairo Villa, law student; 31 July, Yowaldin Cardeño Cardona, a student at the University High School; 1 August, José Ignacio Londoño Uribe, social and communication studies student; 4 August, anthropology professor Carlos López Bedoya; 6 August, engineering student Gustavo Franco; 14 August, professor in the Faculty of Medicine, and Patriotic Union senator, Pedro Luis Valencia. Horrific details had emerged about some of these crimes, which my father told

son of a bitch was one of the first we killed in Medellín,’ they remarked. ‘He was a really dangerous communist; and we should keep an eye on his son, because he’s going down the same route.’ My nephew, terrified, didn’t say that the man they were talking about was his grandfather. When my sister Maryluz, the eldest, and his favourite daughter, begged my father to stop going on marches because he was going to get killed, he would calm her with kisses and laughter. The marches themselves,

tanned neck, a hole in the sole of his shoe that lets water in, a woman’s pink scarf knotted at his throat. He walks the streets and talks to himself. He talks and talks the way madmen talk, and he looks at girls with burning eyes, for he has no wife and takes consolation in looking. He never crosses a road at a corner, but in the middle of the block. Everyone thinks he’s mad; even I thought he was mad when I saw him. It’s the end of December, and cold with the dry cold of the high plateau that

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