Jaqueline Castillo and Rubiela Giraldo, whose loved ones were murdered by the Colombian army in 2008, will be discussing their campaign for justice at JFC-organised public events in Manchester on Thursday 9 November and Edinburgh on Wednesday 15 November (click on links for full details).
This article was written by Yonatan Mosquera and originally published in The Prisma.
Between 2002 and 2010, more than 6,400 young people were kidnapped, tortured and killed by the Colombian army. They were passed off as guerrillas killed in combat. The victims of this human rights crime became known as “Falsos Positivos” (False Positives).
On 30 August 2023, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) brought charges against former general and former army chief Mario Montoya and eight other military officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity for the murder of 130 “False Positives” in the department of Antioquia, while demanding “rivers of blood” from his troops.
Jacqueline Castillo and Rubiela Giraldo, two representatives of MAFAPO (Mothers of the False Positives), a collective of women who have led a courageous 15-year struggle for truth and justice for their sons and brothers killed in the massacre of the “False Positives”, will tour Europe for two months, debating these issues, denouncing the crime and loudly demanding justice for their loved ones.
This historic tour, which begins on 12 October this year, will be known as the Mafapo Europa Tour.
The #MafapoEuropaTour starts in Germany, passes through Belgium, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and ends in Italy, spanning ten countries in two months. A historic marathon in search of truth and justice.
About the speakers
Jacqueline Castillo Peña comes from a working-class family in Bogotá and was the only one of seven siblings who was able to complete a degree. She worked in the health sector as a laboratory technician and nurse for 34 years. In October 2008, her brother Jaime disappeared, chewing candy or cleaning car windows at traffic lights. After some investigations, she learned that her brother had been forcibly disappeared by members of the Colombian army.
He was murdered and falsely declared as being a “guerrilla killed in combat”. His body was found in a mass grave with five other innocent people.
This situation convinced Jacqueline that her brother’s case was not unique and that an organised campaign for truth and justice was needed. Together with other mothers of victims, they founded MAFAPO, a women’s collective dedicated to the struggle for truth and justice for the extrajudicially executed.
This struggle has earned them international awards as “Women of Peace” in 2012. In almost 15 years of struggle against the Colombian state, Jacqueline and the other women of MAFAPO have been subjected to death threats, public harassment by political figures, harassment by Colombian army generals and humiliation by a judicial system that denies them truth and justice.
On 6 February 2008, Rubiela Giraldo’s son, Diego Armando, was taken away from the city with the promise of a job and the hope of a better life. On 1 October that same year, she received the news that her son’s lifeless body had been found in a mass grave in Ocaña, in the north of the country.
Since then, Rubiela has joined the other MAFAPO women. The struggle for truth and justice has become her life’s goal. She will not give up until everyone knows who gave the orders, until the systematic barbarism throughout the country is resolved, until those responsible for their crimes are punished and until Colombia becomes a place where the army stops killing innocent civilians.