During this penultimate period of violence under Rojas, the violence that wracked Colombia assumed a number of different characteristics that included an economic quality as well as a political one with numerous assassinations taking place. These were literally contract killings there were sponsored by opposition forms. There were also horrendous genocidal acts that were carried out by gangs combined with authentic revolutionary fighting in some regions of the country.
The fourth and final phase of the Violencia began with the fall of Rojas Pinilla and the reconciliation between the Conservative and Liberal parties that resulted in the creation of the Frente Nacional government.
The majority of the strictly sectarian Violencia was finally stopped for the most part during this final phase of this ugly chapter in Colombia's history, and the cessation provided the opportunity for the governmental forces to address the root causes of much of the violence during the next 8 years and by 1965, the Violencia was over for all intents and purposes; however, violence and its impact on the national consciousness was certainly not completely eradicated from Colombia and these issues are discussed further below.
Revolutionary Violence from the 1960s to Present. From the victim's perspective, it could be suggested that violence is violence and its origins are of little consequence at the time of the mayhem. Nevertheless, the literature shows that the type of violence that emerged in Colombia during the latter half of the 20th century was qualitatively different in terms of what was being fought over and who was doing the fighting. According to human rights observer Dudley, by the time the 1980s rolled around, Colombia had already experienced almost three-and-a-half decades of incessant war, with the latest round being among the worst with no signs of the violence abating. "Hundreds of political dissidents and suspected rebel collaborators had been jailed and tortured by government troops," Dudley emphasizes, and adds that, "Many had died. The army had also launched attacks on rebel strongholds. Despite the government's resolve, the size of the guerrilla armies had increased fourfold."
Violent conflicts between Colombian government military forces and anti-government insurgent groups and outlawed paramilitary groups also worsened by the 1990s, fueled in large part by hefty funding by drug trafficking.
Today, although Colombian insurgents do not possess the military or popular support needed to successfully overthrow the Colombian government and violence has been on the decline for the past few years, the insurgent groups continue to launch attacks against the civilian population in Colombia and large regions of the countryside remain under guerrilla influence and outright control.
By the end of 2006, over 32,000 former right-wing paramilitaries had disbanded and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) had ceased operations, at least formally. Nevertheless, some insurgents continue to engage in criminal activities and in response, the Colombian Government has increased efforts to reassert government control throughout the country and this function is represented in all of the country's administrative departments (Colombia). Neighboring countries in the region, though, continue to express concern over the potential for violence spilling over their borders.
These were powerful events for the citizenry of Colombia, of course, and it is not surprising that they represented the focus of much of the art that emerged during this period as noted below.
DOES INGRID BETANCOURT FALL in ALL of THIS? --a RECENT FAMOUS INCIDENT THAT BROUGHT the VIOLENCE in COLOMBIA to INTERNATIONAL EYES. WHAT ABOUT U.S. PRESENCE/INFLUENCE on THIS SITUATION?
Art and the Political Violence of 1948-1958 and the Revolutionary Violence of the 1960s - 1980s.
During this period of Colombia's history, an increasing number of artists began responding to the violent events that were engulfing their nation by expressing their angst in art. Powerful and poignant events in a nation's history require memorializing, and La Violencia provided rich fodder for the artists of the era. Indeed, this difficult time in Colombia's history produced a very intense movement in culture and arts in general; and writers such as Alvaro Mutis (b.1923), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (b.1927) and Leon de Greiff (1895-1976) came to the public light. Likewise, artists such as Alejandro Obregon, Fernando Botero (b.1932), Deborah Arango, Pedro Nel Gomez (1899-1984), and Luis Caballero (1943-1995), among others, began to use their work to denounce, protest, and/or criticize political and social injustice.
In this regard, Gloria Zea, Director of the Bogota Museum of Modern Art, points out that a number of Colombia artists have created artworks that deal specifically with violence as their theme, with some of the more prominent examples including Alejandro Obregon's Violence from the early 1960s, a work that represents the artist's appeal for more tolerance in an intolerant land. During this period in Obregon's career, a full half century of Colombian history and four generations had experienced the horrors of war which continued to rock the country during this period and were continuing to worsen.
While it is unlikely that all of the artistic works that were inspired by the historical violence in Colombia will be universally appreciated or even liked by people from all countries, it is apparent that everyone who comes into contact with these various artistic manifestations and interpretations of these violent periods in Colombia's history will be moved by them in fundamentally human ways that could not be achieved otherwise. As Zea
points out, "Violence has left an indelible imprint on Colombian culture. It is a recurring theme in the visual arts, literature, theatre and film. Given its magnitude, it has an enormous impact on our lives, and can leave no one indifferent."
Although contemporary, Juan Manuel Echavarria (b.1947) is another artist whose work relates to La Violencia. Through various video and still photographic works, Echavarria interpreted the 50-year period of civil war in Colombia via symbolic imagery. For instance, Echavarri's series of images entitled Corte de florero (Flower Vase Cut) 1996, assumes its distinctive form from various botanical prints that were inspired by the 18th century Spanish expeditions to the New World. Echavarri's illustrations of flowers, though, are not intended as a pleasant evocation of walks in a meadow but are rather constructed from actual human bones in an effort to draw attention to body mutilation as a tangential reference to this early period in Colombian history and his other work is likewise drawn from the history of Colombian cultural life.
Although a precise determination of the economic impact of decades' of violence on Colombia may be difficult to develop and predictions concerning where the country will be a decade from now vary, the impact of the incessant violence in human terms can be discerned in some general ways by the response of the artistic community to these events, and these issues are discussed below as they relate to Alejandro Obregon, Deborah Arango and others as well as their work during the first three phases of Colombia's violent history delineated above.
Case of study No. 1: Alejandro Obregon. Obregon, as well as many other Colombian artists at that time, was strongly affected by the violence, as well as the political and social disorder that Colombia experienced during La Violencia. In 1948, Obregon was living in Bogota where he was arranging for an exhibition of his work when he first learned of the assassination of Gaitan. This was clearly a formative event for Obregon as it provided him with some poignant first-hand experience concerning the tumultuous period and the fear that followed hard on the heals of this political assassination and the very next day in a cemetery, he completed the first sketches of La massacre del 10 de abril (the April 10th Massacre) 1948 and other paintings.
According to Williams and Guerrieri, Obregon belonged to the "Group of Barranquilla." The Barranquilla group was ". . . A gathering of intellectuals who read and discussed Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, and Dos Passos."
The group was absolutely replete with luminaries of the Colombia humanities scene. For instance, "During the 1940s and 1950s, the writer Jose Felix Fuenmayor (1885-1966) functioned as a literary father figure for the group of young artists and intellectuals later to be designated as the 'Group of Barranquilla.'"
This group also included the painter Alejandro Obregon, writers Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Alvaro Cepeda Samudio (1926-1972), journalist Alfonso Fuenmayor (1927-1992), and journalist/critic German Vargas.
One of the group's periodicals, the Barranquilla newspaper El Heraldo, also played an important role in Colombian coastal culture since the 1940s by regularly publishing the writing of Garcia Marquez and other members of the group.
In addition, the Barranquilla group also produced the literary journal, Cronica.
In reality, Obregon's art has characteristically been aligned with both the figurative and the abstract nature of the events he portrays. For instance, an artist from the Caribbean who was frequently been associated with Garcia Marquez's "Group of Barranquilla" in the 1940s, Pedro Nel Gomez, suggests that Obregon aspired not only to universalize Colombian painting, but also to…