Without a doubt, after it was clear you would be coming to Colombia, you came across a lot of information, figures, and records, concerning how cruel it can be to eliminate that which is different through acts of savagery and violence.
However, I am here with you today to say that we victims are not just statistics; we are also young people who continually speak out against injustice in order to turn what we call peace into a reality. Our hope for our country comes from the sincere conviction that the right to truth will contribute significantly to reconciliation.
On the night of March 3, 2001, my life was split into two when my father, Jorge Darío Hoyos, was murdered for being a trade unionist. I discovered real pain when I saw my sister’s expression as she told me what had just happened. Right then, I hoped that what we experienced would not happen to anyone else, that no other child would ever have to experience the same misfortune.
Hence, my goal in life – and that of many young people who created the movement known as Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence – became to dedicate our lives to demanding that our stories to be known. This was important since our perspective has often been ignored in official government accounts and the mass media, which prefer to forget what has happened.
Accordingly, we have taken to the streets to talk about what has happened to us. We express our love, paint murals, install exhibits with photographs of our loved ones, march to the beat of drums —all of this to demand truth, justice, and especially peace. We also go to trials to show the criminals that we are present, that we are the reflection of what can never again happen in our society.
Today, in opposition to silence, I cry out for an opportunity to debate ideas. I cry out so that young people may be able to stop being disengaged in politics and the future of our country and the world; so that we can to recover our dreams and hopes through the warm, tender memories of our mothers and fathers who were murdered, forcibly disappeared, or forced into exile.
I want a re-encounter with the ideals of social justice that others wished to erase from my country. Nonetheless, thanks to the determination and resistance of the victims, we have been able to recreate ourselves as a beacon of dignity for the achievement of peace. Yes, we can! We are an example that the scourge of war can be banished and that we can reconcile through our collective embrace. This embrace will mean respect, care, and the recognition of one another, including Mother Earth. It is only in this way that we can honor the sense of being human.