How much do Colombia’s victims deserve?

The ringing in the right ear of Edgar Bermudez has not stopped since the former policeman felt an explosion crack open his face, knock him to the ground, blow out his eyes and steal his sight forever. Never, in that horrifying instant, did he lose consciousness. He was 26 years old.

Edgar was stationed in Nariño, a department in the south west of the country, where Marxist guerrilla and Colombian military vie for territory in a half-century armed conflict that has accounted for over 200,000 Colombian deaths. Edgar was part of a special ops team. Their mission was to eradicate coca grown in rebel FARC-held territory. Starting at 1am in the morning, bombs and grenades rained down on him and his battalion. The young policeman watched his friend die. He almost made it through the 6 hour bombardment unharmed. But then there was the explosion.

“The ringing sound bothers me still. It comes and goes though, so not all the time…” says Edgar over hot chocolate in a quiet cafe in Bogotá’s Palermo neighborhood.

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Former policeman Edgar Bermudez is blind after an explosion took away his sight. photo Wesley Tomaselli

There are other things that bother the 34 year old blind man as well: It bothers him how people don’t watch their umbrellas in the rain. He can’t see them. People don’t pay attention. And the pointed tips strike him in the face as the crowds hurry by. It bothers him that he has to use a cane to get around Bogotá. And it bothers him that victims of the country’s 50-year war don’t get the reparations he thinks they deserve.

How to deal with victims and reparations for their losses is the 5th issue on a 6 point agenda being discuss between members of Colombia and the FARC in Havana, Cuba. Nearly one year on, preliminary agreements on only 1 of 6 points have been reached.

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