Globe, Human Rights, Latin America, Politics

The second death of Pardo Leal

His statue was violated. They told me but I didn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. I didn’t think that Fascism would touch this type of monument and I believed this type of thing was in the past.


Colombia  fighting for peace. Photo by Leon Hernandez / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Armando Orozco Tovar


But it’s true, the statue of Pardo Leal, created by Emiro Garzón no longer exists. From what I know, the radio hasn’t said anything.

The employees of “The double U” radio station have kept silent.

The newsrooms have also declined to create the kind of scandal that would usually rise from such rumours, as the statue is worth much less to them than it is to their financial benefactors. They didn’t even dare show the now non-existent bronze skeleton. Today, sadly, I  can remember attending his inauguration in 1989 in the great green central reservation between the trees on the Avenida de Las Américas where we went to accompany Emiro Garzón.

That day friends from many political sectors attended, military members of the Communist party, the Patriotic Union and friends of Jaime Pardo Leal, their leader.

Jaime Pado Leal. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons License.

Emiro Garzón was commissioned to create the sculpture by the Council of Bogotá, costing them a significant sum, the actual total cost is unknown, because it was funded using money from all of the “bogotanos” (citizens of Bogotá).

Emiro Garzón obtained the bronze from hundreds of bullet shells that he bought from the army, melting them down in his workshop in the north of the city, which was then transferred to the hills of Suba, where he worked in an enormous workshop with melting ovens and other technical equipment necessary for such a task.

Twenty-five years later, the great sculpture of Pardo Leal had already gained – as a product of time and rain – the sacred patina that all old monuments must have, transforming it into a part of the cultural heritage of the city.

But the paramilitary fascism of Colombia ‘blew it up’. You could actually see the granite Pardo Leal become Bronze, with his right hand raised skyward with his two middle fingers making the sign of victory. A gesture that may be surprising, considering the six thousand assassinations that took place in the twenty years that the Patriotic Union lasted, a political party represented by the ex-presidential candidate, and if the genocide of almost all of its members hadn’t taken place, he would have surely risen to power.

It has always happened in this way: fascism does not forgive symbols, or freedom of expression, much less the monuments that remind us of the righteous men who served their people, such as Jaime Pardo Leal.

Photo: Pixabay

Years before in the city of Medellín during the age of terror “narco- para- military”, the “Dove of Peace” by Botero, was demolished in the city park, and much earlier there was another attempt against the murals of Pedro Nel Gómez.

In Spain during the war against fascism in 1936, 70 years ago, the Basque population of Guernica was bombed mercilessly by the Nazi air force, and it remains a mystery how Picasso`s famous canvas has avoided being destroyed in the economic interests of war.

So, now it reaches Jaime Pardo Leal, and this gem of an historical sculpture by Emiro Garzón will never again return to us, or its place on the Avenida de Las Américas, illuminating the darkness of these dark neo-liberal times with his raised right hand.

But why didn’t anyone say anything?

(Translated by Oliver Harris)

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