One Last Wish

by T-Knox

Colombian soldiers have had their work cut out for them. Since the 1970s kidnappings in Colombia increased steadily and peaked in 2000 with 3572 kidnapped in that year. The numbers have declined since then with 2010 recording only 282 kidnappings.

If at this moment in time we could have one wish, any wish granted many of us may not know what to wish for. For a 12-year-old boy in Colombia his wish meant life and death. Andres Felipe Perez had a terminal cancer that would soon take his life. All he wanted was to hug his father again. For the course of his illness Andres’ father Norberto Perez, an officer with the Colombian police force, wasn’t around because he had been kidnapped. Norberto was never released to see his son again.

Norberto was taken hostage by a left-wing guerrilla group just prior to his son’s illness taking a detrimental turn. Andres was in dire need of a kidney transplant that his father could provide, yet he was still held captive. When this story broke out, there was an out-pouring of men, women, and children offering themselves to replace Norberto as a hostage so he could see his son again. University students marched in protest, nearly 4,000 of them through the streets. Despite these efforts nothing was done.

Television broadcasters released a video of Norberto Perez reaching out as if to embrace his son and trying his best to smile. The tape was given to media by the guerrilla group and was the only attempt at communicating with media or authorities. Andres’ mother said that before her son died his last words were, “If my dad calls, please wake me up.”

Many people in Colombia were devastated that Andres passed away and was never reunited with his father. Colombians have witnessed bloodshed, and horrific crimes, but this time was different. All Andres wanted was to see his father one last time.

Andres’ memory will be a symbol of the hostility endured by Colombians between the government and guerrilla groups. His story echoes hope and perhaps a sheer sign that things need to change in Colombia since, everyone has pointed the finger of blame at one another, the government, the President, the guerrillas and police units.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Andres Felipe Perez and thousands more mourned across the country.

Read more:

The Death of Hope | BBC News

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