Barrancabermeja, Colombia

Barrancabermeja, the town where there is a headquaters of Ecopetorol, the national oil company, is economically one of the most important places in Colombia. This relatively small town with the population of 250,000, has been one of the assassination capitals in Colombia where people are struggling 40 years old civil war.

AUC (United Self- defense force of Colombia) took control of the town about 7 years ago where FARC (Leftist guerrilla) originally controlled. Since then AUC keeps killing people whom they suspect as a part of guerrilla, or the sympathizer of guerrilla.

Daniel, 23 years old, grew up in Barrancabermeja. When he was 19 with no job, just hanging out on the street, a person from AUC called him to become a member of AUC, saying gWe protect the country from the guerrilla who kidnap so many people for money, also we work for against the social diseases such as robbery and drugs. to protect the communityh. AUC is allegedly responsible for the 70% of the violence in Colombia. AUC was not really far from Daniel because he grew up in the town where violence was ordinary.

It looked attractive for him since he can obtain salary and that he might be able to be respected from the people by playing the important role in AUC.

gI want to be respected people, not be neglected.h He has a same desire like people in the developed city who want to get better position and better wage.

Since then, he chose to work for a part of AUC and has killed 25 people.

In Barrancabermeja, there are allegedly 40 assassins working for AUC. The reason why they become assassin differs. Some assassins are working because they are threatened by AUC itself, others are because of that their families were killed by leftist guerrilla, and others became assassins because of money and to sustain their life.

gWhen I first killed, I could not even sleep because I was so scared what I have done. hDaniel said gHowever, it became easier to me from 4th one and now I donft feel anything....h

As Daniel talk to me calmly, I asked

gDo you like to kill people?h

Daniel became silent as he keeps looking at the ceiling. After a minute, he resumed to talk again.

gI know killing someone is bad, but this is my life. I can make my life by this job. Also I kill guerrillas and robberiesc like social disease. So I need to do it.h

He is a father of two kids. And he obtains only 200 US dollars per month.

gPay is not so good, but there is no other job. If there is, many of assassins might quit. But I canft say anything about myself.h

Daniel feels contradictions, and he doubts himself what he is doing. But he also said he feels obligations toward AUC who built a house for his family and help their life.

Daniel chose to live as an assassin in one sort of the world where violence is ordinary and where people cannot realize grichh. Becoming the assassin is only one choice for him to be recognized in the society.

If he was born in Japan, he might be one among young people who is hanging around and joking with some friends for nothing.


© Kosuke Okahara