Searching DNA: Identifying the disappeared in Colombia

By Chantal Flores—Aljazeera—September 2, 2017—

Puerto Asis, Colombia – Esperanza Canencio sits in silence in the tiny living room of her house with a picture of her son behind her in the southwestern state of Putumayo.

For hours now, a van has been driving around the streets with a recording that blares into the houses located on Carrera 20, where more than 300 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) make their way to a demobilisation zone to disarm and begin their transition to society.

“The war is over,” the recording announces hopefully on this Thursday morning in late January, inviting residents to hang a white flag outside their homes. For Canencio, however, the conflict will truly end when her son, Edgar Bayron Murcia – a policeman kidnapped in 1999 by the rebels – returns to her: dead or alive.

“I say it with all my heart that I will forgive them the day they give me the remains, even if it’s only the remains of my son. They should tell the truth, what did they do to him? Did they kill him? Well okay, what did they do with him?” says Canencio as she raises her hands in despair.