Eva found her missing son, but no one has apologized
This Tuesday marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Eva Chaverra de Ledezma spent eight of her 91 years fighting to find her son Gilberto’s remains; he was murdered by the extinct FARC.
By Cesar Marin.
“Oh, my mother Eva Chaverra! Oh, my children! Why do you do this to me?" Those were the last words Gilberto Ledezma Chaverra spoke, minutes before he was killed, along with his assistant, on June 9th, 2009, by the extinct FARC.
He was 48 years old and had three children. His mother, Eva Chaverra, remembers the day before, as usual, Gilberto came by on a motorcycle to greet her and drink his usual herbal tea. As if it were a premonition, her son told her: “Oh, mom, if God wanted, I would never be apart from you!”
Gilberto studied Law up to the second year, but he stopped to do commerce. Initially, he sold merchandise in Quibdo, but later he began to sell wood he bought on the banks of the Atrato River and then sold in Medellin, all this with the help of a boy known as “El Paisita”.
The day of his disappearance, Gilberto didn’t stop by Eva's house because he had an early meeting to deal a piece of wood near the El Jaguo district of Choco. “That business deal was a setup. They asked to be there to steal the wood, the money, and then kill them,” says Eva.
Eight days later, rumor spread saying Gilberto and “El Paisita” had been killed. “I went to the Prosecutor's Office, the Ombudsman's Office, the DAS and, honestly, they never did anything. Paperwork and paperwork and nothing at all, and years went by like this. Gilberto and I had an intimate relationship, between the two of us there was never a secret. He was very nice to me,” recalls his mother.
Eight years of grief
Even though Eva had little hope he was still alive, she wanted to know where her son's remains were. She wanted to have them to give him a Christian burial. She entrusted herself to the Holy Spirit, as she also did during the recovery from a stroke suffered by the anguish of not knowing Gilberto's whereabouts.
While the pain was hurting Eva, in 2016, the Colombian Government closed a peace process with the FARC-EP in Havana, Cuba.
At that time, Quibdo’s Emeritus Bishop, Monsignor Fidel Cadavid, exposed Gilberto's disappearance case, which proved effective because she received a call from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They had coordinates where two men grave might be. “It was June 2nd, 2017. I remember I was watering the plants when they called me. I almost fainted, I felt my heart stopped,” says Eva.
The call ended with an invitation to attend the digging it would take place two days later in that place. On June 4th, at dawn, in three boats, Eva, one of Gilberto's sons, the Police inspector and members of the ICRC headed to the Rio Munguido settlement.
Once there, they didn’t see signs of disturbed soil or other clues that would point to the grave. After a while, next to a tree, Eva had a hunch. "I think this is it." The team started digging.
They had dug about 1.5 m when they found a bead rosary. As soon as she saw it, the woman knew that Gilberto's remains were there. At his side was his business partner’s body.
The Prosecutor's Office took the bodies to Medellin. Then, Eva underwent a DNA test. Ten months later, on April 24th, 2018, she received Gilberto's remains to finally give him the Christian burial that she wanted for her son.
Today, 91 years old and with a lucid mind, she says no one has asked her for forgiveness and, even so, as a practicing Catholic, she forgave because in her soul and heart there is no room for resentment.
Without knowing it, Mrs. Eva had prepared herself for this forgiveness. For decades, she was a midwife, and that made her even more aware of life’s the true value.
Being 20, she arrived at a doctor's family home in El Carmen de Atrato. There, she began to learn how to be a nursing assistant. Later she worked at San Francisco de Asis Hospital, at the Niño Jesus Health Center and Quibdo’s Lions Club. She went to Bagado and then to Las Mercedes, where she was trained as a nursing assistant through a course in Medellin’s SENA.
She went to Bete and spent 21 years in Bellavista, the municipal seat of Bojaya. She was saved from the Bojaya massacre in May 2002 because two months earlier she had decided to return to Quibdo and retire.
Eva estimates she attended around 1,000 deliveries in health posts and homes, mainly of peasant women. She also supervised health promoters whose radius of coverage, for the most part, were places around the Atrato’s riverbanks and tributary streams, places that she visited alone in a small boat.
One of the guerrilla members who was there the day Gilberto and El Paisita were detained and killed, and whom Eva had vaccinated years before as a nursing assistant, he told her that moments before being murdered, had said: “Oh, my mother Eva Chaverra! Oh, my children! Why do you do this to me?"