The article, published by combatant and writer Gabriel Ángel, describes three dreams in the life of El Paisa, from which we translated some extracts:
“His family was very poor and looking for a better future, they decided to move from Remedios, the municipality where Oscar was born, to Medellin, the provincial capital, where his father began working as a very low rank employee in public companies. Oscar was two or three years old when that happened, in the mid-sixties, which is why he doesn’t remember anything about his life in northeastern Antioquia. Instead he never forgot the poverty they experienced in his humble house in some neighborhood of Medellin.”
Listening to the stories of a neighbour who was a sailor, he decided he wanted to be one as well. But “it was impossible to enter the Navy School of Cartagena and the sea was too far away”.
When he failed biology at school, he decided to leave home. He went to Santa Marta, looking for the sea, where he worked in several places, selling on the street, washing cars, carrying loads… One day, his saw his former classmates, who were making an excursion:
“He immediately abandoned what he was doing and left in the opposite direction, avoiding the group. He felt ashamed of being seen there in these conditions.”
His second dream was to earn a lot of money. He started working at a restaurant, washing dishes and cleaning. One day, some client invited him to go with him to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, to recollect coffee beans. For the first time, Oscar went to the countryside. He learned how to work and began to earn some money. He discovered that recollecting marihuana he could even earn more money. Of course, this was illegal and the workers had to keep silent about their activity.
Apart from recollecting, he also worked transporting bags full of marihuana on his back:
“The marches lasted many hours and one had to be really strong to support them. For Oscar, it was almost impossible, but he made the sacrifice since the 1500 pesos per trip represented a lot of money by then. Luckily, his youth and his friendly character always created sympathy and solidarity in others, who used to choose the lightest packages for him (…)”.
With a group of friends, he saved his money to start a real marihuana plantation, which made them dream about growing the business and earn more money. “But everything finished when the airplane arrived to spray their crops, which was when their hope vanished”.
His third dream was “to be a guerrilla fighter and defeat the oligarchy”. Oscar started to work as a recollector of cocaleaves in Calamar, a job for which quite some money was paid. When he met some guerrilla fighters there, he told them he wanted to join the organization:
“To his surprise, the guerrilla was not interested at all. First they bombed him with all sorts of questions about his past and origin. And then they told him to think it over, to work another six months there, and if after that he still wanted to join, they would pick him up.”.
Some months later, after he gained trust from the population, he was presented to the comandante of the first front, who explained him what the guerrilla was, why they fight and what the rules of the organization were. Oscar didn't wait any longer and immediately followed him to the camp. There weren't enough rifles so during the first months, he only carried a small gun. Oscar offered to go and take away a rifle from some policeman in the areas he knew well. After some months, the comandante let him go to El Retorno with another guerrilla fighter. They found two policemen who weren’t paying much attention, threatened them with the gun and that’s how he obtained his first rifle: without shooting the gun.
His brother was tortured and killed just because of being his brother. Oscar himself went to the morgue to claim his corpse, and made the people of the funeral company hide the signals of torture, for his mother not to suffer unnecessarily.
In the eighties, he became part of the leadership of the urban guerrilla structure in Colombia; later on, he became member of the Central High Command of the organization:
“His conduct was never blamed for violating the rules of the organization or for lack of subordination to the superior leadership. Any statement that claims the contrary is completely false”, reads the article.