Radio silences the ‘kidnapped voices’ and the production of political memory in Colombia (1994–...


After being kidnapped by the FARC-EP guerrilla group in 1994, the Colombian war reporter Herbin Hoyos created the radio show Las Voces del Secuestro (roughly, The Kidnapped Voices). Every morning, for 24 years, the families of those abducted by the guerrilla group sent out public messages of remembrance, hoping that their loved ones, deep in the jungles of Colombia, would be able to hear the broadcasts on their radios. Although the show closed in 2018, its legacy lives on, not only in the collective memory of many Colombians but also as an exhibition at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva (Switzerland). This article examines this show as a dispositif of power and knowledge that (re)produces a particular understanding of law, justice and memory. The show was used by far-right actors in Colombia to mobilise against the recent (2016) peace process – its crown jewel, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). As the JEP tackles the question of the FARC-EP kidnapping through its macro-case 01, the shadow of the Voces looms large over Colombia's transitional justice system. In the longest non-international armed conflict in Latin America, even radio waves served the continuation of war by other means.