COLOMBIA NEWS – The patch of cement across Ave. Septima from Iglesia Las Nieves is commonly known as Plaza Las Nieves, after the church.
But the official name of this haunt of pigeons, alcoholics and skateboarders is Plaza Eduardo Umaña Mendoza, named after a radical leftist attorney assassinated by right-wing killers in April 1998.
Today, several posters celebrating Umaña appeared on the wall of the ETB building. Why today? I have no idea, since it’s not the anniversary of his birth or death.
Born in 1946, Umaña Mendoza defended victims of the Union Patriotica assassinations, fought against privatization of the ETB phone company and other state-owned enterprises (the plaza adjoins ETB’s building, which is probably why the plaza was given his name), and even Abimael Guzmán Reinoso, leader of the notorious Peruvian terrorist group Sendero Luminoso. Umaña traveled across Rurope denouncing human rights abuses in Colombia.
Umaña also studied the 1948 assassination of populist leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, and argued that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency was behind the crime – despite the lack of any evidence I know of. Umaña’s own assassination has been tied to right-wing paramilitaries.
For a man who was likely an atheist, it would be tough knowing that his plaza is popularly associated with a Catholic Church. And, a man dedicated to defending society’s humblest would certainly feel saddened seeing some of those people wandering drunk about his plaza.