On September 1st, 2023, in a powerful act of reconciliation and responsibility, President Gustavo Petro, on behalf of the Colombian State, offered a heartfelt apology for the tragic murder of young graffiti artist Diego Felipe Becerra, known as "Tripido". This event unfolded against the backdrop of a painful chapter in Bogotá's history, highlighting the importance of acknowledging past wrongs and working towards a more just society.
Diego Felipe Becerra: A Symbol of Artistic Resistance
Diego Felipe Becerra was a 16-year-old boy practicing to become a street artist. Under the signature "Tripido" and accompanied by the iconic "Felix the Cat" image, he dreamt of transforming the city into vibrant canvases of self-expression.
However, his promising life was tragically cut short on August 19, 2011, when he was fatally wounded by a police officer while painting a wall.
Unraveling the Truth Behind the Tragedy
In the immediate aftermath of Diego's death, the police quickly labeled him as a criminal. Yet, his family's unwavering pursuit of truth prevailed during the trial, revealing that Diego Felipe Becerra had been the victim of a police-orchestrated setup.
In an emotional event held at Bogotá's Bicentenario Park, President Gustavo Petro declared, "Diego Felipe Becerra was killed for being different. He dared to paint a multicolored picture on a monotonous gray wall, and he stood against the uniformity of it."
The President also lamented the normalization of murder in Colombia and focused his speech on the urgent need for reforms to prevent future human rights violations.
Acknowledging Responsibility: A Step Towards Healing
During the event, Minister of Defense Iván Velásquez, speaking on behalf of the police and the Ministry, acknowledged the pain caused by the institution to the Becerra family and Colombian society. He emphasized the transformation of the police force and the absolute respect for the lives and rights of all citizens.
Amidst her grief, Liliana Lizarazo, Diego Felipe Becerra's mother, reminded those in attendance that her son would have turned 29 this year had he not been killed by the police. She stressed the importance of continuing the fight for justice and exposing state violence and impunity.
This acknowledgment of responsibility was carried out in compliance with a friendly settlement agreement signed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in May 2023.
The event brought together high-ranking government officials, including the Director of Police, General William Salamanca.
The Painful Saga of Police Misconduct and a Fight for Justice
Diego Felipe Becerra's tragic fate serves as a painful reminder of the challenges facing Colombian society in its pursuit of justice, truth, and respect for human rights. The case exposed a disturbing trend of police misconduct and impunity, but it also showcased the resilience of the people in their quest for accountability.
While Diego Felipe Becerra can never be brought back, the apology offered by President Gustavo Petro and the Colombian government represents a significant step towards healing and a commitment to preventing such tragedies in the future. It is a testament to the power of truth, reconciliation, and the ongoing transformation of Colombia's justice and security system.