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Réquiem NN2013

The town of Puerto Berrío sits on a bend in Colombia’s Magdalena River. For over 30 years, local townspeople have fished out the remains of victims of violence drifting downstream. Ordinarily, these unidentified corpses, known as NNs (No Names), would be destined for a mass grave. However, for decades, local townspeople have adopted these bodies and given them names; they decorate their tombs and bring them water, gifts and flowers. In exchange, it is believed that the living are awarded protection and special favors. Some people who adopt the lost souls even baptize them with names from their own family, thereby finding comfort for losses of their own. Through this collective ritual, the people of Puerto Berrío say to the perpetrators of violence: In our community we don’t allow your victims to disappear; we may not know who they were, but they will become a part of us.

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