Stories Sung of War: Forbidden Ballads as a Memory of the Conflict in Guaviare
Unigarro, Daniel Esteban
van der Linde, Carlos Germán
In Colombia, forbidden ballads form a popular musical genre in which songs allude to themes related to the armed conflict, drug trafficking, and associated violence. During a fieldwork to the jungles of Guaviare, we listened an anonymous song that narrated the troubled life of a paramilitary who fought with a guerrilla for territorial control of the same place. This event motivated the study of the narrative potential of this ballad and was used to establish the existence of another composition dedicated to the guerrilla protagonist. Thus, a contrast between both ballads is presented based on the narratological analysis of the transcribed lyrics, which has been complemented and confronted with documentary sources and ethnographic research to unveil the sung and told story of the war between paramilitaries and guerrillas in the area in the late years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century. It concludes that the forbidden ballads constitute sources of the memory of the conflict. They enable the transmission and daily reproduction of war stories that recreate scenes of violence and present their protagonists as heroes or villains. That is, they represent an alternative memory for a differentiated and situated understanding of the Colombian armed conflict.