Saturday, October 1 , 2022

The innocent face of tragedy

By: Jean-michel Pelet, Via:

Omayra Sánchez or Omaira Sanchez, born August 28, 1972 and died November 16, 1985, is a Colombian young victim at the age of 13, the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which takes place November 13, 1985 in Armero -Guayabal. Imprisoned for three days and three nights in the water, between concrete blocks and other debris, it attracts media attention as well as voluntary workers. Omayra Sánchez of videos discussing with workers, smiling and gesturing to the cameras make the media turn. “His courage and dignity” affecting many humanitarian workers who gather around the child to be with her and pray with her.

After sixty hours of agony, Omayra Sanchez dies. His death highlights the failure of the Colombian authorities to respond promptly to the threat of the volcano and also the struggle of rescuers to free victims trapped in the rubble that could have been saved faster without the lack of government responsiveness.

Sanchez became famous thanks to a photograph of her taken by the French journalist Frank Fournier shortly before his death. This image, broadcast around the world after the death of the girl, causes controversy because of the decision of the photographer to take this photo and inaction of the Colombian government to prevent the tragedy of Armero despite several warnings prerequisites.

While tributes were made to many victims of the disaster, Omayra’s death was honored particularly through poems, novels and pieces of musique28. Thus, the French writer and poet René Rouzioux-Saens composed the poem The skinned alive, “Poem to Omayra,” published in 2003 in his collection of texts Perfumes, flavors and colors vie29. A book, Adios, Omayra, Colombian Eduardo Santa illustrated the last days of the girl and the symbolism of his death in catastrophe28. The Chilean writer Isabel Allende was inspired by these past events for its new And of Clay Are We Created, telling them the perspective of a man present at the death of Omayra. She wrote later about his inspiration for the story, that “his dark eyes filled with resignation and wisdom, [the] still continue in [his] dreams. Write the story has not exorcised the ghost. “