Thousands of Homeless Massacred, Forced to Live in Sewers

In many countries around the world, Sundays are a day for worship, family and rest. In Bogota, Colombia, Sundays are a day of terror: waiting to see if your makeshift home in the sewer system will be filled with gasoline and set on fire and avoiding the police on the street.

According to a documentary from, at the height of child homelessness in Bogota, Colombia, wealthy business owners began putting together death squads to “cleanse” the city of the people living on the street, deemed “the disposables.” These cleanses have continued ever since, now commissioned and carried out by the police as well.

The squads would exterminate the people living in the parks, on benches or in the streets: pregnant women, children and entire families.

These “social cleanses” forced the homeless people of Colombia to retreat into the sewers. One couple has been living in their “penthouse by the sea” for seventeen years, giving birth to three children.

According to an article from 1990 in the LA Times, no one has an exact count of how many are living in the sewers but it is somewhere in the hundreds, possibly thousands by now.

15 years ago, a rotating group of teenagers was living beneath one manhole. Once it was determined they could not get into the sewer with their guns, the police poured gasoline into the tunnel and lit a match, burning 22 kids alive. This is common practice.

CNN reported last year that after the initial wave of publicity and activism in the 90s, this story faded away and “about six months after all the stories aired, the death squads went in, armed with the whereabouts of the sewer-kid hot spots, and carried out massive reprisal killings.” But with most of the death squads being made up of cops and retired military personnel, the Colombian government did nothing and the issue stagnated as other tragedies gained attention.

In 1994, the New York Times quoted a study by Carlos Rojas, a researcher at the time, stating that almost 2,000 people were killed from 1988 to 1993 as a result of what Colombians call limpieza social, or social cleansing. In the first half of 1994, he counted 215 deaths by vigilante gropus. Other human rights organizations estimate that there were 345 such killings in Colombia every year.

If those numbers held steady from 1988 to 2011, nearly 8,000 human lives would have been taken through this “cleansing” process.

Even though they are constantly surrounded by feces, garbage, rats and water, the homeless still prefer the sewers to the streets. “You’re still safer sleeping in here than out there,” one man said about the sewers over outdoor parks or the streets.

You can watch the documentary here. you should know that it is very graphic.

Sign the petition and tell the President of Colombia, the Minister of Defense and the National Police Director that the social cleansing occurring in Colombia is unacceptable and must stop!


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Photo credit: David Feltkamp via flickr


Andie M.
Andie M.2 years ago

I have visited Columbia and seen first hand the people camping in sewerage pipes. I had no idea they were not safe on the streets. This is abhorrent and we must stop this. I want to sign the petition but the link is faulty.....Please fix the link so I can sign now!

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

This is really awful.

Jean D.
Jean Dahlquist5 years ago

This is a disgrace for any country.

Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta5 years ago

Rob and Jay B:

This information may be old but it is the first I have heard of it and if it had not been for this website I probably would never had heard about it. I agree with Christy E, just because it is old news doesn't mean that it's not happening anymore and what is the harm in repeating a story like this if it brings more exposure to the problem???

In general I find this story very upsetting, how can people be so cruel?? :-(

peggy p.
peggy p5 years ago

to a few who have posted negative remarks, while i see your point, it might need repeating because so little has changed....

peggy p.
peggy p5 years ago


Lori E.
Lori E5 years ago

Wow, I'm stunned.

Michael C.
Michael C5 years ago

For some "people" Life is cheap, and the "leaders" of Columbia wonder why there is a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia Army, known as FARC.

We treat our homeless better, we just ignore them, the Police give them a ride to the town limits, or dump them inside of a different precinct. Yes, in some cases, they are brutally murdered, or merely set on fire. Yes, we treat our homeless better.

I took issue, the other day, on the matter of the homeless. Two homeless men wandered into our Occupy site, one of our Peacemakers, and a member of the kitchen staff refused them a meal. I was amazed, and since I provide much of the food to feed the members of the Occupy site, the 99%, I was taken back by their refusal, after all, they are us, the 99%, just in dirtier clothes. No Matter, they received a meal, and refusal will not happen again.

"There but for the Grace of God, go I"

Ashley Meyers
Ashley Meyers5 years ago

This is absolutely awful. Signed the petition. I am so grateful that this is not being done in America. If it were, I would not be alive today.

Maarja L.
Maarja L5 years ago

This really is awful.