Colombia´s Unión Patriótica returns from the dead, campaign brings more threats
Colombia´s Unión Patriótica has returned from the dead, only to face more threats.
It´s little exaggeration to describe the Unión Patriótica´s return to politics as a Lazarus-like miracle. The Unión Patriótica was birthed by dreams of peace during negotiations between Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, or the FARC in 1985.
The Unión Patriótica was only recently allowed to again participate in Colombian politics. After thousands of its members were assassinated, in 2002 it was barred from elections by a government that claimed the party no longer had the public support to justify its existence.
UP presidential candidate Aída Abella – who has faced assassination attempts on her life, including one where she was fired at with a rocket launcher – said in an interview with Connecting Colombia´s that Unión Patriótica candidates once again face the same threats.
“The risks continue,” Abella said during an interview in a darkened room in Bogota´s City Hall.
She said a female candidate for congress, who she did not identify, was threatened recently.
“She not only received a threatening message on her telephone, but a threat was slid under her door as well,” Abella said.
“We have informed the government to see if they can provide us protective measures.”
In the darkened room, Abella joked how the honest politicians in Colombia still need to stay in the shadows. Dark humour notwithstanding, the death threats are serious.
When the interview ended, Abella´s aides helped her into the bulletproof vest she needs whenever she ventures outside.
Abella returned to Colombia only this November after spending 17 years exiled in Switzerland. She decided to leave Colombia with her family after two rockets were fired at her car while she was serving as a Bogotá councillor.
Abella had planned to run her presidential campaign primarily from Europe for security reasons, but returned after Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro – a former guerrilla leader with M-19 – was ousted in what some are describing as a coup.
The Unión Patriótica was formed in 1985 in an agreement between the FARC and the national government. FARC guerrillas and other members of Colombia´s left merged into the party that was meant to demonstrate violent change was not the only possibility for Colombia.
Many guerrillas gave up their guns and returned from the battlefields to fight for social and economic change in the political trenches rather than the muddy mountain terrain.
Their political campaign was met with a campaign of genocide.
Two presidential candidates, Jaime Pardo Leal and Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, eight congressmen, 13 elected departmental representatives, 11 mayors and up to 5,000 party members were assassinated
The number of assassinations vary according to the source, but what is clear is Unión Patriótica members were systematically assassinated by paramilitaries and drug traffickers often working with the Colombian army, police, secret service and intelligence agencies.
Many of the survivors fled Colombia with their families. Others returned to the mountains and rain forests to once again join their companions in a war that has raged across Colombia for some 50 years.
For more information, please read, in English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriotic_Union_%28Colombia%29