Assassinations could kill Colombian peace group Marcha Patriótica
The Marcha Patriótica brought an estimated one million people into the streets to march for peace; now, it´s almost on its knees considering and closing down after an assassination campaign claimed 26 of its leaders last year.
Former Congresswoman Piedad Córdoba said the pro-democracy, left-wing, peace organization cannot continue without government protection.
Government officials and right-wing critics have labelled the organization – which includes some 1,500 organizations – as a FARC front. Accusations such as those are often followed by threats and assassinations in Colombia.
And that is exactly what the Marcha Patriótica has seen. In addition to the 26 Marcha Patriótica leaders who were assassinated last year, two others were jailed for alleged links with the FARC guerrillas. The FARC now are in peace talks with government officials to end some 50 years of violent conflict.
“We are thinking of ending the movement. It´s a very difficult decision,” Córdoba said in an interview published in Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. She compared the campaign of violence against the Marcha Patriótica to the one that claimed the lives of thousands of Union Patriótica members during the peace negotiations in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Córdoba as well, lost her seat in the congress for alleged links with the FARC when her name turned up in a FARC leader´s laptop computer. Those same FARC links once won the release of hostages and garnered Córdoba a Nobel Peace prize nomination.
She was also removed and banished from office for 18 years by Colombia´s right-wing Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez, the same man who now is on the verge of removing Gustavo Petro as Bogotá mayor.
On April 9, of last year, the Marcha Patriótica organized a massive peace march in the streets of Bogotá. Crowd estimates varied widely, with estimates as high as one million persons. Opponents of the peace process attempted to discredit the march by claiming it was financed by the FARC guerrillas.
President Juan Manuel Santos met with Córdoba and other left-wing Colombian politicians last week Córdoba said the future of the Marcha Patriótica was discussed in the meeting.
Two other Marcha Patriótica leaders have been imprisoned for alleged links with the FARC.
Another three Marcha Patriótica leaders were assassinated in 2012, bringing the total to 29 in the organization´s two-year-history.
Córdoba, who was once kidnapped by paramilitaries, said many more of the Marcha Patriótica leaders including her have recently received death threats.
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