Assassination campaign shakes confidence in Colombian peace talks with FARC guerrillas
The assassination of a number of left-wing, activists is shaking confidence in negotiations to end a 50-year-conflict between Colombia and its largest rebel guerrilla army.
FARC leader Iván Marquez said today the continued assassinations of Marcha Patriótica leaders – some by police and military – have cast doubts over a deal that would allow guerrilla fighters to give up their guns and do battle in political world.
“It´s a bad sign that continues to undermine confidence in the word of the government,” Marquez said from Havana, Cuba where negotiations have continued for more than a year.
Marquez´s ominous comments come after former Congresswoman Piedad Córdoba said the Marcha Patriótica – a collection of left-wing social organizations – was possibly on the verge of dissolving after the assassination of 29 leaders in two years. And 26 of those murders were in 2013, primarily in the last half of they year.
A number of leaders of the Colombian left rallied behind Córdoba yesterday in response to her plea.
The Marcha Patriótica has been accused by critics – within and outside of the government – of being financed by FARC. Such accusations often precede assassination campaigns, as they did with the Unión Patriótica when it was given birth in peace negotiations in the late 1980s.
Two presidential candidates and thousands of party members were assassinated after the party was formed as an alternative to armed struggle.
Now, the reborn Unión Patriótica is facing threats and an incident Tuesday in which police officers entered the party´s Bogotá headquarters and allegedly assaulted a party worker. Today a motor vehicle accident between a vehicle in Unión Patriótica´s caravan and a Bogotá garbage truck resulted in three of presidential candidate Aída Abella´s bodyguards being taken to hospital to be treated for injuries.
“For this peace process not to end in a farce or a comedy, in sounds of empty words about spreading democracy, it is urgent that the government stop the ordeal of the Marcha Patriótica,” said Marquez.
An estimated one million Colombians demonstrated last April when the Marcha Patriótica organized a march for peace.
Marquez reminded Colombians today of how Unión Patriótica leaders and members were murdered with impunity in the 1980 negotiations.
“We can not tolerate that in the midst of a peace process, the Marcha Patriótica is annihilated systematically, day by day, as with the UP.”
Marquez charged the government bears some responsibility in the killings because not enough is done to protect the vicitms nor investigate the crimes.
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