Unión Patriótica presidential candidate dismisses reports guerrillas could be behind latest assassination attempt

Unión Patriótica presidential candidate Aída Abella disissed  suggestions today that various guerrilla groups could be behind another failed assassination attempt against her on the weekend.

What´s needed is protection for her and other Unión Patriótica candidates who are facing more threats as congressional and presidential campaigns continue.

“There are things that are not normal, everyday there are more threats,”Abella said in an exclusive interview with Connecting Colombias.

Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said Monday there are indications that the ELN guerrillas were behind the attack. Earlier reports blamed FARC guerrillas, which the government implied could be involved when they said they were active in the area.

Both the FARC and the ELN rejected suggestions they had any involvement in the attack and said the government should investigate.

Abella is under tighter security after a caravan of vehicles carrying her, senate candidate Carlos Lozano and a number of assistants were fired on while they travelled in the oil-rich department of Arauca, on the Venezuelan border.

One vehicle received about 14 bullet holes, but no one was injured in the attack.

It´s the second assassination attempt Abella has survived. She was fired at with a bazooka while she was a Unión Patriótica councillor in Bogotá while she made her way to work in 1996. That attack caused her to leave the country for 17 years.

She returned this fall to once again lead the Unión Patriótica during its rebirth. The Unión Patriótica was born in the 1985 peace negotiations between then Colombian president Belisrio Betancourt and FARC guerrillas. The UP was meant to be a place where FARC members who wished to exchange bullets for ballots could participate politically, but the party attracted a wide group of constituents.

As many as 5,000 members were assassinated in a campaign my illegal drug traffickers allied with right-wing political groups. The Colombian state was found to be complicit in some of the violence particularly the assassination of Unión Patriótica senator Manuel Cepeda who was assassinated in August 1994.

For more information please read in English: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/24/us-colombia-attack-idUSBREA1N02C20140224

And in Spanish: http://www.rnv.gob.ve/index.php/farc-piden-investigar-atentado-contra-candidata-de-la-union-patriotica

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

4 responses to “Unión Patriótica presidential candidate dismisses reports guerrillas could be behind latest assassination attempt”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    ‘The left are to blame for everything in Colombia,’ say the FARC. It seems they’re right to point out the scapegoatism that abounds. It is difficult to see why the FARC or the ELN would be behind this assassination attempt. As you point out, it was right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers, with government complicity, who were behind it last time.

    • Connecting Colombias says :

      Well, it turns out I had to update this item. The defence minister was correct all along. I guess any time you have that many people running around with guns and that much fear anything can happen.

      • colombiadiaries says :

        Yes and well clarified in your subsequent post. Some consolation that the ELN admitted responsibility and apologised (which was accepted). I wonder what would have happened if the convoy had failed to stop at an army checkpoint? Raises issues about checkpoints and the potential danger the convoy may have faced on stopping. Certainly shows there’s no communication between ELN and UP. Perhaps ELN need to rethink their policy of shoot first, ask questions later. But as you rightly say, it all boils down to too many people running around with guns in a climate of fear.

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