Unión Patriótica genocide campaign survivors López and Abella unite for presidential race
Two survivors of the genocidal campaign against the Unión Patriótica announced today they will work together in the Colombian presidential elections.
Disappointing performances in Colombia´s congressional elections appear to have motivated Clara López and Aída Abella to put aside their differences and unite Colombia´s left.
López will be the presidential candidate for Polo Democrático and Abella will abandon her presidential bid with Unión Patriótica to become López´s vice-presidential running mate.
Both left-wing parties faired poorly in last Sunday´s congressional elections that saw former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe finish close behind President Juan Manuel Santos´s Partido de la U.
Uribe´s rapid ascendency threatens the Colombian government´s attempts to negotiate a peace accord with FARC rebels which could end the 50-year armed struggle that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, displaced more than six million people and mired millions more in poverty.
The Unión Patriótica failed to elect a single candidate to either Colombia´s Senate or House of Representatives in last Sunday´s election.
Polo Democrática elected five members to the Senate, down from the eight elected in 2010. Polo Democrático elected three to the House of Representatives after electing one in 2010.
It remains to be seen if Unión Patriótica can survive as a political party. After being created as part of the peace negotiations between Colombia and FARC rebels in 1985, the party shot to third place in Colombian politics.
But a campaign of genocide by paramilitaries and Colombian security forces claimed thousands of members – between 3,000 and 5,000, according to various reports – including two presidential candidates and scores of other elected officials and candidates. The party was reborn only last year after the assassinations exodus of many members for other countries rendered it impotent.
López worked on the campaign of assassinated presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal until he was assassinated in 1987. She was later a Unión Patriótica candidate for Bogotá council.
Abella represented Unión Patriótica on Bogotá council, but she was forced into exile in Europe for 17 years after paramilitaries fired a missile at her vehicle as she was driven to work in 1996.
Santos welcomed the united left to the campaign in a message published on his Twitter account.
“Welcome to the campaign the team of López-Avella, two brave, respected and respectable women. They will receive all the guarantees (of a safe campaign).
All of Colombia´s left-wing candidates have received death threats, reportedly from paramilitary successor groups.
Santos appointed López temporary Bogotá mayor in 2011 when then mayor Samuel Moreno Rojas was removed from office in a corruption scandal.
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