National prosecutor claims solving select Unión Patriótica assassinations a priority
After decades of denial, Colombia hinted this week it could be serious about investigating the thousands of deaths of Unión Patriótica party members.
That the state could be unable to convict many of the thousands of assassins is beyond belief, especially since its long been established that military and security forces planned and participated in the campaign of political genocide.
National newspaper El Espectador revealed today a plan by Colombia Prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre to form an elite team of prosecutors to investigate and prosecute some of the highest priority assassinations of Unión Patriótica members.
The team of national prosecutors are to analyze 63 high-priority cases to determine which have strong enough cases to proceed and convict guilty parties.
The assassinations of two former Unión Patriótica presidential candidates are to be among those examined.
Jaime Pardo Leal was assassinated in October 1987 and his successor Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa was assassinated in March 1990. They were both victims of their belief in peace and democratic process.
The Unión Patriótica was born of the peace negotiations between the government of then president Belisario Betancourt and FARC guerrillas. The UP was created as a result of those negotiations. It was to be a party where demobilized guerrillas and Colombians not represented by the traditional Liberal and Conservative parties could participate politically.
But the party´s rapid rise in Colombian elections spawned a deadly partnership between state security forces and paramilitary/mafia groups.
As heartening as Montealegre’s announced intentions must be for surviving Unión Patriótica members and their families, there is plenty of reason not to be overly optimistic.
Montealegre is only one member of President Juan Manuel Santos´s government. And we are all aware that many things are done and said during election campaigns that never amount to anything.
How many Unión Patriótica members and sympathizers were assassinated remains in dispute. Massacres are a little like elections in Colombia; The number of votes or the number of bodies depends on who is doing the counting. Estimates range between 3,000 and 5,000 murder victims.
Investigations into the assassinations of a few non-Unión Patriótica members are reportedly to be included in the massive investigation, including that of Héctor Abad Gómez, a Medellín doctor who dedicated his career and lost his life improving the health of that city´s poorest, most desperate citizens.
Colombia´s claims to membership in the democratic community dissolve in the corrosive history of thousands of unsolved assassinations of Unión Patriótica members.
Whether Montealegre´s initiative amounts to anything constructive or not, will depend upon the political will of Colombia´s politicians after the presidential elections later this month.
Paramilitaries retain sufficient power in Colombian politics, however, as an independent organization Fundación de Paz y Reconciliación has estimated that some 25 per cent of politicians elected to the Congress earlier this month have strong paramilitary connections.
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Nothing yet available on this development in the English-language press, but this is a worthwhile article on the history of the UP and the disappointing election campaign: http://www.towardfreedom.com/31-archives/americas/3494-a-rebirth-of-hope-in-colombia-the-return-of-the-patriotic-union-party