The systematic assassination of members and relatives of the ex-guerrilla group FARC, but also of social and indigenous leaders in Colombia, are issues that will be discussed this 7 March in London by the former city councillor of the Patriotic Union and who is currently the vice-presidential candidate for the upcoming elections in the South American country.
Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín
At the time of writing this article, 56 people linked to FARC have been murdered: 42 of them ex-guerrillas and 14 of them relatives and others who in one way or another have to do with the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, a political party created a year ago by this demobilised guerrilla group.
When they launched themselves as the party of the former Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, marking the final step that would take their struggle to the political stage, they knew that what was coming would not be easy.
In fact, since they decided to enter into peace talks with the Colombian government, they were aware that although leaving arms was something that many people wanted – as they would contribute to the search for peace that is essential in Colombia – the whole process, from the initial talks to signing the peace agreement, including the abandoning their arms, implementing the agreements and reintegrating into civilian life, would be difficult.
And it has been. More than expected. FARC has remained firm in its commitment and – apart from the dissent of members who opposed disarming – has respected what they signed in the agreement.
However, with regard to the commitments that the Colombian government must fulfil, there have been breaches, slowness, lack of guarantees and indifference, among other aspects that are very worrying.
What is worrying and highly disturbing, for example, is the systematic killing of FARC members, attacks on their headquarters, threats and intimidation. Not to mention that peasant and indigenous leaders, who have no links with FARC, have been attacked or exterminated. This is clearly the case in the face of heightened stigmatisation of social protest and the left in general, and the growth of paramilitary groups and the intensification of their criminal actions in different regions of the country.
The situation has been aggravated by the war that has taken place through the media, social networks and public venues on the part of the ultra-right wing in Colombia (mainly of the Central Democratic Party, led by former President Álvaro Uribe). This war has used all forms to create a public opinion that is hostile to the peace process, its defenders and, therefore, FARC.
The result has been not only the crimes against members of FARC and social, peasant and indigenous leaders, but also the emergence of a hostile environment in certain regions of the country, where it is impossible for the new political party (whose presidential candidate is Rodrigo Londoño, and whose vice presidential candidate is Imelda Daza) to campaign.
It is precisely Imelda Daza Cotes (an economist who faced with the threats suffered as a councillor of the Patriotic Union political party had to go into exile) who will be in London in a conversation where she will talk about the systematic assassination of social leaders and relatives, the absence of guarantees for the new party and the lack of political will of the state when it comes to implementing peace agreements.
Imelda said “We are facing a real threat and that is to repeat the saddest pages of our history. A massacre like that of the Patriotic Union is silently unfolding. We call on the state to take action as soon as possible”.
The talk is held by Justice For Colombia, The Prisma – The Multicultural Newspaper, the radio program “Ventana Comunitaria” – London, blog Colombianos en el Exilio – Belgium, Agenda Internacional de Paz ( International Peace Agenda) – London, Marcha Patriótica – Great Britain chapter, AJÍ Collective and human rights activists in the UK.
Date: Wednesday 7 March, 6:00 pm. Location: Unite The Union, Diskus room, 128 Theobalds road, London WC1X 8TN. Nearby station: Holborn Station.
(Translated by Sydney Sims – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)