The leftist Marcha Patriotica political party might disband, according to ex-Senator and party founder Piedad Cordoba, in light of a report released this week that said that 29 leaders of the just two-year-old party had been assassinated in 2013.
The Marcha Patriotica, founded in April of 2012 by a union of nearly 2,000 social organizations dedicated to labor rights and left-wing ideologies, released the names and descriptions of 29 party members who had been assassinated since the end of 2012.
The list is staggering as many of the murdered were not only prominent leaders of the leftist political party, but also several were notable leaders in large rural communities in Colombia.
The alleged killers are mixed, ranging from Colombia’s anti-riot police, ESMAD, to illegal armed groups, to unidentified hitmen on motorcycles.
The youngest victim was an 18 year old farmer, Jhon Valencia, who led and participated in many agrarian strikes and protests during a country-wide period of unrest in September 2013.
Piedad Cordoba suggested that while the number of assassinations has been staggering, there have been even more instances of unnecessary threats and “persecution,” of members of her political party. Many have been detained, held as witnesses, been subjected to tests all based on false information, according to newspaper El Colombiano.
Cordoba acknowledged that the risk is getting to high for their members, and that disbanding might be their only option.
“We think that it is not worth it to put these people at risk, put our leaders at risk in a situation so dangerous that does not only manifest itself in …stigmas, displacement, and disappearances, but rather now in assassinations and in political death for many of us. In this sense, it is very irresponsible on our part to not think on the decisions that we have to take in order to protect those who make up a part of the same organization,” Cordoba declared publicly this week.
Still, the career politician said that if security measures do not improve for opposition political voices in Colombia, they could be forced to dissolve.
The targeted assassinations of members of a political group appear very similar to the calculated and systematic killings of the communist political party, the Union Patriotica (UP), by drug traffickers, paramilitaries and the state in the late 80′s and early 90′s.
PROFILE: Union Patriotica
Edgar Sanchez Paredes, an active member of the Marcha Patriotica and one of the few surviving leaders of the exterminated UP, was assassinated by hitmen just before the start of 2013. Sanchez was 54 years old.
The tragedy of the UP is still in recent memory of many of these party members.
Cordoba also voiced her concern that the threats and assassinations have been happening while the government has been engaged in peace talks with the leftist guerrilla group, the FARC. During these dialogues, the FARC and the government have already come to an agreement on providing more security guarantees for opposition political voices so that history doesn’t repeat itself with new left movements such as the Marcha Patriotica.
“It would be very bad for society…for a movement to have to disappear…This would be a very hard hit for the negotiating table and internationally it would be received poorly,” concluded the ex-Senator.
Members of the Marcha Patriotica have already spoken with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos about this issue, who is aware of the situation at hand, according to El Colombiano.
Piedad Cordoba has long been clear about her own intentions of running for the highest elected office in Colombia, however in late 2013, the Constitutional Court upheld a political ban on her holding public office instated by a 2010 ruling accusing Cordoba of colluding with the FARC. Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, in the news currently for trying to ban Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro from holding public office, laid down Cordoba’s ruling, preventing her from running for 18 years.
- Marcha patriótica podría disolverse (El Colombiano)
- Marcha Patriótica revela lista de 29 dirigentes asesinados en un año (Caracol Radio)
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