Some 1,600 members of Colombia’s excint socialist party Union Patriotica (UP) were murdered between 1984 and 1997, according to a new book.
With his book, Union Patriotica (Patriotic Union), researcher Roberto Romero wanted to pay homage to the party of which he was a member by recalling the genocide of his fellow comrades, he said in an interview with newspaper El Espectador published Sunday.
In the 435 page book he listed 1,598 victims with names, locations and dates of death from April 6, 1984 to December 30, 1997.
Out of the almost 1,600 murders documented, only 137 resulted in judicial sentencing. Romero’s researched identified that areas of the most fatalities were Meta and Antioquia with 458 and 385 respectively, representing more than half the total killed.
The author said he hopes that Colombians never forget the past as a means to ensure peace for the future. He recalled the massacre of Segovia, Antioquia on November 11, 1988 in which, “The paramilitaries came and killed all those people. Then before leaving, wrote on the walls, ‘Do not come back to vote for the Union Patriotica. That causes death.'” Those murders resulted in the loss of all the party’s power in that region.
“To meet the cry of peace there must be changes,” said Romero. “Society has to accept that it allowed this genocide and should apologize.”
Amid rumors that the Union Patriotica was exterminated for its ties with the FARC, Romero said that after some years, his party broke away from the guerrilla organization and went on to condemn it. He said, “For example, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa sharply rejected the FARC and they just killed him.”
The author recalled his days with the party when he ran against the man who would later become the supreme commander of the FARC from 2008 until his death on November 4, 2011 – “Alfonso Cano.”
“I won an election against Alfonso Cano,” he said smiling. “We both were presented to the position of District Secretary of the Communist Youth, but I remained. He got so mad that I decided it was best to leave the job to him.”
Romero said that after a while, he was tired of hearing about his fallen comrades and reiterated what Bogota’s interim Mayor Clara Lopez wrote in the preface to his book, that at “every funeral people were saying goodbye: we’ll see each other in the next [life].”
“The frustration becomes such that you no longer feel. I think that is why Colombian society is so sleepy, from all the tragedies that we have lived,” said Romero.