Marcha Patriotica to welcome demobilized guerrillas

The “Marcha Patriotica,” one of Colombia’s largest leftist social movements, said Thursday that FARC guerrillas who lay down their arms are welcome to join the movement.

The announcement came from Carlos Lozano, a spokesman for the Marcha Patriotica and editor of communist newspaper “La Voz” today who stated that “it is the guerrillas who have to decide which path to take, but if they decide to join the Marcha Patriotica, I think we should open the door” and that the situation would occur ultimately if FARC members decide to take the offer.

Formed in April 2012 the Marcha Patriotica movement is composed of more than 1,500 Colombian social and political organizations standing to represent the most marginalized members of Colombian society.

Lozano also stated that if the guerrillas lay down their arms the Marcha Patriotica will offer them space within the organization but the state must guarantee them a place in society.

Newspaper El Espectador reported on its website that the Marcha Patriotica and the various crisis groups associated with the debate were in agreement that integrating mechanisms would be necessary to allow the guerrillas to publicly participate in familiar environments that would meet their needs.

Miguel Gomez, a representative for the Conservative party and associate of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe expressed his disapproval of the conclusions of the debate said it seemed to be “a negotiation of the Bogota oligarchy who has not lived close to war.”

The Marcha Patriotica has long denied having ties to the FARC. However, analysts expect the social organization to become the FARC’s political branch once the rebel group has made peace with the government. Negotiations between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos are due next week.

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