UP marches to remember victims of ‘political genocide’

The leftist Colombian political party Patriotic Union (UP) marched on Thursday to honor the thousands of victims killed over the years from their movement in what has been called a “political genocide.”

PROFILE: Patriotic Union

Activities to remind the country, in particular the youth, of what occurred to the UP during the 1980s and 1990s at the hands of right-wing paramilitary and state agents are scheduled to take place until Saturday.

Chants of “we are the survivors” were reportedly among the rallying cries heard Thursday by UP members and supporters who braved the rain to pay tribute to the party.

The UP was formed in 1985 by the Communist Party and FARC rebels as the guerrilla group was moving away from war and towards politics while negotiating peace with the Colombian government.

Being utterly destroyed by the assassination of its members, with estimates of UP victims reaching as high as 5,000 victims, the party lost its legal status in 2002 and was only reestablished in 2013.

MORE: Colombia govt will consider reinstating Patriotic Union party

“There is no discussion of the political genocide and it must be discussed because it is a national disgrace. Not only must justice say what happened but our youth have to know the history so that it is never repeated,” UP leader Aida Avella said, according to El Espectador.

Avella herself just recently returned from Havana, Cuba, where she participated as a member of a victims’ delegation to the current peace talks between the government and the FARC. She has lived abroad for almost two decades after an attempt on her life in Bogota in 1996.

Citing recent threats against human rights defends, opposition politicians, and journalists, Avella said that it was “absolutely impossible” to openly declare oneself as part of the political Left.

MORE: Colombia’s paramilitary successors continue to threaten human rights defenders


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