Colombia’s second largest criminal organization has released a pamphlet calling for the assassination of presidential and congressional candidates of Colombian left-wing political parties, the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica – UP) and the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriotica – MP).
“Los Rastrojos,” formerly Colombia’s most powerful criminal organization, has released a pamphlet placing bounties on the heads of prominent members of the left-wing political parties UP and Marcha Patriotica, including the UP presidential candidate Aida Avella and former senator Piedad Cordoba, local media reported on Monday. The UP has historically been a bloody target for its enemies.
PROFILE: Union Patriotica (Patriotic Union)
“They have already given us the explicit order to neutralize the Patriotic Union (UP) candidates to the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies in the entire country,” the pamphlet reads.
“Especially for the head of Aida Avella, Homer Calderon, Carlos Lozano and Jaime [Caycedo]. For these first persons, the commando that takes them down will receive a reward of up to 50 million pesos [US$25,000].”
The death pamphlet also asserts that “Los Rastrojos” will be targeting leading figures of the Patriotic March – a leftist political movement founded by Piedad Cordoba, which has also seen at least 30 member systematically killed since its formation less than two years ago.
“[We are targeting those of the Patriotic March who are going around encouraging farmers to strike, impeding the good functioning of government programs, who are: Piedad Cordoba, David Florez, Andres Gil, Carlos Garcia, Nidian Quintero, Luis Betancur, Everto Diaz, Javier Cuadro and all the state and regional coordinators,” continued the pamphlet.
The director of the National Protection Unit, Andres Villamizar, has announced that they will be meeting with the National Police to discuss what measures to take, Colombian radio station RCN Radio reported.
According to Colombian radio station Caracol Radio, authorities are investigating the authenticity of the declaration, which was initially emailed to members of the UP, Patriotic March and other social movements.
Caracol Radio also reported that the Minister of Internal Affairs, Aurelio Iragorri, rejected the threats and stigmatization of political party members.
The presidential candidate Avella, who fled to Switzerland after surviving multiple assassination attempts during the systematic eradication of members of the UP, evoked the political party’s blood-stained history.
“[This pamphlet fills our party with fear] because history could repeat itself. Nothing has been learnt from the extermination that the UP lived through,” said the presidential hopeful.
Avella did, however, confirm that the government has been providing her with protection throughout her presidential campaign. She returned to Colombia for the first time in nearly two decades to accept her nomination from the UP.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s Ministry of Defense has announced that they have asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate whether or not the at least 30 deaths of Patriotic March members were politically-motivated assassinations, local media reported on Friday.