After enduring a history of killings and disappearances committed by armed actors of the paramilitary and the State, a special protection program for surviving members of the Patriotic Union and Colombian Communist Party has been initiated by the government.
W Radio reported that Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo announced that a decree would formally comply with the Human Rights Commission stating that “the Government should take precautionary measures to safeguard the lives of members, activists, survivors and leaders of these organizations.”
The Patriotic Union (UP) was born from failed FARC peace negotiations in 1985 when a group of the guerrillas laid down arms and, along with other left wing groups, formed the UP political party. The UP subsequently suffered some 3,000 murders over the next few years, including congress members and the UP’s presidential candidate.
The party had ceased to formally exist by 2002 due to a combination of “political genocide” and the mass extermination of its members. The murders were blamed on drug traffickers and paramilitaries, but were allegedly aided by members of state security forces.
The Colombian Communist Party (PCC) is still active, despite also being subjected to persecution and assassinations of its members.
The new decree consolidates the Special Protection Program, providing security measures for leaders, remaining members and survivors of the Patriotic Union and the Colombian Communist Party. The National Protection Unit, the Interior Ministry, the National Police and other authorities at the national, municipal and departmental levels will therefore provide preventive and protective measures for members of the targeted group in order to “effectively guarantee their rights to life, liberty, integrity and security.”