A pamphlet signed by paramilitary group AGC vowed the “systematic extermination” of supporters of one the most popular political opponents of far-right President Ivan Duque’s.
The pamphlet that was spread in the northern La Guajira province on Friday followed a number of assassinations of regional organizers of progressive Senator Gustavo Petro, the runner up in the 2018 elections.
Sudden rise in opposition assassinations
This month alone, four activists of Petro’s political movement have been assassinated in what at best appears to be a terror campaign to impede the opposition leader from organizing a bid for the 2022 elections.
La Guajira is one of the electoral strongholds of one of Duque’s most vociferous critics, who said on Twitter he would hold the president responsible if anything were to happen with his activists in Guajira.
The general command of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia would like to inform the public opinion of the province of La Guajira that we have ordered, as an armed response to the various acts of political activism by communist factions, the systematic extermination of each and every one of their activists. In order to comply with the directives of the general staff, we will begin with military actions to achieve our objectives and eliminate this communist left that is hurting us so much. We will begin the extermination process with the communists of Colombia Humana.
“The worst prelude to an electoral campaign”
Ahead of the death threat, outgoing Inspector General Fernando Carrillo condemned the assassination of two Colombia Humana activists in the northern Cordoba province and Huila in the southwest last week.
These assassinations followed the assassination of Petro’s 2018 campaign coordinator in Medellin and another activist in the southwestern Huila province earlier this month.
“Bloody acts beginning to affect opposition leaders is the worst prelude to an electoral campaign,” said Carillo, adding that
“I hope this will not be an extermination as we have seen in previous times,” the inspector general said in reference to the extermination of the Patriotic Union (UP) party between 1985 and 2002.
Members of the security forces and their far-right paramilitary assassinated some 3,000 members of this party, which allowed FARC members to join after a deal with late President Belisario Betancur.
By 2002, the UP lost its status as a political party because its members had either been assassinated or canceled their membership out of fear.
The State Council returned the party that was the victim of the most brutal extermination during the armed conflict its political status in 2013 and has since teamed up with Petro in the opposition.
Duque’s party excels in hate speech
Far right former President Alvaro Uribe and his Democratic Center party have taken a lead role in stigmatizing any opposition to the government of Duque.
Uribe, who is investigated for forming a death squad dedicated to assassinating political opposition, had ignored multiple warnings that his hate speech justified the extermination of the UP, and the ongoing mass killings of human rights defender, ethnic minorities and community leaders.
The Supreme Court last month intervened to ban the Duque administration from echoing Uribe’s hate speech and conspiracy theories and allow peaceful dissent against the unpopular protégé of the former Medellin Cartel associate.