Colombia’s FARC rebel group denounced the assassinations of 29 members of the left-wing Marcha Patriotica party that occurred during 2013, calling on the government to increase security measures for the party or risk jeopardizing faith in the larger peace process.
In a statement released Wednesday, the country’s oldest rebel group reacted to comments made by ex-Senator and March Patriotica founder Piedad Cordoba signaling that the threat of violence aimed at members of her leftist political party may lead to its disbandment.
Lamenting the state’s lack of action to halt the political violence, the FARC said the continued assassination and intimidation of civilian political figures undermined the second agreement reached thus far in ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana, which provides for channels of political participation for a demobilized FARC and guarantees the rights of political opposition in Colombia.
“We are anxious here in Havana, where we signed a partial agreement with President Juan Manuel Santos to expand democracy and political participation in Colombia, because the facts alleged by the leader of Marcha contradicts our agreement,” said the FARC. “It’s a lack of awareness of the State’s duties, and a bad signal that continues to undermine our trust in the government’s word.”
In the release, the rebels recalled events that occurred during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the last time the FARC attempted to incorporate itself into civilian politics. Right-wing drug traffickers and paramilitaries, many times in coordination with government authorities, engaged in the systematic assassination of thousands of members affiliated with the communist Union Patriotica (UP) party, some of whose surviving members went on to join the Marcha Patriotica.
“We cannot tolerate that in midst of the peace process, the Marcha Patriotica be annihilated in a systematic manner, day-by-day, as occurred with the UP, not only in the face of the government with their underhanded participation, silent before the assassination, plotting charges against the leaders to place them behind bars, because they represent ‘dangerous ideas,'” said the FARC.
To reach a successful conclusion at the peace talks, the FARC said it would be necessary for the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos to encourage tolerance of alternative political institutions in Colombia’s democracy and provide protection for political activism and opposition politics.
Santos, who met with Piedad Cordoba and other opposition leaders last week, is apparently aware of the plight of the Marcha Patriotica, but his government has yet to announce any new measures to ensure the safety of Marcha members.
“Where is the tolerance proclaimed in the partial agreement on Political Participation?” said the FARC. “We must leave aside the flattering and sweet words about Democracy, when bullets against opposition to the regime are tolerated, to dismantle, in a calculated manner, any hint of an alternative political construct.”
- FARC denuncian exterminación de activistas políticos Marcha Patriótica (FARC press release)