As peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC progress, the former political party of the FARC, Patriotic Union (UP), requested the government lift its band and let the group participate in politics, something it hasn’t done since 2002.
The group allegedly sent a letter to negotiators of the government and the FARC in Havana, Cuba, asking that the defunct political party be included in the second round of peace talks focusing on political participation.
The UP has also requested that they be reinstated as a political party in Colombia. The group has been inactive since 2002 when the National Electoral Council stripped them of their rights to practice as a political party in the country. They have been appealing that decision since January 2011.
BACKGROUND: FARC party UP seeks rebirth
However, the political party was decimated during the 1990s with over 5,000 of their members murdered or disappeared by drug traffickers and right-wing paramilitaries, allegedly at the order of the Colombian state.
Nelda Forero, an activist for the UP said Friday that, “During various years we have been outside of the political life because we were obligated, but the truth is that we haven’t found another ideology that we identify with. Because of this, we ask [to be reinstated as a political party].”
Another UP activist, Juanita Del Rio, conveyed the group’s welcoming demeanor towards the FARC rebels saying that if they lay down their arms as a result of the peace process, they will be welcomed into the party.
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.