Last Friday’s march, in which thousands of Colombians and people around the world walked to publicly reject the horrors of kidnapping, was another successful and peaceful demonstration of the widespread yearning to rid Colombia of such a despicable reality. Yet, ANNCOL, the “news agency” ideologically aligned with the FARC, was quick to claim that the demonstration was a failure. ANNCOL’s lack of journalistic ethic is unfortunate, but their claims that social demonstrations for peace and human rights are failures, are outright reprehensible.
After the march, ANNCOL’s report described it as “rachitic” and simply “one more march.” The cynical understanding of a public and collective expression against kidnapping is hard to believe. It wasn’t long ago when many wondered what was happening to the Colombian people. Many asked, receiving no answer, why was it that Colombians didn’t pour out to the streets to express their rejection towards the deprivation of freedom?
Yet, Colombians and others around the world eventually found the calvary of those kidnapped by the guerrillas unacceptable – too unacceptable to remain silent. Millions took the streets to express their clear rejection to the guerrillas’ tactics. Those marches are arguably the most significant expressions of the Colombian population’s will in recent national history.
Any expression in support of human rights and of the freedom of those who have been deprived from it must never be considered a failure. Still, ANNCOL claims that the march on November 28th failed because the number of those in attendance didn’t match that of previous public outpourings. What the writers at ANNCOL fail to recognize is that even a single lonely voice, when rejecting the deprivation of freedom, is a voice that ought to be honored.
More so, ANNCOL has long rejoiced on the politicization of the issue of freedom in Colombia. They have equaled the Uribe administration and its policies with the expressions in support of the freedom of those kidnapped. Thus, they claim that this latest “failed” march is a reflection of the failure of the administration and its alleged disconnect from the people.
The politicization of social expressions for human rights in Colombia is quite unfortunate, as human rights should be above political differences, and should stand as bases for a true democratic society, regardless of the political disagreements of its citizens.
In that sense, while not every person that supports this plead for the respect of freedom necessarily supports President Uribe and his policies, if ANNCOL would like to pretend as that is the case, then so be it. What, one must ask, is so wrong about supporting the end of the use of kidnapping as a tactic?
In one of the most clear examples of expression of public will and public diplomacy, Colombians and citizens from across the world, have spoken once again clearly against the use of kidnapping as a tactic. Never, regardless of ideological and political affiliations, should such an expression be considered a failure, less so, by a news source that seems determined to drown out the cries of those who have suffered and still suffer the heartbreaking effects from the deprivation of freedom.
Author Felipe Estefan is Colombian and studies media and international relations in New York