The leftist Marcha Patriotica political party might disband, according to ex-Senator and party founder Piedad Cordoba, in light of the apparent violent targeting of its members and leadership.
Founded in April of 2012 through the union of nearly 2,000 social organizations, the Marcha Patriotica had been one of the prominent voices in left-wing ideological and labor-centric politics.
Now, after releasing a report early this week chronicling the murders of 29 members over the course of 2013, the Marcha Patriotica leadership is considering the possibility of disbanding its national organization.
Piedad Cordoba expressed that while the number of assassinations alone has been staggering, there have been even more instances of unnecessary threats and political “persecution” directed at the members of her political party. Many members have reportedly been detained, held without explanation and subjected to invasive tests, all based on false information, according to newspaper El Colombiano.
Cordoba signaled that the risk is getting too high for the party membership, and that disbanding might be their only option.
“We think that it is not worth it to put these people at risk, put our leaders at risk in a situation so dangerous that does not only manifest itself in …stigmas, displacement, and disappearances, but rather now in assassinations and in political death for many of us. In this sense, it is very irresponsible on our part to not think on the decisions that we have to take in order to protect those who make up a part of the same organization,” Cordoba declared publicly this week.
The career politician linked the issues facing her party to the general targeting of opposition political groups in Colombia, saying that if security measures do not improve, hers and other groups will be forced to dissolve.
The violence aimed at Marcha Patriotica members calls to mind the calculated and systematic killings of the communist Union Patriotica (UP) political party by drug traffickers, paramilitaries and the state in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
PROFILE: Union Patriotica
Marcha Patriotica member Edgar Sanchez Paredes was assassinated by hitmen just before the start of 2013 and was one of the few surviving members of the original UP massacre.
Cordoba also voiced her concern that the threats and assassinations have occurred while the government has been engaged in peace talks with the leftist guerrilla group, the FARC. An agreement has already been reached during the talks outlining security guarantees for opposition political voices and providing a channel for political participation for the guerrillas, should they demobilize.
It’s unclear what effect the disbandment of the Marcha Patriotica would have on the peace talks, as the memory of the UP–the last attempt the FARC made to enter civilian politics–lingers in the minds of rebels and opposition political sympathizers alike.
“It would be very bad for society,” said Cordoba, “for a movement to have to disappear…This would be a very hard hit for the negotiating table and internationally it would be received poorly.”
Members of the Marcha Patriotica have already spoken with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos about the issue of security, according to El Colombiano, though so far, no new government policy has been announced.
- Marcha patriótica podría disolverse (El Colombiano)
- Marcha Patriótica revela lista de 29 dirigentes asesinados en un año (Caracol Radio)