The marchers explicitly asked for the “demilitarization” of the area, known as Miranda, claiming the constant battles between left-wing guerrillas and Colombian security forces in the area put the lives of the community members at risk.
Protests have been going on for weeks, as more than 800 farmers were displaced by fighting in May, but only recently did the so-called solidarity march get organized.
Former senator and peace negotiator Piedad Cordoba, who joined the march on Thursday, told Latin American news network TeleSur, “we are here in Miranda, to join up with all these families who have been uprooted by an unjust government […] they are incredible the stories of the farmers who the army displaced […] what injustice.”
Expressing the sentiments of several residents, one of the marchers, Orlando Buitron, said “the earth belongs to us, the Army should not be here. Their presence means we risk getting in the middle of a firefight at any moment. We ask them to leave.”
“We are not going to leave, we will stay in the area […] the National Army works within the constitution and the law, which demands our presence where the FARC is, to try chasing them away and work for their demobilization or capture. Unfortunately, there are those who out of sympathy or obligation give in to the norms of the FARC,” said Jorge Humbero Jerez, the commander of a local army unit.
Colombian authorities claim some protesters were actively encouraged to participate in the march by the FARC.