A rural leader who has been negotiating with Colombia’s government for increased support for the nation’s farmers said on Friday that there is an assassination plot on his life worth $150,000.
Cesar Pachon, a leader of potato farmers’ union Dignidad Papera, led government negotiations after a fierce nation-wide farmer’s strike in August and September 2013.
“It has been discovered by the state that there are threats against me offering 300 million [or approximately $150,000] to take my life,” Pachon stated in a video he posted online earlier in the week and confirmed in an interview with Colombia Reports on Friday.
In his recording, Pachon recognizes that he was putting himself at risk by initiating a citizen outcry in the town square of Boyaca capital Tunja during a visit by former president Alvaro Uribe earlier this month, who was hurled insults such as “Uribe paramilitary!” and “we want a decent life!”
The rural leader did not, however, think that he was in imminent danger.
“We don’t know where the threats are coming from, but we can say they appeared after we began to talk about politics, and not while we were carrying out the strikes,” Pachon told Colombia Reports. “They’re investigating.”
“[It could also be] because of some companies that represent economic interests for the country, seeing as what we are demanding here is that things should be for the people,” Petro added during an interview with Colombian news outlet HSB Noticias.
The threats are nothing new, Pachon told us, as Colombian authorities have been investigating the case since last December and have found that an agent has been sent to Boyaca to murder him with bombs and long-range weapons.
Although the state has have provided him with body guards and armored trucks, the activist would of course choose to spend his days in privacy, and in peace.
“I would prefer to live in a country in which social leaders of different ideologies aren’t under threat, but are rather backed and supported,” Pachon says in the video.
Pachon claims in the video that there is a “dirty campaign,” against him by those who “look to get rid of agricultural dignity, get rid of those who battled during the strikes and gave our lives in the streets.”
The “fighters” Pachon refers to are those who participated in the nation-wide rural upsurge in August and September of last year, during which tens of thousands of farmers went on strike — of which at least five were killed — and caused a road block that lasted 19 days.
Pachon’s filmed announcement also denies accusations against him claiming that he embezzled government money destined for potato farmers, stating that there was evidence proving his innocence.
“Keep on supporting us,” Pachon appeals to his supporters. “If we wanted to betray the cause, we would already be with traditional political parties.” Parties which the activist claims have already approached him on various occasions.
In November 2013, Pachon announced that he would be running for the Colombian presidency the following year as an independent candidate. Nonetheless, in what he qualified as “anti-democracy,” in conversation with HSB Noticias, his bid failed because the requirements were too costly.
The video was posted on Wednesday onto the Facebook wall of rural activist and founder of farmer’s community resistance newspaper Prensa Rural, Cesar Jerez.
“They’ve offered 300 million COP to kill agricultural leader Cesar Pachon, from here, our solidarity,” Jerez’s post reads. “We want land, rural development, social justice and peace. We demand guarantees for all the farming community leaders.”
- Interview with Cesar Pachon
- “Han ofrecido 300 millones de pesos por matar a César Pachón” (El Espectador)
- Denuncian plan para atentar contra César Pachón líder de Dignidad Papera (Caracol Radio)
- Ofrecen 300 millones de pesos por matar al líder campesino César Pachón (Radio Macondo)
- La vida de César Pachón vale 300 millones de pesos (HSB Noticias)
- César Jerez Facebook Page
- César Pachón quiere ser presidente (El Tiempo)