Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deadly Democracy

A propaganda tricycle in Bogota, where campaigning has been generally peaceful.
While the mayoral elections in Bogotá have been carried out with a relative order and civility, that's not true in many parts of rural Colombia, where the campaigns have turned deadly.

El Tiempo reports that an astounding 41 candidates have been murdered during the campaign. In most countries, when even a single political candidate gets assassinated, it makes national news. But here, we've heard little about it.

The murdered include Luis Gonzalo Marinez, a Liberal Party mayoral candidate in a town near the Ecuadorean border in Nariño Department, who was shot by several men while campaigning Oct. 13th. (That same day, a mayoral candidate in Salento said that armed men tried to kill him and the current mayor.)

On Sept. 30, Giraldo de Jesus Gomez, a candidate for city council in Antioquia Department, was murdered by thieves who entered his home.

On July 11, Fernando Vargas Restrepo, running for mayor of the town of Yumbo near Cali, was shot and later died. Vargas Restrepo was a local congressman, and had made accusations that drug money had entered the campaign.

Pres. Juan Manuel Santos defended his handling of security (which people have questioned because of the guerrillas' recent killings of 20 soldiers) by claiming that the number of violent incidents connected to the elections was 'only' 97 - or 19 fewer than in the 2007 elections.

Either way, it's a sad commentary on Colombia's level of violence, which is unlikely to change much as long as outlaw groups continue managing huge flows of drug money.

El Tiempo: Narcotrafickers and FARC behind Candidates' Crimes

Ten Candidates have been Assassinated in the Valle del Cauca

Elections Under Fire

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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