Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Marching for Peace

A peace flag waves in front of Bogotá's Cathedral.
Tens of thousands of people all across Colombia staged a huge 'March for Peace' today.
Marchers carry a banner down 26th St. 

Peace certainly is in the air in Colombia, with negotiations between the government and FARC guerrillas in Havana, Cuba "marching along" in the words of an official from the Arco Iris NGO.

Still, today's march wasn't without controversy. While Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro and other government officials participated, some conservative leaders refused to, because they consider the march's organizers to be a front for the FARC guerrillas. In fact, the march did have a decidedly leftist slant. I saw communist flags and lots of criticism of the government and big business, but nothing criticizing the guerrillas, who have and do commit wholesale human rights violations.

The march included many Afro-Colombians. Their
communities have been hit particularly hard by violence. 
The Arco Iris official, who spoke at a meeting I attended, said that the peace talks are promising because most of the guerrilla leaders are in their 60s, and apparently tired of warmaking. Also, he pointed out that leftist leaders (including Bogotá Mayor Petro, an ex-M-19 guerrilla leader) across Latin America have reached power by way of the ballot box, making armed struggle appear destructive, anachronistic and pointless. A third point is that the guerrillas are losing, making their fight look futile.

Altho the march wasn't about him, the event was planned for the 65th anniversary of the assassination of leftist leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán.

Ready to go?

T-shirts call for an immediate, bilateral cease-fire. The government has refused to agree to such a measure, believing that the guerrillas would use the opportunity to rebuild their strength and might not respect the agreement. 

Riot police wait in a park in the Santa Fe neighborhood. They didn't have much to do, as the march was peaceful. 

Ex-Senator Piedad Cordoba is one of many trying to inherit Gaitán's legacy. 

A demonstrator displays a sign condemning foreign mining operations in Colombia. 

A statue of a freed slave. 

Flags with Gaitán's image flutter over Ave. Septima. 

Parents with a banner condemning what they say was the killing of their son, an Army recruit, by the military. 

Gaitán's tomb beside his home, which is now a museum. 

'They will not pass.'

Peace on Board in the Callejon del Embudo. 

The newly-built Centro de Memoria, about Colombian human rights violations, appeared to open its doors to the public. 

After the march, rsesting in the Parque Nacional.... 

....and on Plaza Bolívar.

The signs says that hundreds of thousands of victims of Colombia's conflict live in Bogotá.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

How serious are they??? Or at least some of them. The look like this is just another of many marches.
And Gaitan??? Can we find another figure or symbol for the cause. Gaitan represent a totally and different time in Colombia, he is a nostalgic figure at this point. Can we see a Gaitan of these days in the new political landscape??Colombia is much more complex than 65 years ago...perhaps we need a different approach.
I don't know Mike, but this marches seen to roll in a maze with no exit.

Stuart Oswald said...

Marching for Enslavement

Miguel said...

you're right Mauricio. It wasn't very different from many other marches, but much bigger than most.

As far as slavery, I don't see any connection. Ending Colombia's armed conflict would be wonderful for the country and its people.