Monday, September 16, 2013

What the FARC May Have to Fear

A mural on 26th St. in Bogotá memorializes the thousands of victims of the 'genocide of the Union Patriotica Party.'
The tomb of assassinated Union Patriotica
presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal in Bogotá's
Central Cemetery.
Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of a peace treaty between dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and leftist guerrillas lead by the legendary Guadalupe Salcedo. After years of bloody conflict between the Liberal and Conservative political parties, known as La Violencia, the government and Liberal guerrillas had declared cease fires, permitting the peace treaty.

But less than four years later while Salcedo visited Bogotá he was shot dead in the street by police along with two of his bodyguards.

In March 1990, the M-19 guerrillas demobilized, signed a peace treaty with the Colombian government and began participating in the nation's political system. But the next month their leader and presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was assassinated during an airline flight, perhaps by the government.

During the 1980s and '90s, the Union Patriotica, a very leftist political party, competed for political offices across the country and on many levels. However, thousands of its members were assassinated by right-wing forces, including its presidential candidates Jaime Pardo Leal in 1987 and Bernardo Jaramillo in 1990, devastating it as a party. The killings are often referred to as 'The Genocide of the Union Patriotica.' Many consider the U.P. to have been the FARC guerrillas' attempt to participate in Colombian politics. Today, the party has been reconstituted legally and, if the FARC-government reach a peace treaty in Havana, the U.P. could be the guerrillas' vehicle for integrating themselves into Colombian politics.
A poster announces a meeting of the reconstituted
Union Patriotica Party.

FARC guerrilla leaders and the Colombian government are now negotiating peace in Havana, Cuba. Understandably, the guerillas have reason to fear the risks they could face after any peace treaty is signed.

And, of course, this coin has two sides. The FARC themselves have committed many crimes, among them assassinations of politicians.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

"FARC guerrillas' attempt to participate in Colombian politics." Union Leaders

Stuart Oswald said...

They really only have justice to fear.

Miguel said...

Unfortunately, Colombia's history shows they may have lots to fear.