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Published On: Sat, Oct 28th, 2017

Colombian State convicted of exterminating leftists

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The State of Colombia and its armed forces have been convicted of the attempted extermination of leftists and will have to pay a fine to the Patriotic Union, a party initially started by Colombia’s Communist Party and the FARC-EP during the previous, failed attempt to achieve peace and the FARC-EP’s previous commitment to peaceful politics. The ruling is important because the FARC launched a legal political party in 2017, and assassinations of leftist politicians and community leaders highlight the risk of repetition of previous massacres.

union patriotica_patriotic union_UP_Colombia_2017Colombia’s High Court ordered the National Army, the National Police and the Defense Ministry to pay a $75,000 fine for the triple homicide of José Ingacio, José Francisco, and Nidia Reyes. The three are among the thousands of leaders and members of the Patriotic Union (UP) who were assassinated by right-wing paramilitaries, some times in collusion with security forces including the national army and police.

The $75,000 fine is widely perceived as a “symbolic slap over the wrist” with the message being a warning against repetition and the continued targeting and assassinations of leftists in the country. Colombia’s State Council and High Court stressed that the systematic killings amounted to the “attempted extermination” of an entire political party. The killings nearly ended the Patriotic Union’s existence in Colombian politics.

The Party (Unión Patriótica – UP) was founded in 1985 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the Colombian Communist Party as part of peace negotiations between the guerrilla and the administration of Conservative President Belisario Betancur. The UP was subject to so much political violence from drug lords, paramilitaries and security forces agents during the mid-1980s, that it led to its rapid decline, virtual disappearance and extermination.

After September 2002, the UP no longer had formal and legal representative status as a political party, nonetheless in July 2013 the Council of State of Colombia gave the UP its political status back, facilitating its members to run for office. It were the killings of UP leaders and members that prompted the FARC-EP to resume its armed struggle with renewed vigor and determination.

The High Court also ruled that government institutions shall the National Center for Historical Memory to reconstruct the violence that nearly led to the complete extermination of Communists in the country. The Center was established under the provisions of the peace accord signed by the State and the FARC-EP in December 2016.

FARC founding congress_Sep 2017_Bogota_ColombiaThe now demobilized and disarmed FARC-EP has this year launched a new leftist, Marxist – socialist party using the acronym FARC. In September 2017 the former guerrilla launched the Alternative Revolutionary Communal Forces keeping its FARC acronym and completing its transformation from a guerrilla to a legal, non-militant political party. Luciano Marin was chosen to be the leader of the party’s 111 member leadership group.

The High Court ruling is by many domestic as well as international observers viewed as a clear warning against a repetition of the failed peace process of the 1980s. Official figures show that some 50 political, grassroots and social leaders, most of them leftists, have been murdered since the signing of the peace accord in December 2016, one year ago. The unofficial number is by many seen as “considerably higher”. Threats, intimidation and other practices are also common in Colombia.

CH/L & A/N – 28.10.2017

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at nsnbc.wordpress@gmail.com

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