Colombians demand that the government cease the killing of former FARC guerrillas



The constant murder of former FARC guerrillas who accepted the peace agreement on Tuesday led hundreds of people to demonstrate with a cacerolazo in downtown Bogotá to demand that the Colombian government stop what they consider a “genocide.”

The protesters, who raised flags of the FARC party, convener of the protest, did not however fill the Journalists Park on an afternoon marked by a heavy downpour.

Attendees lit candles on the floor and extended allusive banners to murdered ex-combatants, such as Dimar Torres, who was shot dead by a soldier in April last year in a rural convention area, which is part of the troubled Catatumbo region, in the department of Norte de Santander (northeast).

“Let this stop now, may the president give security guarantees for our partners, stop the genocide throughout the territory with the signatories of the peace agreement and with the social leaders,” said FARC party senator Victoria Sandino.

BLOOD BATH

According to figures from the FARC party, which emerged from the demobilization of the former guerrilla, since December 1, 2016, when the peace agreement signed a week earlier came into force, 186 ex-combatants have been killed, an average of almost five a month.

This wave of violence was warned by the UN in a report presented last December 31 in which it said that only in 2019 at least 77 ex-guerrillas were killed in Colombia, and also reported 14 disappearances and 29 attempted homicide.

These deaths led the agency to qualify 2019 as “the most violent year” for former FARC guerrillas who accepted the Colombian peace agreement.

CONFIRMED FEARS

“We knew that this was going to happen,” said Sandino, who recalled that due to this situation, mechanisms to prevent them were established in the peace agreement, which have not worked as expected.

The highest number of killings against demobilized FARC has occurred in the departments of Cauca and its neighbor Nariño, both in the southwest, as well as in Antioquia (northwest), Caquetá (south) and Norte de Santander.

These departments have as a common denominator that there is a strong presence of armed groups such as the FARC dissidents, drug gangs as well as guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), indicated by the Government as responsible for most of the murders of ex-guerrillas.

Sandino announced that despite the situation, the FARC “will be throughout the territory exercising actions until this Government and this State listen to those who have bet everything on the peace of Colombia.”

STATE EFFORTS

Faced with the situation denounced by the FARC, the Colombian Government has reiterated that it will not leave the demobilized alone and that it makes efforts to provide them with protection and productive projects for their reintegration as part of the peace agreement.

The Presidential Councilor for Stabilization and Consolidation, Emilio Archila, said yesterday: “We are not going to leave the ex-combatants alone, we are not going to let the hampons keep snatching them from us.”

The statement contrasts with what was said by the attorney general of Colombia, Fernando Carrillo, who affirms that it is urgent to coordinate actions and strengthen the security schemes of those who left their weapons.

Given this, the Government assures that although it provides protection to thousands of ex-guerrillas, the fact that they are dispersed in some 522 municipalities constitutes the “greatest security challenge” since they live in areas with the presence of different illegal armed groups.

For his part, FARC senator Julián Gallo, who in his time as a guerrilla was known as Carlos Antonio Lozada, says that the government of President Iván Duque handles a double speech because while he says abroad that the peace agreement is progressing, in Colombia they are still killed demobilized.

Lozada has said that he will take his complaints to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a problem so serious that the UN considers that the murders of former guerrillas and social leaders continue to be the main threat to the consolidation of peace in Colombia.

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