More than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years

It appears that death has taken over Colombia and is refusing to leave. How many more must die to satisfy the Moloch of greed, opportunism, and ambition?

In April 1948, the popular uprising known as “El Bogotazo” broke out in Bogotá, protesting the assassination of Presidential candidate and likely winner Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. The rioting and subsequent repression cost more than 3,000 lives and resulted in the destruction of entire neighborhoods of the Colombian capital.

“The assassination of the liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, in 1948, produced an organization of thugs affiliated with the police and the army... These henchmen of the conservative regime spread throughout the national territory with the aim of killing liberals and communists, atheists and Masons.”(1)

Belisario Betancourt – president of Colombia from 1982 to 1986 – referred to the persistent patterns of social, economic and political exclusion as “objective factors” of violence.(2) This sister South America nation became the battlefield of drug cartels, closely linked to U.S. secret services, which were complicit in the extermination of social and political leaders that could constitute a threat to imperialist interests and the Colombian oligarchy.

During the Belisario Betancourt administration, despite peace agreements reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the April 19 Movement (M-19), and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), paramilitary groups and political and Armed Forces sectors opposed to the agreements provoked a new escalation of violence that culminated in the Palace of Justice siege by M-19 guerrillas, at the end of 1985.

The government of Virgilio Barco (1986-1990) announced the continuity of the peace process initiated by the Betancourt government, on the basis of the reintegration of guerrillas into civilian life, but the surge in crimes against the Patriotic Union (political party formed by the FARC/UP) intensified barely a month after the new Congress began its sessions.

On August 30, 1986, the first of the elected UP leaders, Leonardo Posada Pedraza, was assassinated in Barrancabermeja (Santander), while UP Senator Pedro Nel Jiménez Obando suffered the same fate in Villavicencio (Meta).

The advance of paramilitarism and drug trafficking later added further victims: Judge Gustavo Zuluaga in October; the Director of the Anti-Narcotics Unit, Colonel Jaime Ramírez, in November; and the Editor of El Espectador, Guillermo Cano, in December.

With the breakdown of the peace talks and agreements, the UP became a direct target for paramilitary groups. On Sunday, October 11, 1987, UP leader and former Presidential candidate, Jaime Pardo Leal, was shot dead by hit men when returning to Bogotá with his wife and three children.

The year 1988 went down in history as “the year of the massacres,” as paramilitary groups acted with extreme violence and total impunity against anyone suspected of being of the left. The culmination was the assassination, on March 22, 1990, of the UP Presidential candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, and on April 26, the murder of the M-19 candidate, Carlos Pizarro, while traveling on a plane to Barranquilla.

Some point out that there are differences between those events and the recent incidents that have befallen the long-suffering land of Colombia, especially in the years in which attempts have been made to build peace. Although some elements may appear to be different, in essence what was sought then and now is to deprive social movements of leadership, and exterminate everything considered to be leftist, or that simply opposes the interests of pro-Yankee oligarchic power in Colombia.

Following the process that culminated in important agreements in Havana, it appeared that – at long last – an end to so many years of war was in sight. The Colombian people breathed a sigh of relief, but the hope didn’t last long, as the violence against left leaders was unleashed once again and the crime wave grew exponentially.

BLOCKING THE WAY FOR THE LEFT

The latest report from the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office revealed that between January 1, 2016, and June 30 of this year, 311 human rights defenders and social or community leaders were killed, while 35 cases were reported in 2013.

This is a daily massacre, in which extreme right organizations seem to enjoy carte blanche, and the assassinations revive the specter of terror that hung over the country years ago.

Gustavo Petro, the 2018 leftist Presidential candidate, has demanded that President-elect Iván Duque speak out against the murders of those who supported his “Colombia Humana” movement in the recent elections. “His silence permits the empowerment of the murderers,” he stressed.

Only a few days ago the assassination of Ana María Cortés, secretary of Petro’s campaign in Cáceres, was made known. Alberto Brunori, Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Colombia, has stated that the defense of human rights in the country is practiced under siege.

There are already thousands of dead and disappeared, and the figure increases daily. The “condor” that bloodied Latin America seems to have spread its wings over Colombia, and the current criminal offensive attempts, without a doubt, to eliminate any opposition.

During the recent elections, the mass private media unleashed a strong smear campaign against the left, demonizing progressive leaders, former guerrillas, unscrupulously deceiving and sowing fear among the population. The objective was to block the way for the left.

The judicial persecution and subsequent accusations against former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich is part of the neo-fascist offensive on the continent.

And as if that were not enough, President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos announced in a televised address to the entire country on May 26, as a great achievement, the imminent formalization in Brussels of the Colombia’s entry into NATO as a global partner. “We will be the only country in Latin America with this privilege,” Santos declared. The announcement became a reality on May 31.

In a region declared a “Zone of Peace,” some right-wing governments seem to be playing with something as sacred and necessary as life itself. The United States is attempting to turn Colombia into its South American aircraft carrier, a NATO missile against Venezuela, a bastion of its hegemonic interests, covering it with military bases. To achieve its aims, it needs to be able to act with complete calm, without any obstacles, which is why it is building Yankee pax, in a scenario in which social leaders are also a hindrance.

(1)From: Fidel Castro Ruz, La Paz en Colombia, (Havana: Editora Política, 2008): 67
(2)Marc Chernick, U.S. political scientist and researcher at Georgetown University, Washington, in his recent book Acuerdo posible. Taken from: Fidel Castro Ruz, La Paz en Colombia, (Havana: Editora Política, 2018): 257.

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Colombia: Duque To Review Santos' Recognition Of Palestine

President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos' decision, which was detailed in an August 3 letter.

Colombia's new government said it would review former President Juan Manuel Santos' recognition of Palestine after the previously unreleased decision was made public on Wednesday.

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President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos' decision, which was detailed in an August 3 letter to the Palestinian representative in Colombia,  the foreign ministry said.

"Given possible omissions that could come to light about the way in which this decision was taken by the outgoing president, the government will cautiously examine its implications and will act according to international law," new Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said in a statement.

Santos decided to recognize Palestine as a "free, independent and sovereign state," according to the letter, which was circulated to Reuters and other reporters by the foreign ministry.

"Just as the Palestinian people have a right to constitute an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace alongside its neighbors," the letter said. 

The Israeli embassy in Bogota said it was surprised and disappointed. 

"We ask the Colombian government to reverse the decision made by the previous administration in its last days, which contravenes the close relations, extensive cooperation in vital areas and interests of both countries," it said in a statement posted to its Twitter account.

The decision came to light during a visit to Colombia by United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She attended Duque's inauguration on Tuesday and on Wednesday visited Venezuelan migrants in the northern border city of Cucuta.

The United States, a close ally of Israel, was getting more information about the situation and had no immediate comment, the U.S. mission to the United Nations said.

"We thank the Colombian government for this decision and we are sure that it will contribute significantly to generating the necessary conditions in the search for peace in the Middle East," the Palestine representative said in a statement on Wednesday.

Palestine has been recognized as a sovereign state by the U.N. General Assembly, the International Criminal Court and at least 136 countries.

Palestine seeks to create a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands that Israel captured in the 1967 war.

Colombia abstained in December from a vote by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on a resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor.

 (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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Maduro says failed drone assassination attempt was against all Venezuelans, not just him

The Venezuelan President has shared details of Saturday’s botched drone assassination attempt and presented evidence of alleged Colombian involvement in the plot. Releasing several videos on the failed attack, Nicolas Maduro said that perpetrators had been offered millions of dollars as reward for his execution.

 “They were offered $50 million and a stay in the United States,” said the voice that narrates the videos. The culprits allegedly received special training to "handle drones and explosives" at a farm in Colombia for three months prior to the failed strike.

The attackers were advised to split into two groups and use two drones with explosive charges to attack Maduro. The president pointed at retired Colonel Oswaldo Valentín García as the alleged “chief of the assassins.”

Statements from the six suspects arrested so far also pointed to involvement by Julio Borges, an opposition leader living in exile in Colombia, the president told the nation. Maduro emerged unharmed on Saturday, after a drone exploded near a military event in Caracas, where he was giving a speech. Seven soldiers were injured in the blast.

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Cuban Shooting Wins in CentAm Standard Pistol

Barranquilla, Colombia, Jul 31 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban shooting team took today the maximum honors in the men''s 25-meter standard pistol competition, since it won in the Central American and Caribbean Games individual and team competitions.

Jorge Grau ratified his favoritism and won the gold medal in the men's event with 567 points, to relegate the Guatemalan Jose Castillo, winner of the silver medal (561 units), and the Colombian Alex Peralta, worthy winner of the bronze medal with 560 points.

In the fight by teams, the triad of Grau, Jorge Alvarez and Leuris Pupo reached the title with 1,685 points, record for the Central-Caribbean event.

The silver medal corresponded to Guatemalans Jose Castillo, Marvin Herrera and Wilmar Madrid, with 1,662 points, and the bronze to Venezuelans Felipe Beuvrin, Douglas Gomez and Edilio Centeno (1,644).

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Cuban Foreign Minister Receives Colombian Peer

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez received his Colombian counterpart, Maria Angela Holguin, in this capital, the Foreign Ministry said today.

At a cordial meeting, the two officials discussed issues related to the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) that are taking place in Havana.

The Colombian minister was accompanied by her country's high commissioner for Peace, Rodrigo Rivera, and other figures involved in the dialogue.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos noted that he would work until the last day of his administration, which will end on August 7, to hand over the next government a peace process with the ELN that is 'under way and on very solid bases'.

The ELN said that it is trying to advance the talks in a way that will allow the next occupant of the Nariño House (Ivan Duque) to appoint a new delegation and continue the peace agenda without great trauma.

Pablo Beltran, the commander of the insurgent force who is heading the negotiating delegation, told Prensa Latina that they have been instructed not to leave the table and to insist on the continuity of the peace talks.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Flag, First to Wave in the Center-Caribbean Village

The Cuban flag became today the first to wave in the Center-Caribbean Village, after the official lifting ceremony in which the national anthem of the Antillean Island was also sung.

Approximately 100 members of the Cuban delegation met under the constant strong sun and heat in this city of northern Colombia, representing the over 700 athletes and coaches that make up the entire representation.

The mayor of the Village, Patricia Puccini, showed her enthusiasm in welcoming the Cubans, whom she identified as one of the great animators of the Central American and Caribbean Games, that will start next Thursday, and expressed her desire to make a big star role, as has been the practice for several decades.

The head of the Cuban Mission, Antonio Becalli, thanked Cuba for being the first country to see its national flag waving.

So far, representatives of 30 countries have arrived at the facility and tomorrow the arrival of the 37 delegations that will attend the multisport event in Central America and the Caribbean will be completed, according to Jose Fernando Espinosa, Protocol Director of the event.

On Wednesday will be the culmination of the arrival of the Central Caribbean flame to the Village, where it will rest until Thursday that it will travel its final route to the Roberto Melendez Stadium, where the opening ceremony will take place.

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Piedad Cordoba Highlights Fidel Castro's Legacy at Sao Paulo Forum

Bogota, Jul 9 (Prensa Latina) Former Colombian Presidential Candidate Piedad Cordoba today highlighted the legacy of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, as the founder of the Sao Paulo Forum.

In exclusive statements to Prensa Latina, the renowned lawyer, politician and former senator noted the significance of the 24th edition of the Sao Paulo Forum, to be held in Havana from July 15 to 17.

On the meeting of the main progressive parties and organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, she noted that the best tribute to Fidel Castro is to continue the struggle and move forward along the path of those like him who have been determinant in the history of the Forum.

Asked about the significance of the meeting in the current situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cordoba underlined that the Sao Paulo Forum is the hope for our continent at present.

Above all, after the shift to the right in the balance of forces that has taken place in the region and in light of the intention by the Pentagon and the White House to continue their plans to destabilize alternative and progressive projects, she explained.

Regarding the venue of the event, she said that Havana 'offers an incentive and support to continue along the path of transformations that many parties and movement from all over the continent and other parts of the world have for long vindicated and fought for.'

'We will meet at the house of Fidel Castro, founder of the Forum and a vital beacon for those who believe in Latin American integration; hundreds of parties, movements and organizations that struggle for justice and human rights will meet to revitalize ourselves and be able to continue the struggle,' Cordoba stressed.

Cordoba, who is also the representative of the Colombian movement Poder Ciudadano (Citizen's Power), called on all participants in the Sao Paulo Forum to further strengthen the ties of brotherhood.

'Very tough times will come for us, Colombians, in light of an imminent reconfiguration and intensification of the domestic war that is more serious than the one that we have already had,' she noted about her country's sociopolitical situation.

She underlined that the meeting in the Cuban capital will be an opportunity to express solidarity to other peoples of the region who need it, like Venezuela and Ecuador.

Finally, the outstanding advocate of peace and the rights of the excluded in Colombia pointed out that the Forum must issue a declaration of solidarity with former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, currently indicted and persecuted by the government of Lenin Moreno, she stated.

  • Published in Cuba

Colombia Wins 3-0 Over Poland in World Cup

After a loss against Japan Colombia wins big against Poland.

Goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao, and Juan Cuadrado gave Colombia a convincing 3-0 win on Sunday against Poland, who were eliminated from contention at the World Cup before their last Group H match.

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Japan and Senegal, who both picked up wins in their first games, drew 2-2 earlier on Sunday and are in a battle with Colombia to qualify for the knockout stage.

Mina headed home from close range in the 40th minute when midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero caught the Poland defense off guard from a short corner with a smart clipped pass to James Rodriguez who whipped it in first time with his left foot.

Quintero's defense-splitting pass then gave captain Falcao, who missed the 2014 tournament due to injury, his first World Cup goal in the 70th, while Rodriguez got his second assist five minutes later when he set up Cuadrado to make it 3-0.

  • Published in Sports
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