Hundreds of Thousands March in Support of Colombia’s Victims

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 7 March 2008

Promoted by the National Movement of Victims and supported by hundreds of civil society organisations, March 6th was a day of remembrance for those tortured, murdered and killed by the Colombian regime. It was also a day of protest against the ongoing abuses.

All around the world people marched, but most astonishing were the thousands who took to the streets in Colombia itself, despite threats from paramilitary death squads to target those who got involved.

The largest march was held in the Colombian capital Bogota, where estimates of the numbers gathered in the central 'Plaza de Bolivar' varied from 60,000 to 200,000. It total people came out into the streets to condemn the regime and call for their rights to be respected in 270 cities, towns and villages within Colombia and at further events held in an estimated 140 cities around the world.

Threats against participants began some days before the main day of protest after José Obdulio Gaviria, a senior adviser to Colombian President Uribe, publicly stated that those involved in the March 6th events were linked to the FARC guerrilla group. Despite repeated calls to do so the Colombian Government refused to disassociate themselves from his comments.

However, despite the threats and harassment, turnout was huge with the political opposition and the trade union movement helping to mobilize people around the nation. Among those attending the Bogota protest was former Colombian Senator Luis Eladio Pérez, one of the four hostages released by the FARC guerrilla group on February 27th.

Efrain Aldana, the director of the Afro-Caribe Centre in the city of Cartagena, said 5,000 people marched in that city, whilst, another 5,000, despite torrential rain, also marched in the city of Bucaramanga. Local journalist Nelson Lombana Silva and local trade union leader Luis Enrique Gomez both reported that the march that they joined in the town of Giradot was attended by 2,000 people, including large numbers of students, peasant farmers and activists from religious and women's groups.

In the city of Ibague, where over 5,000 people march, the vice-president of the CUT trade union federation, Pedro Antonio Varon, reported to the crowds that a new mass grave had been found outside the city and said that "this is why it is so important why we are here, we need to stop the killings, we need to tell the Government that enough is enough."

Thousands also marched in the cities of Medellin, Cali, Manizales, Barrancabermeja, Pasto, Pereira, Popayan, Cucuta, Valledupar and Villavicenio.

Activities were also held in numerous countries around the world with some of the largest events being held in London, Madrid, Berlin, Washington, New York, Paris, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Chicago, Geneva, Sydney and Brussels.

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