JFC condemns paramilitary attacks on left-wing parties

14 October 2019, London

JFC statement in response to attacks on party headquarters of the Patriotic Union, the Communist Party and the FARC

JFC is extremely concerned at recent attacks on the Bogota offices of three political parties in the context of upcoming regional elections.

In the early hours of Friday 11 October, the joint headquarters of the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) and the Patriotic Union (UP), whose candidates are standing for election as part of the Colombia Humana coalition, was attacked with gunfire and an explosive device. A note was left by the assailants with the words “we are back”.

Shortly afterwards, the office of the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) was targeted with banners torn down and a hammer left at the premises together with a note with the same message.

These attacks are a clear attempt to intimidate and threaten political candidates, activists and members of left-wing parties in Colombia and insinuate a return to the most extreme periods of paramilitary violence.

After its formation in 1985, between 3,00 and 5,000 UP members and supporters, including council members, mayors and presidential candidates, were murdered over a ten-year period in what has been referred to by a Colombian court as a “political genocide”. In 2011 the Colombian state officially recognised its role in the genocide and the UP was relaunched as a political party in 2013.

The FARC party was founded in 2017 under the terms of the previous year’s peace agreement. According to the United Nations, 151 FARC members have been murdered since the signing of the agreement in November 2016. In its latest report on the peace process, the UN said that FARC security is being undermined by budget shortfalls, adding that ‘[n]o efforts should be spared to allocate resources’ to guarantee security for FARC members.

The peace process played an important role in the 2018 presidential election being Colombia’s most peaceful elections in decades. The increased violence in this campaign highlights the urgent need to implement greater security measures for candidates and activists and for the Colombian state to intensify its efforts to ensure full implementation of the peace agreement. Not only do these attacks threaten specific individuals and the capacity of progressive political parties to organise, they undermine the peace process and the very notion of Colombian democracy.