The Colombian State is “responsible” for the “extermination” of thousands of leftist militants in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) determined this Monday, which also ordered the reopening of the investigations. of those crimes.
The decision of the Inter-American Court indicates that “Colombia is responsible for the human rights violations committed to the detriment of more than 6,000 victims who are members and militants of the Patriotic Union (UP) political party.”
The UP is a Colombian political party that appeared in 1985 in the framework of a failed peace process between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government, but its militants were left at the mercy of armed groups that insisted on eliminating them.
Many of its members were assassinated and others were sentenced to exile, such as Carlos Andrés Pérez, former mayor of Chirigodó, exiled in Switzerland, one of the few survivors of the “extermination” of the Patriotic Union political party, in which its militants they were victims of acts of “systematic” violence for more than two decades.
“I have been quite moved by this sentence, it has been quite new for us members of the Patriotic Union. The impact has been great, it has been more than 29 years in this fight, in these comings and goings. Many of our people have died and (the sentence) is somewhat comforting for those who left us, (it is a way of telling them) that we will always exalt their memory,” Pérez assured.
Some of the victims were the presidential candidate of the UP, Bernardo Jaramillo, who on March 22, 1990, was shot dead at the Bogota international airport, and the party’s candidate in the 1986 elections, Jaime Pardo, who also died. after being shot at while driving on a rural road on October 11, 1987.
The Court determined that the judicial investigations into the crimes of the thousands of UP militants “were not effective and were characterized by high rates of impunity.”
in search of peace
Despite the joy that this decision of the Court produces in him, awaited for nearly three decades, Carlos Andrés Pérez recognized that there is still a long way to go to truly live in peace.
“To be in total and interior peace, we still need to search for our disappeared, finish the judicial processes that are necessary, the reconstruction of the country, that political participation and the true inclusion of the Patriotic Union. For example, I was mayor in that region and if I had not been detained, tortured or in exile, I imagine I would have been a senator or possibly a candidate or a president of the republic, like many of my colleagues. I think that there is still a long way to go to comfort and rebuild, I think that an important step has been taken through a significant sentence, which we cannot dismiss in order to continue working and continue rebuilding a fully democratic and inclusive country”.
Among the reparation measures for the victims, the Inter-American Court ordered Colombia to initiate, reopen, continue and conclude “within a reasonable time” the investigations to determine criminal responsibilities, for which the former mayor explains that this case is not completely closed: “This process continues, it being understood that there is a closure of the determination, but an agreement related to the different State entities continues to follow up and comply with the sentence.”
Pérez, who was a member of the UP, pointed out that entities such as the Reiniciar corporation and the Patriotic Union have dedicated themselves to coordinating processes with the victims and added that they are currently following up on the sentence, with what they call “the subcommittee for the reception and follow-up of the sentence, integrated by part of the exile of the Patriotic Union”.
Reparation to the victims
As reparation measures, the Court requested, among other things, to search for the disappeared, publicly acknowledge the responsibility of the State, and establish a national day to commemorate the victims.
The text indicates that as a consequence of the “rapid rise” of the UP in Colombian politics, “acts of violence began” by “an alliance” between paramilitaries, traditional politicians, police and businessmen.
Violence against UP militants “manifested through acts of a different nature such as forced disappearances, massacres, extrajudicial executions and murders, threats, attacks, various acts of stigmatization, improper prosecutions, torture, forced displacement, among others,” detailed the Court based in San José.
It also indicated that it was “a systematic extermination plan against the Patriotic Union political party, its members and militants,” which constitutes “a crime against humanity.”
The left-wing party UP entered Colombian politics after being founded in late May 1985, following peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the administration of former President Belisario Betancur.