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Colombia : a country at war
25 August 1999
Daily in Colombia we see the increased polarization of the internal armed conflict and the terrorism against the civilian population.
This terrorism takes the form of indiscriminate crimes against men, women, and children and the kidnapping of people for economic reasons in order to produce resources to finance the war. It uses the civilian population to force the law to exchange guerrilla militants in jail for soldiers kept as prisoners of war by the guerrilla. It is expressed in the continuing political intolerance and the killing of journalists to scare and against the free expression.
Jaime Garzon was a newsman, a political analyst, and a fighter for peace. He was united to the Colombian population through the interpretation of its feelings, its needs, and frustrations using tools such as humor, sarcasm, irony. He took a stand in favour of talks as the only real and effective form to make peace, and exposed the uselessness of the continuous bloody menace of the violence against persons and institutions. He showed his vehemence against the war and believe in peace with social justice. He was murdered on August 13th.
This terrorism expressed itself in the massacre by paramilitaries of 24 persons including children, in the county of Zambrano at the point "Montes de Maria" in the Bolivar State on the week of August 16 this year and the ensuing forced violent displacement of the population in the area because of the paramilitary menace. In the kidnap of Monsignor Jose de Jesus Quinter a catholic bishop in Tibu. In the kidnap and subsequent killing of Carlos Caballero former ambassador of Colombia to the United Nations on August 14th. In the frequent bombing and permanent combats between thew forced in conflict which as a result make the forced displacement of towns. In the utilization by the guerrilla of the pain and anger of the mothers of more than 500 military men (from the army and police) kept as prisoners by the guerrilla from the FARC-EP. This is to pressure the Colombian government to create a law on the exchange of prisoners.
As a result of the recent visits of the Sub Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, the American Congress is apparently preparing to approve increased military aid. This aid is justified on the pretext to fight drug trafficking. There is no word about generating concrete proposals and effective policies to substitute the illegal cultivation or making the socio-economic improvement essential for real change to occur. On the contrary, the aerial fumigation is becoming another cause of forced displacement of the population of farmers. This indiscriminate aerial spraying destroys not only the illegal crops, but also the crops which produce the food, and it also affects the health of the human and animal population and the vegetative layer of the soil.
The already high instability of the political situation in the region is worsened by the widening acceptance of the presumed fact that Colombia presents a grave danger to the region, and the ensuing increased internal militarization of the borders by Colombia's neighboring countries. The announced conversations of the Venezuelan government with the Colombian guerrillas are adding fuel to an already inflamed reality.
The situation in today's Colombia is of utmost severity. The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and its Colombian Section make an urgent call to the international community and to all the friends of the pacific solution of the conflicts to join together. We need to ask that the actors in the conflict restart the peace talks under full respect of human rights and of the Humanitarian International Law in accordance with the Agreements and Protocols Signed by the Colombian government. We need to insist on the need to seriously search for peace with social justice in Colombia in order to guaranty the right of life and free expression of the population to build the proposals towards seeking peace.
UN Office, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
For further information, see Warnings of "Vietnamization" of Colombian civil war.