Annihilation of the UP: how the left was rooted out in full democracy

The systematic, continuous and orderly extermination of the patriotic union, of its bases, of its sympathizers is by no means the only case of crimes that the Colombian State committed against its own citizens. We already know the exact number of false positives: there were 6,402 poor civilians, workers, killed by paramilitaries to present them as guerrillas killed in combat, in exchange for prizes or vacations.

At the end of June the Colombian Truth Commission presented their final report in which they attempted to analyze the causes and consequences of the decades-long armed conflict. More than 50,000 people were kidnapped, more than 120,000 people disappeared, and more than 450,000 were murdered between 1985 and 2018.

According to the Truth Commission, in 45% of the cases they were paramilitary groups, which arose and acted under official protection. The paramilitaries are followed by the guerrillas (the FARC and the THE N), and finally, state agents. Why is the case of the annihilation of the Patriotic Union something out of the ordinary? Because it was an intentional extermination of a specific political party, which lasted over time until it was completely eradicated.

Decimate communists, to the roots, destroy any possibility of their having a social base, persecute, threaten, criminalize their sympathizers, brand anyone who is not belligerent with them as a guerrilla, and finally, normalize their deaths, routinize their murders and so on. , during decades.

Sara already mentioned that the UP emerged in the mid-1980s in an attempt to pave the way for peace. The government of the then president Belisario Betancur and the FARC General Staff agreed on a mechanism that would allow the guerrillas to integrate into political life. The majority formation within the UP was the Colombian Communist Party, but the guerrillas who supported peace could join and had all their political rights guaranteed. All that on paper.

Shortly after the emergence of the party, the negotiation process between the government and the guerrillas broke down, leaving the UP militants completely unprotected and exposed to the extermination machinery. There began a process of annihilation that lasted more than 20 years, spanned several governments and culminated in the banning of the party. Behind all this were security agents and members of paramilitary groups, all of them protected by the State, which thus showed their willingness to negotiate.

In the first elections in which they participated, in 1986, they obtained more than 300,000 votes that allowed them to enter the Parliament and have hundreds of councilors throughout the country. At the end of the 80s they already had their candidate for the presidency, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, one of the favorites of the contest. Assassinated in 1990 during his electoral campaign.

What is striking is that in those election years the rise in crime occurred precisely where the UP had the most intention to vote. Four UP mayors were assassinated, along with officials from their administrations, in a small municipality in the castle. Four. One after another. Plans to exterminate the leaders of the UP had even been drawn up. One of them, the Emerald Planfocused on banishing the party and its influence in the departments of the Goal and caqueta.

He Red Dance Plan It was another program elaborated in 1986 to assassinate or kidnap leaders of the Patriotic Union. The plan Operation Condorsame time, same objectives (and also with the same name as the famous operation planned by the US administration and which affected the entire Latin America). The murders became routine, the stigmatization from the media helped society begin to normalize them and see them as something inevitable: in 1993 members of the UP denounced the existence of a new extermination plan, the Coup de Grace Plan.

A few months after that denunciation, the last remaining UP parliamentarian in Congress was assassinated, Manuel Cepeda Vargas. The fact is that the extermination operations were not limited to the leaders and members of the party. An attempt was made to uproot the mere possibility that this formation had sympathizers, a social base or survivors. For this reason, the civilian population became the target of attacks, as well as the party’s militants. In the early 1990s, within the framework of the so-called Return Planprepared by the National ArmyHundreds of party sympathizers were assassinated: trade unionists and members of community organizations, among others.

In this way, between exterminating the leaders, militants and frightening possible sympathizers, it was achieved that in the early 2000s, the National Electoral Council proceed to certify the death of the party. Officially, it was outlawed because they did not garner the necessary number of electoral votes to maintain their legal status.

All this happened in a state that called itself democratic, and it lasted for many years after the fall of the wall of berlin and the end of the Cold War. A supposed democracy where any hint of dissidence was systematically exterminated, not even of dissidence, but of a legal and recognized opposition that was slightly to the left of what those elites considered acceptable.

Related articles