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The invisibility of victims in Santos’ speech

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In the middle of the celebrations for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Juan Manuel Santos, the invisibility in his speech of the victims of crimes of State has caused controversy.

For the Patriotic Union, which was about to disappear because of the genocide perpetrated by the paramilitaries, it is worrying that the State's responsibility for this type of crime is not recognized, especially when the threats, stigmatization, persecutions and assassinations of community leaders, human rights defenders, trade unionists and all those who want to achieve peace with social justice continue.

Below is the letter written by Aída Avella, president of the Patriotic Union, addressed to the Norwegian Nobel Committee:

“In representation of the victims and survivors of the genocide of the Patriotic Union, we address you to express our concern for the speech of the President of the Republic of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, a speech in which the Victims of State terrorism were invisible. Not a word about the false positives that cost the lives of thousands of young people at the hands of the military, or the extermination of the UP, or other atrocious crimes. To ignore them is to ignore the history of our country.

To recognize all the victims and not only those of the armed insurgency, is to advance in peace. To ignore them is to give encouragement to the numerous crimes committed at present - 92 from the beginning of the year - attacks and threats throughout the country. The extermination of the Patriotic Union, and the attacks against the Patriotic March, happened because the financiers and the masterminds of the massacre, not only against the Patriotic Union, but against human rights defenders, trade unionists and social leaders who paid with their life claiming rights or vindicating needs of communities, were never punished.

The lack of mention of the victims of the State in the award ceremony is the warning that they are not interested in recognizing, and less stopping the extermination, of which peasants, land reclamation leaders, human rights defenders, and nearby populations are victims as well as the people living near the areas of concentration of the insurgency that are leaving arms at present. Everything was expected of the Nobel Peace Prize, less the ignorance and the invisibility of the majority of the victims that were caused by paramilitarism with support of agents of the State.

The international community has being privileged witness of the inclement persecution of the Patriotic Union that voted for Santos in the second round of the last presidential elections, only to guarantee the continuation of the peace process that began during his first mandate and which is about to end up in the midst of selective killings in various regions of the country.


The purpose of this letter is to point out that the millions of victims left by paramilitaries and the State are missing in the President’s speech. Not acknowledging this reality places us again in the fragility position that we have suffered since the middle of 1985. We want to continue to believe in peace, but if the President has such a discriminatory attitude, what can we expect to survive in a country where paramilitary groups are resurfacing amid the fragility of the peace process?

We are grateful that you have granted the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombia and the President of the Republic, but we cannot ignore that the other victims are not recognized, because it would be contrary to our principles of inclusion and the hope of building a Colombia in which tolerance, that our country so much needs, is practiced".

Source: http://prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article20663

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