May 2013        


Colombians call for solidarity

The talks going on now in Havana between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are an occasion for great hope that at last a political solution can be found to the social conflict and the armed struggle that have gone on for over sixty years.
     This conflict has its origin in the peasants’ defence of their land and livelihood against the state and the private armies recruited by the landowners. The United States has used the conflict to promote its power in the South American continent, using “war on drugs” and “war on terror” as a justification. It has deliberately prolonged and intensified the conflict.
     There has been a massive campaign in Colombia for a peaceful solution to the conflict: for peace with social justice, achieved by dealing with the issues that caused the problem in the first place. The Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March), which brings together many social movements and political organisations, has built up a powerful campaign. Its latest demonstration in Bogotá brought out more than a million people.
     The popular demand that it has mobilised, together with the fact that a military solution is unattainable, has contributed to the commencement of the peace talks.
     This is by no means the first time that peace talks have taken place. Bitter experience has shown how difficult it is to maintain the momentum, and how powerful are those forces, in Colombia and abroad, that stand to benefit from the continuation of the conflict. The need for international solidarity with the Colombian people was never greater.

Colombian exiles in Europe meet in Dublin

In this situation, representatives of Colombian exiles living in Europe met together in James Connolly House, Dublin, on 19, 20 and 21 April to study the possibility of giving support to the social movements, advancing the current negotiations, and furthering a peaceful solution to the conflict.
     Their conference received many messages of support, from political parties and solidarity organisations in Ireland and throughout Europe and from organisations engaged in popular struggle in Colombia, including one from the Irish Government and one from the Colombian Embassy.
     The statement issued by the conference
• stresses the need to give support from Europe to the talks in Havana; these talks should include the agenda put forward by the social movements;
• seeks a bilateral ceasefire, so as to create the right atmosphere for a productive discussion;
• urges the European Union to reverse its description of the FARC as a “terrorist organisation,” which it describes as an obstruction to political dialogue;
• condemns the persistence, indeed the intensification, of the repression directed against human-rights defenders, political activists, and social movements, which bears down especially on the peasants demanding the return of their land;
• draws attention to the grave humanitarian crisis in Colombian prisons, where thousands of political prisoners and prisoners of war are held in conditions which do not meet the minimum standards for a human being;
• urges Colombian exiles and immigrants living in Europe to commit themselves to the search for solutions to the root causes of the social conflict and armed struggle and to actively mobilise to back the political process towards a negotiated settlement;
• calls on European social organisations, peace and solidarity movements and internationalists in support of social struggles to involve themselves in solidarity with the Colombian popular movements striving for peace with social justice, and to urge their governments to give decisive backing to the talks so as to facilitate a peaceful agreement.

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