Thousands of people – between 10,000 and 80,000, depending on the source – lined the streets of Bogotá yesterday, in support of a new leftist party in Colombia.
In a policy statement, the new National Patriotic Council expressed “its ethical and political commitment to finding a political solution to the social and armed conflict” that has plagued Colombia for decades.
According to the Spanish news agency Efe, the party will seek to occupy the political space left by the historical Patriotic Union (UP).
UP was founded in 1985 following a peace agreement between former president Belisario Betancur’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The political force disappeared within just a decade, after paramilitaries, State security forces and drug traffickers killed their leaders along with thousands of activists.
The council has joined with former senator Piedad Córdoba, former Apartadó mayor Gloria Cuartas, Senator Gloria Inés Ramírez and leftist leader Jaime Caycedo, who drove UP in the 1980s.
After a weekend of deliberations, the formation of the party was announced Sunday around midnight. About 1,700 organisations – with roots in social, political and prisoners rights movements – have joined the party.
Carlos Lozano is an activist and the director of the communist weekly “Voz.”
“[UP] brings together political forces on the left to have the option of power, which means we have to start dealing with elections,” he told the daily newspaper El Colombiano. “The priority will be to seek peace talks and land reform.”
The new party announcement comes on the heels of accusations from Colombian army’s intelligence unit, that FARC was requiring each of its blocks to allocate a quota for the founding a political party.
Although the country’s other leftist party, the Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA), was absent from the march, leader Clara López said the party welcomes new movement’s emergence, according to La Prensa Latina.
La Prensa Latina also reported that the PDA leader told a local radio station it will continue to pursue its own political project for now, although there could be a merger in the future.