The far-right paramilitary group, Aguilas Negras or Black Eagles, recently issued death threats against several members of the left-wing Historic Pact coalition, including the presidential candidate Gustavo Petro and the vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez. On April 4, various progressive and social leaders, threatened by the illegal armed group operating in Colombia since 2006, condemned the threats and the impunity enjoyed by these criminals due to the inaction of the national government.
Former senator and former mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, rejected the ruling far-right Democratic Center party and its founder and former president Álvaro Uribe for promoting paramilitarism in the country. “The Uribist project originated in a social acceptance of paramilitarism and today, it wants to continue maintaining the paramilitary conception in the exercise of power,” tweeted Petro.
Meanwhile, environmental activist and lawyer, Francia Márquez, criticized that it was the third threat she received in less than a month. “They want to impose the policy of fear on us in Colombia. We demand guarantees to exercise our political rights,” decried Márquez. She posted the photograph of the letter from the paramilitary group, and tagged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Support Mission for the Peace Process of the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations, the Verification Mission of the United Nations in Colombia, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office and President Iván Duque to bring their attention to the matter.
Es la tercer amenaza que recibo en menos de un mes, también amenazaron a nuestra fórmula vicepresidencial @petrogustavo. Nos quieren imponer el terror en Colombia.
¡Exigimos garantías para nuestro ejercicio político! Cc @MAPPOEA @MisionONUCol, @CIDH, @FiscaliaCol y @IvanDuque. pic.twitter.com/VQUA4O1nXH
— Francia Márquez Mina (@FranciaMarquezM) April 5, 2022
In addition to Petro and Márquez, 18 other political and social leaders, leaders of the Central Union of Workers (CUT), and members of the First Line social movement were also threatened. These included recently elected legislators for the new Congress Gloria Flórez, Ariel Ávila and Jahel Quiroga; current lawmakers María José Pizarro, Iván Cepeda, Alirio Uribe, Gustavo Bolívar, Victoria Sandino, Carlos Antonio Lozada; social leaders Rodrigo Londoño, Hollman Morris, among others.
For the last month, the Historic Pact presidential ticket, with Petro and Márquez, has been denouncing the lack of guarantees to carry out its elections campaign normally, and has been calling on the head of state to protect their political rights and the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the threats.
Una nueva amenaza se suma a todas las anteriores, mientras la @FiscaliaCol sigue con las investigaciones quietas y @MinInterior asegurando que podemos hacer campaña con todas las garantías y tranquilidad. pic.twitter.com/hp0MqUHqIB
— María José Pizarro Rodríguez (@PizarroMariaJo) April 4, 2022
The duo lead the voting intention for the upcoming presidential elections on May 29, with 36.5% of the votes, threatening to break the decades-long rule of conservatives in the country. This has made them the enemy of the right-wing political establishment and they have been constantly targeted with defamation campaigns in the mainstream media and on social media platforms, and threatened by illegal armed groups, allegedly supported by the Colombian right and the private sector.
Meanwhile, the situation of paramilitary violence continues to soar. According to the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), in the first 95 days of this year, 50 environmentalists, land defenders, human rights defenders, Afro-descendent, Indigenous, peasant and social leaders had been assassinated in different departments of the country. Additionally, during this period, 13 former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerilla group, who were in the reincorporation process, had also been murdered. In addition to these assassinations, over 130 people had been killed in 31 massacres.