Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Putting some faces to the numbers 

In the previous post we discussed the political genocide that was carried out in Colombia against the Patriotic Union - a leftist political party that was trying to participate in electoral politics in the 80s and 90s. Thousands of party leaders were killed - virtually its entire leadership, its candidates for office and sitting office holders from the national Senate to local councils.

But numbers are, of course, only numbers and don't convey the reality of what this is. For that a documentary may be a little more helpful.

In the following six video I present the documentary Exterminio en Colombia (El Baile Rojo) - Extermination in Colombia (The Red Dance).

It is in Spanish and I don't have time to subtitle it now but hopefully most readers will at least be able to get the gist of what it shows, even if they don't understand every last detail.

Part I. Here we start out with an international human rights activist making the important point that what happened to the Patriotic Union in Colombia was unique in that it is about the only case where one political tendency in what is nominally a democracy was systematically exterminated:

Part II. Here we hear the UPs first presidential candidate speak before he was assassinated. He claimed to not fear death as the leaders killed would be be replaced by the upcoming youth of the UP. He naively underestimated what systematic killing all the leaders would do to any organization:

Part III. Interestingly in this video we see one person describing how they, the members of the Patriotic Union, argued with other leftists who asserted that in Colombia the conditions didn't allow for a legal and open social movement and who therefore joined the insurgency. Tragically, not only were the Patriotic Union people proven wrong, but they paid for their mistake with their lives:

Part IV. In this segment we see a Senator and presidential candidate who called, among other things, for the insurgents to take concrete steps to show they wanted peace and an end to the conflict. Of course, he was later assassinated:

Part V. In this one after murdering one activist and much of his family the lawyer who won some money from the government on behalf of the survivors was also later killed.

Part VI. In this part we see a legal process in the Inter-American court that is so slow and meaningless its hard to believe people are foolish enough to go forward with it. When the case was first brought in 1993 little more than a sixteen hundred UP activists had been murdered. By the time this documentary was made ten years later it was up to over three thousand.

Maybe the court was thinking if it just dragged things out long enough the case would go away as all the plaintants would be dead. Sadly, if that was their plan, it seems to have worked.


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