The U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia condemned “the murders of Wilman Asprilla and Ansel Montoya, FARC members who were participating in electoral activities in the municipality of Peque, in the department of Antioquia” in a statement released late Wednesday.
The two FARC ex-combatants were gunned down at a parking lot after meeting with local community members at a political event to organize the campaign efforts for candidate Wilman de Jesús Cartagena, who would have been killed had he attended the meeting.
Cartagena is running for Congress as a representative of Colombia’s Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, the party that emerged from the former FARC guerrilla group after a peace treaty was signed with the Colombian government last year.
FARC called the attack “a grave infringement of peace” and denounced the “systematic murders of our leaders”, which resulted in the killing of at least 30 ex-combatants, while urging the government to “act in order to avoid a new political genocide.”
Today’s targeting of left-wing political figures by paramilitary forces in Colombia is reminiscent of the physical extermination of over 3,500 members of the left-wing Union Patriotica party during the 80s and 90s.
In 2014, the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia declared the actions as crimes against humanity and determined they had been perpetrated by members of traditional political parties in collaboration with state forces, drug dealers and paramilitary groups.
Union Patriotica was formed by factions of subversive movements, including FARC and the National Liberation Army, which had decided to work for peace, joining Colombia’s political-electoral system. This historical event and the current targeting of ex-combatants and social and political leader constitute the most important obstacles for peace.
The United Nations Mission in Colombia, which is charged with verifying the reintegration of ex-combatants and the fulfillment of the peace treaty called on Colombian authorities to “guarantee the free exercise of political rights during the electoral process.”
FARC members have also received death threats by right-wing paramilitary forces that oppose the peace treaty signed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos. Earlier this week in Cali a paramilitary group distributed pamphlets that read: “We will assassinate every single one of you.”
Santos’ government has denied the existence of paramilitary groups in the country, despite repeated warnings by the United Nations.