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Colombia, unions, strikes, and anti-neoliberal opposition, 1990–2005

Hermann Ruiz


After a decade of brutal repression, a peace process with the main guerilla groups in Colombia was reached in 1984, with the government committed to guaranteeing democratic participation. One year later the Unión Patriótica (Patriotic Union, UP) was founded with this purpose. It did not take long to win popular support because its proposals included popular participation in state administration, the right of opposition, popular elections for local administrations, equal access to the media and information, land reform, and subsidies to small agricultural producers. From the beginning of the UP's activities, persecutions, murders, threats, and many kinds of violent assault against UP members were daily occurrences, entailing no serious investigation. In 1986 the UP presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal was murdered. Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa took over the UP leadership in the presidential elections. He was killed in 1989, the same year that the presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, Luis Carlos Galán, who also represented popular causes, was murdered. In 1990, Carlos Pizarro, leader of the Movimiento 19 de Septiembre (September 19 Movement, M-19), an urban guerilla group that had signed a peace agreement and was willing to struggle by democratic means, was killed. In 1993, nearly 1,000 members of the UP were assassinated, and hundreds disappeared. Up to today, 6,000 UP ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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