About the Election Day Live Coverage:
Colombia's May 29 election will be historic, no matter the outcome. But could violence and irregularities decide the election instead of votes? The Alliance for Global Justice, People's Human Rights Observatory, National Lawyer's Guild, and Colombia's Permanent Committee for Human Rights and Fundación Lazos de Dignidad are sending an international delegation to observe the elections, and to accompany threatened social leaders. We are sending teams across Colombia, as well as collaborating with other delegations. Our election day coverage will alternate between teams based in Bogotá and Cali, and will feature reports from delegations in those cities, as well as the Departments of Putumayo, César, La Guajira, and Norte de Santander. We will have special guest interviews with human rights defenders, social activists, polítical leaders, union officials, academics, and journalists. These broadcasts will bring up to date information in English on the day's events. We will also include a half hour of Spanish updates every two hours.
The transmissions can be viewed on our Facebook pages and Youtube channel as well as other places. If you register for the Zoom broadcast, you'll be able to interact with AFGJ and Centro Pazífico staff and will have occasional opportunities to ask questions of our panelists.
A SPECIAL REQUEST: This project has involved considerable expenses. We feel that these broadcasts and the associated observation delegation are so important, that we are committed to them even if it means losing money. Costs include equipment, rental of a salon to use as a base in Bogotá, paying coordinators, transportation costs, and more.
Help us make this effort a success with your tax-deductible contribution
Following is an excerpt from an analysis of the elections in the context of a comprehensive review of Colombian history. One of the co-authors is William Camacaro, who will be coordinating our live stream coverage from Bogotá:
Elections Loom Large Over Colombia
by William Camacaro National Co-Coordinator for Alliance for Global Justice
Anher Ordonez International Political Studies Pepperdine University
The armed conflict in Colombia was one of the longest-running conflicts of the
Twentieth Century and continues on some level even today. The conflict was marked by a high
level of activity on the part of irregular armed groups, and tied to a variety of other social
problems, including land and indigenous issues 1. The conflict decimated Colombia’s economy,
and spawned the rise of Colombia’s problematic yet lucrative drug trade. The resolution of the
armed conflict was for many years sought through the implementation of the peace deal, yet
when this peace deal was finally implemented in 2016 the violence directed against civil society
leaders did not cease. With the upcoming elections taking place in May of this year, concerns
over the possibility of electoral fraud and political disruption taking place are at an alarming
high. The conflict in Colombia was historically sparked by a clash between the Liberals led by
Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, who had a moderate pro-worker agenda, and the Right, which was
determined to defend traditional oligarchic interests. The Liberals were on course to win the
elections and take over the government. The right wing sectors of the country saw these
developments as a threat to their interests.
Gaitan was assassinated on April 9, 1948, leading to a massive rebellion known as El
With elections set to take place in May of this year to elect the next President of
Colombia, the role of center-left candidate Gustavo Petro is a central one for this election.
According to polls he is the center-left candidate with the greatest chance of winning since
Gaitan more than 70 years ago. This poses an uncomfortable dilemma for the country- can
a center-left candidate truly win in such a political climate given the obscenely routine practice
of political assassination in Colombia(Pizarro, Galan, Leal etc.)? 16 Over the past weeks reports
have come out of Colombia concerning payments that have been made to three hitmen totaling
around 1500 million pesos, or $365,539. The purpose of these payments is to kill Petro at a
public meeting in the department of Risaralda. The Petro campaign has also had to suspend
activities in a region due to threats from a paramilitary group known as La Cordillera. 17
President Ivan Duque has insisted that they are “strongholds” of the criminal groups.
From last Thursday, May 5, to Tuesday, May 10, the paramilitary group the
Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, or Gaitanistas, declared an armed work stoppage to
protest the extradition of their leader, Otoniel, to the US on drug trafficking charges. The
Gaitanistas cynically named after Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, even though their politics are the
opposite of what Gaitan stood for. This armed siege of Colombian territories, especially, but
not only, in the north, shows that the organization is cohesive on a national scale. They killed
at least 26 persons and managed to paralyze and frighten up to 178 municipalities in 11
departments, according to figures from the JEP’s Investigation and Accusation Unit. 18
To aggravate the situation, for months Mexican drug cartels appear to have been shipping
high-powered weapons to Colombia to purchase shipments of cocaine; it is believed that there
are more weapons in the hands of civilians than the army itself. 19 At the same time, it is
disturbing that with less than a month to go before the presidential elections in Colombia,
President Ivan Duque has given a salary increase to the Colombian police of more than 35%,
the highest in more than 29 years. The police generally act brutally against peaceful protests
and in many cases have close relationships with different paramilitary groups. 20
It would be a catastrophe if Gaitan’s case were repeated after 74 years. At this critical
moment, the international community must accompany the Colombian people and must be
alert to any eventuality that could cause a new wave of violence that could have undesirable
and unpredictable consequences for Colombia and the entire region. The Colombian people
are already tired of violence and deserve to live in peace.
Read the entire article….