Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia

By Steven Dudley | Go to book overview
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During those first bloody years, the UP simply tried to survive the onslaught. But there was no clear strategy on how to deal with the attacks. The killings were happening so often that the party was left constantly off balance. Some party militants eventually took refuge, but many others stuck out their chests and waited for the bullets to come. Throughout, the party pressured the government to comply with the treaty it had signed with the FARC, the Uribe Agreement. "The Government, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws, will give the Unión Patriótica the guarantees and security it needs so that it can campaign as well as participate in elections in the same way other political parties do," the 1984 agreement read. "The government will use all the force of the law against any citizen or authority that inhibits these rights or denies, ignores, or refuses to recognize the rights that they [the members of the new party] have."

Of course, now that the peace process had ended, it wasn't clear whether this agreement was still valid. Still, the UP, in particular the burgeoning social democrats in the party, the so-called Perestroikas, made every effort to hold the government to its word. After all, the party remained legal, even if its former armed wing was now on the offensive against the state again.

During this time, UP president Bernardo Jaramillo and other party leaders met with members of the cabinet, military officers, diplomats, and anyone else they thought could slow the pace of the killing. Everyone shook hands, nodded heads, and said the right things: The government promised more protection; the army declared it would crack down on human rights abusers; and the diplomats said they would consider sanctions. But nothing ever happened. The UP kept falling, and the monster that was the paramilitaries kept growing. To slow the killing, the UP finally decided, someone else besides the government would have to stop these drug-financed death squads.


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Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia


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