Brief meeting with mayor who wishes to remain anonymous
It's a very difficult time for the country and the municipality especially because of the paras and massacres. Needing to move children out for their protection.
470 out of 1098 mayors in Caqueta, Cauca, Antiquoia, Narino and Putumayo have been threatened. Mayors and families are threatened. Solidarity is timely, especially help with getting mayors and their families out of the country, if necessary.
This mayor had just returned from a meeting with Uribe's Vice President elect, as a representative of the Cauca mayors. He remarked: In yesterday's conversation with Uribe's V-P, I questioned the government's desire for a peace process. The government seems to think there is no contrast between escalating the war and the peace process. Social organizations believe that international support is necessary to prevent an escalation. For the government to fail to pursue a real peace process puts the social orginizations in the position of feeling the need to align with one armed group for protection from another.
There was a meeting last week among mayors [on San Andreas?]. The conclusion was that the national government must call upon the armed actors to negotiate. Insofar as mayors represent the urban population which is 70% of the population, we should have a voice in a democracy. Conclusion: the most significant part of a peace process would have to be social investment rather than the arming of covilians to support the war. We mayors are unanimous that we must get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. We need international support that provides social investment rather than arms.
He suggested we might find a resistance to speaking to us in Cajibio, based in a fear of the armed groups. [we did not find this to be the case]
FARC's threat constitutes a demand that mayoral offices shut down their services. The objective is to force the government into dialogue, and we agree with the need for dialogue, but not with local government as the target and the leverage. There are 41 mayors in Cauca; 34 have received death threats. The unthreatened mayors exist in areas where armed actors are not strong. About 80% of Cauca is under the control of either armed actor -- and they are about equally strong.
No Cauca mayors killed.
2 killed in Caqueta.
Daughter of a mayor kidnapped; she was returned after he resigned.
there was a large brigade of mayors who resigned, but the national government would not accept their resignations. The majority of threatened mayors have resigned.
In Colombia, the war is carried out because of basic poverty. People are forced to enter into either armed group.
Point made in debrief: FARC's closing down of 470 mayoral offices is an attempt to flex their muscle on the municipal level, so as to show Uribe that he won't be able to escalate the war. But in shutting down municipalities, FARC is helping to implement IMF requests.
Ironically, FARC's achievement 15-20 years ago was the election of mayors, rather that their appointment by governors.