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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 06:46 GMT 07:46 UK
Colombian women appeal for peace
Women protesters in central Bogota
There is little chance the warring factions will take notice

Thousands of women from across Colombia have protested in central Bogota against the 38-year civil conflict and to highlight the abuses suffered by women as the warring factions fight for control of the country.

Indigenous Indians in traditional dress, black women from the coast and women who had travelled from the guerrilla-dominated jungles of the south packed the capital's main square, Plaza Bolivar, on Thursday.

They were united in their call for an end to the fighting and, if that could not be achieved, for innocent civilians, particularly women and children, to be spared the violence that has gripped this country for nearly four decades.

Some women had their mouths taped to protest against the intimidation of Marxist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries who silence those who speak out against them.

Millions displaced

Others carried pictures of their loved ones murdered or kidnapped by the warring factions.

Women and children make up the vast majority of the two million people displaced by the fighting who now swell the slums of Colombia's major cities.

Alvaro Uribe
President-elect Alvaro Uribe has vowed a new crackdown on rebels

They are welcomed there only by squalor and unemployment as there is no social security net to catch them.

While the women's march has attracted the interest of the country, there is little chance that the warring factions will be paying any attention.

Indeed, in less than two weeks, Alvaro Uribe, a right-wing hardliner, takes over as president, with a vow to crack down on the warring factions.

Yet more violence is all that Colombia can expect in the near future.


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24 Jul 02 | Americas
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