Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK


World: Americas

Millions march for Colombia peace

Colombians unite to protest at the continued fighting

Organisers estimate that up to 13 million Colombians marched on Sunday to call for an immediate ceasefire in that country's 35-year-old civil conflict.


Correspondent Ruth Morris: "The most significant civil action in Colombian history"
Some two million people marched in the capital city of Bogota, while nearly a million more took the streets of Medellin.

Protesters waved Colombian flags and small paper flags bearing the simple slogan "No Mas".

The anti-war protest took place as long-awaited peace negotiations began in a rebel-held southern town.


[ image: A Colombian waves a small 'No Mas' flag in front of a banner]
A Colombian waves a small 'No Mas' flag in front of a banner
Marchers in 15 cities and dozens of towns turned out to demand a ceasefire, swift progress in peace talks and an end to violence against civilians - the principal victims in the war that has left more than 120,000 dead since 1964.

"We're fed up with all this violence. ... we want all the men of violence to cease armed actions against unarmed citizens," said Francisco Santos, one of the main organisers of the demonstrations.

Social worker Matilde Abril said she had to flee Casanare province because guerrillas, right-wing militias and common criminals had made life there too dangerous.

"We don't even go back there anymore ... not even on vacation."

Peace talks began

As protesters took to the streets, government and guerrilla negotiators from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) convened in Uribe - a small mountain town in the heart of the demilitarised zone - for their first talks since mid-July.


[ image: A FARC rebel guards the village where the peace talks are being held]
A FARC rebel guards the village where the peace talks are being held
The FARC, which has some 17,000 fighters nationwide, broke off talks in protest at President Andres Pastrana's demands that international monitors oversee talks.

While both sides boast that peace prospects are more promising than ever, they are also cautioning strongly against expectations of a quick resolution to the conflict.

Many Colombians are hoping the antiwar movement - unparalleled in the South American nation where peace activists have been systematically killed by extremists - will light a fire under the negotiators' feet.

Escalating violence

The protests come amid an escalation in violence that dampened much of the optimism generated by recent moves to forge peace.

Many Colombians were jolted out of apathy by a surge this year in guerrilla ransom kidnappings and the August assassination of comic and peace advocate Jaime Garzon.

Not all Colombians were moved.

"To end the violence, you need jobs and education. You can't change everything with a march," said car-wash employee Henry Pineda, working as the marchers passed by.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

25 Oct 99 | Americas
In pictures: Colombia's peace moves

11 Oct 99 | Americas
Peasants killed in Colombia massacre

28 Aug 99 | Americas
Colombia's black-and-white war

13 Aug 99 | Americas
Colombian comic assassinated

13 Jul 99 | Americas
'Hundreds' dead in Colombia

10 Jul 98 | Americas
Guerrillas' 40-year war





Internet Links


Colombian Government


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Violence greets Clinton visit

Bush outlines foreign policy

Boy held after US school shooting

Memorial for bonfire dead

Senate passes US budget

New constitution for Venezuela

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Hurricane Lenny abates

UN welcomes US paying dues

Chavez praises 'advanced' constitution

In pictures: Castro strikes out Chavez

WTO: arbitration in EU-Ecuador banana dispute

Colombian army chief says rebels defeated

Colombian president lambasts rebels