Colombia’s VP hears UN condemnation of attempt on her life

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Colombia’s vice-president on Wednesday listened to many members of the Security Council condemn the recent attempt against her life and then thanked the U.N.’s most powerful body for their solidary against violence in the country, which she said is aimed at undermining the new government’s efforts “for peace, social justice and the development and deepening of democracy.”

Francia Marquez said she was addressing the Security Council as “the daughter of an ancestral land, as the spokesperson of the Colombian people and representative of a government that has come to power to change the history of my country.”

The government, she said, will “confront violence, social injustice and structural inequalities” with policies “to make Colombia a global power of life.”

Marquez, the first Black vice-president of Colombia, was pressed by reporters afterward about the seven kilograms of explosives her security team found buried next to a rural road leading to her home in the southwestern province of Cauca, which she described as an assassination attempt. She wouldn’t speculate on who was responsible for planting the explosives and said the incident is in the hands of the attorney general.

The vice president, who has previously faced death threats, said the new assassination attempt won’t stop her advocacy for peace and equality.

She was elected last September along with President Gustavo Petro, an economist and former guerilla fighter, who is attempting to raise taxes on the wealthy, increase government spending and start peace talks with the nation’s remaining rebel groups.

“Armed violence has affected our entire society,” the vice-president told the council, saying 10 million people, a fifth of Colombia’s population, are “direct victims of war” and “in every household of our country there are wounds and scars from what happened.” She added that “the fears, the hatred, the revenge, have been transmitted from generation to generation.”

Marquez said the government is seeking to overcome “the fragmented peace” in the country and achieve “total peace,” which will enable it to reach historically excluded and marginalized territories.

The Colombian government signed a peace agreement in 2016 with the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia movement, and asked the U.N. to establish a political mission to focus on reintegrating leftist rebels into society after more than 50 years of war that caused over 220,000 deaths and displaced nearly 6 million people.

Last month, the government and its largest remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Army, said they would continue to hold peace talks in Mexico following three weeks of negotiations in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, that yielded only modest results.

Before the vice-president spoke, council members addressed the current situation in Colombia, many mentioning the threat against her.

Brazil’s U.N. Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho said his country strongly condemns “the unacceptable attempt” on the vice-president’s life and expresses “unshakeable trust that political extremism and attempts to block progress on policies of inclusion will not flourish on our continent.”

France’s deputy ambassador Nathalie Broadhurst also strongly condemned the attempt on her life. And Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Ishikane Kimihiro, the current council president, expressed “solidarity with the vice-president whose life came under threat.”

At the start of the council meeting, members unanimously adopted a resolution expanding the mandate of the U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia to include monitoring implementation of chapters in the peace agreement on rural reform and ethnic issues, a move vice-president Marquez called “clear testimony to the importance of this agreement for the world.”

She invited the Security Council to hold a meeting in Colombia “in order to express support for peace from our own territory” and to see firsthand some of the challenges the government is confronting.

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