Perhaps Liliany was Safer in Prison?

Liliany is now at home spending time reorganising her apartment, meeting her children’s old friends, who she is meeting for the first time, and catching up on three and a half missing years of her life.  Fortunately she can do all these things from her apartment, as it is not safe for her to venture outside.

During last week’s Colombia Behind Bars conference on political prisoners, which centered a lot on Liliany’s case, a death squad named the Black Eagles issued threats against all the participants including internationalists.  Now that Liliany, the most prominent political prisoner in Colombia, has been provisionally released, her and her family are now under great threat from right wing extremists like the Black Eagles.  Some folks have stepped up to offer support, such as the British ambassador, who had Liliany over for lunch and issued a letter to the Colombian government expressing his government’s concern for Liliany’s safety.

As well, my own Federal MP, Denise Savoie, organised a letter of support from the NDP to foreign affairs minister John Baird, urging the Canadian government to express to the Colombian government many Canadians’ concern over the safety of Liliany and her family.

Read the letter from Denise Savoie and the NDP to Minister John Baird.

In Latin America when a death squad wants to serve notice on someone, they get a right wing newspaper to print it for them, which is what has just happened to Liliany.  The major conservative paper, El Tiempo, has just printed a story, with a banner headline, claiming Liliany is a member of FARC.  This of course is a lie, as the government just spent over three years trying unsuccessfully to convict Liliany of this.  The Black Eagles want to do illegally what the government could not do legally, silence Liliany.

So now, although Liliany is technically free, she can not leave the apartment without several prominent supporters around her and her kids spend their time inside or in a secure guarded school bus.  So we spend a lot of time playing with the kids inside and watching TV, which has a regular rotation of bizarre advertisements praising the supposed good work of a Canadian oil company called Pacific Rubiales Energy.  This same company is in a vicious anti union battle with the oil workers union, with its leaders being attacked and jailed.  Yet another sad result of Canada’s Free Trade deal with Colombia.

We successfully got Liliany out of prison, but the struggle for union rights in Colombia continues, and she intends to be front and center in that struggle once again.

Unfortunately I have to leave Colombia tomorrow to fulfill a previous commitment to act as an election observer in El Salvador, which is a positive note to end on.  El Salvador, with the former FMLN guerillas now poised to take power, was, just a few years ago, in as sad a situation as Colombia is in now.  So change can happen if we all pull together as internationalists.

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