NY Colombians Protest against Peace Process



Liliana Melo, right, rousing the demonstrators who protested the Colombian peace process. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Liliana Melo, right, rousing the demonstrators who protested the Colombian peace process. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Nearly 60 people gathered in front of the Consulate General of Colombia in New York to express their opposition to the peace process currently being negotiated in Cuba between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group. The protesters called President Juan Manuel Santos incompetent, a guerrillero ‒ member of the guerrillas ‒ and a thief, among other epithets.

“President Santos ought to step down because we do not want him to sell out the country and because we must regain peace,” shouted businessman and educator Zoilo Nieto. “Our country is being governed by criminals and they are turning it into another Cuba or Venezuela, and we cannot allow it. We Colombians are awesome; we don’t know how this Santos guy snuck up on us.”

Some people held up signs with messages against Santos and the peace process, as others waved the tricolored Colombian flag like soldiers at war. “I do not agree with what is happening in Cuba because the terrorist guerrillas are the ones making the rules,” said Juan Quintero, who held a sign reading: “I have reasons to say no.” 

Marlene Delgado shouted even louder and held back tears, saying: “Despicable Santos, step down now. You have family and children; you’d better change soon because you have no idea what may happen to you.”

At the consulate, organizers delivered a letter and a document signed by 112 people to express their opposition to the peace process. “Santos should step down,” shouted activist Liliana Melo while she filmed the demonstration with her phone and spoke to people in Colombia, where similar protests were held.

There was also music. René Mejía played his guitar and sang phrases such as: “Beloved Colombia, my country that never stops dreaming,” and “When will the war end?” Folk singer Pacho Vélez said: “President Santos has the country looking like a pigsty, and Congress members steal the money. I vote for Uribe because I am grateful and because Santos turned out crooked.”

Several people who spoke on the microphone during the event lauded former President Álvaro Uribe. His Centro Democrático ‒ Democratic Center ‒ party planned to hold a vigil against the peace process on April 2 at a park located on 83rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Singer-songwriter Martín Córdoba composed and sang a catchy tune in Spanish for the occasion. The chorus can be translated as: “Oh, dear, Santos and the FARC are sunbathing down in Cuba, and they are mocking everyone in Colombia.”

“The peace process is corrupted by the guerrilla, and they are being rewarded by being allowed to not pay for their crimes,” said Córdoba as he continued to play.

For his part, Jairo Jaimes said that Santos’ government is illegal because he is ruling alongside criminals and terrorists. “The biggest sicario [assassin] in Colombia is President Santos because he is murdering the country.”

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