4 January 2008

Piedad Cordóba, Colombian Peacemaker

Piedad Cordóba is a rising star of the Latin American Left, propelled to attention for her uncompromising role alongside Hugo Chávez in trying to secure the release of hostages and taking on the bully of a President of her country, Colombia. For this, she says, her assassination has been ordered by a high functionary of the Colombian state. Piedad advocates the cause of the African descendants in Colombia and gays and lesbians. Even mainstream Colombian newspapers have had to nominate her as woman of the year or personality of the year.
El Espectador: All her political capital is at play including, it could be said, her own life. She has been brave, irreverent and stubborn. She spoke to President Uribe and he asked her to be facilitator for a humanitarian accord. She went to Chávez and convinced him to manage it. She went into the mountain to speak with Raúl Reyes, spokesman of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). She felt fear, grief, happiness and felt like crying. And though many would say she failed in her intent, thanks to her the theme of the kidnapped revived in the national and international scenario…

She committed errors. There are those who don’t pardon her the kiss of greeting with Reyes and much less posing with the guerrilla beret on her head and receiving flowers from the other subversive chief, Iván Márquez. Her extreme friendship and closeness with the Bolivarian cause… also was annoying. But Piedad Córdoba made the humanitarian accord her cause. One of the many that she has assumed along her journey as a social and political activist, in which at some moments destiny put her confronting her kidnap as well. It was in May 1999, when Carlos Castaño, then chief of the AUC (a right-wing death squad with close ties to the current establishment, including reportedly the President) kidnapped her in Medellín. During the days of captivity she felt the chill of death. Castaño accused her of belonging to the ELN (a left-wing guerrilla group) but never calculated that the country and the world would mobilise for her. He had to set her free and her position against the AUC has become more radical.

She has been threatened with death: she was in exile with her four children, Juan Luis, Natalia Maria, Camilo Andrés and César Augusto, she suffered attacks. And though many times she has felt discouraged, her fighting spirit has always inspired respect.

Piedad, the elder of nine siblings, always wanted to follow in the steps of her father, Sabulón Córdoba, a sociologist who was Dean of the faculty of sociology at the Bolivarian University of Medellín, and of her uncle, Diego Luis Córdoba, founder of the Chocó (department) and one of the great orators of the Liberal Party in the Senate towards the end of the Forties. At eight years of age, she was already marching together with civic organisations and of African descendants. She studied law and since then she forged fame as a rebel and nonconformist. Her first political steps brought her together with the disappeared Liberal activist, William Jaramillo Gómez. She was his general secretary in the municipality, sub-controller in Medellín, councillor, Deputy, representative in Chamber and Senator in 1996.

In political questions, there does not seem to be intermediate points with her. She is loved or loathed. And she is called La Negra, out of love or rancour. The humanitarian accord is her cause now.”

El Nuevo Siglo: Nobody can intimidate her, nobody can terrorise her. Kidnapped by the paramilitaries, persecuted by the extreme Right, hated by the elites who accuse her of being a guerrilla, lesbian and stateless (unpatriotic), Piedad has more than enough of courage and intelligence to confront and survive all these threats.

Piedad never gives up because people like her, born in the depths of the black communities, a natural leader, tempered in difficulties and made by the fights with no quarters given against inequality, nothing appears too big, nothing scares her, nothing defeats her.

El Espectador, December 14, 2007 Link:
El Nuevo Siglo, (problematic) Link:

Piedad Website (in Spanish)
Piedad photographs at Flickr

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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