BOGOTA – A mayoral candidate in the northern Colombian province of Sucre emerged uninjured from an assassination attempt thanks to the bulletproof vest he was wearing, his political party, the leftist Union Patriotica, said on Wednesday.
Hugo Sanchez, who is running for mayor of Palmitos, was shot twice in the chest but the bullets did not harm him due to the vest.
This is one of the measures that the National Protection Unit is providing to thousands of threatened candidates in Colombia ahead of the Oct. 25 provincial and municipal elections.
The UP said that Sanchez’s attackers “are the same people” who tried to wipe out the party in the late 1980s, when some 5,000 members of the Union Patriotica were exterminated by right-wing paramilitaries.
“The authorities know who finances them and who protects them. They know where they live,” UP chief Aida Avella said, adding that she saw no point in asking for an “exhaustive” investigation of the shooting, as such investigations “don’t exist in Colombia.”
“There are less than 700 armed men” in the vicinity of Sincelejo, capital of Sucre province, the UP said.
The Union Patriotica was founded in 1985 as the result of negotiations between the government of then-President Belisario Betancur and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas.
In its first elections, in 1986, the UP obtained more than 320,000 votes that allowed it to get into Congress and numerous municipal administrations, a situation that was the start of the persecution of the party and its members.
The UP disappeared in the early 1990s but returned to the Colombian political arena in mid-2013, when it regained its legal standing amid a peace process between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.