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DATE=10/23/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=COLOMBIA MARCH (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255402 BYLINE=RHODA METCALFE DATELINE=BOGOTA INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Millions of Colombians are expected to march down the streets in the country's major cities today (Sunday) in protest against the violence and warfare that is ripping Colombia apart. As the protesters take to the street, peace talks between the government and the largest rebel group are also expected to resume after a three month-freeze in negotiations. Correspondent Rodha Metcalfe reports many Colobians are skeptical about the future of peace talks, but hope that a powerful public outcry will push forward negotiations. TEXT: Millions of Colombians are planning to getloud and pushy today. They are tired of being silent victims in a war where massacres and kidnappings are a daily event. Peace activist Rosa Emilia Salamanca hopes that the protest will put pressure on both government and the guerrillas to start making progress in the peace talks -that are expected to resume today (Sunday). /// Salamanca act #1 /// People are fed up with this war, because it is so crazy. We are saying that we demand you start serious negotiations. /// end act /// In recent months, there's been a series of smaller anti-violence marches,many of them protesting against kidnapping -- one of the rebel's most lucrative activities. The guerrillas have shrugged off these protests, calling them the rantings of the business elite, and not the common people. But Ms. Salamanca says Sunday's march will be different. She says rich and poor will march to protest all the war's violence, including disappearences and massacres. /// Salamanca act #2 /// We are trying to show that the peace movement is much bigger and has much more diversity inside. (We want) To make them realize that popular people don't want war anymore. ///End act /// Government and rebel negotiators are scheduled to meet today (Sunday) in a jungle region in easrtern Colombia to revive the peace talks that broke down three months ago when the guerrillas refused to accept international observers. The government's backed down on the proposal. The rebels are supposely fighting to improve life for the poor, but their military strenght has made them arrogant and they have refused to give an inch in the peace process so far. Political analyst Alvaro Camacho : /// Camacho act /// We have had so many frustrations with this process. I don't think people are optimistic. /// End act /// Since the peace process began early this year, the Colombian army has luanched successful strikes against the guerrillas. Public condidence in the army is growing, and fears that the rebels could one day take over is dwindling. But the rebels so far have proven immune to public opinion. Rally organizers hope Sunday's rally will begin to change that and slowly convince the rebels that their so-called revolutionary struggle is causing more grief than Colombians can bear. (Signed) NEB/PT 23-Oct-1999 18:38 PM EDT (23-Oct-1999 2238 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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