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Colombia - M-19 Movement

Last modified: 2021-08-26 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: colombia | m-19 movement |
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image by Ivan Sache, 10 December 1998

See also:


based on Encyclopaedia Universalis
image by Ivan Sache, 10 December 1998

based on photo at SEMANA Magazine
image by Eugene Ipavec and Ivan Sache, 28 August 2005

based on photo (see below)
image by Eugene Ipavec and Ivan Sache, 28 August 2005

image by Eugene Ipavec, 28 August 2005

Vertically divided blue/white/red, with M-19 in black in the white stripe.
Source: Photography of the funerals of the murdered past-leader of M-19 Carlos Pizarro, flag over the coffin. (Encyclopaedia Universalis, Yearbook 1991, p. 40).
Ivan Sache, 10 December 1998

According to  Courrier International #711, 17 June 2004, M19 is the 19 April Movement, founded on 19 April 1970, mostly by students. The M19 entered the armed struggle against the Columbian government in 1973. On 6 November 1985, the M19 seized the Court of Justice in Bogota. The seizure ended in a bloodbath when the tanks of the Columbian army attacked the Court. In 1989, the M19 abandoned the armed struggle and joined the political legal life. His leader was murdered when candidate to the Presidential election in 1990.
Ivan Sache, 27 December 2004

Here is a photo of Additional flag (variant with a logo showing a map of Colombia with the sword of Colombia's liberator Simon Bolivar and with the motto "Por el pueblo con las / armas al poder" (For the people with the / arms to power). Also here is a photo from SEMANA Magazine of a variant with different letter styles.
E.R., 23 March and 17 June 2005

Information taken from
"The 19th of April Movement (Movimiento 19 de Abril--M-19) traces its origins to the allegedly fraudulent presidential elections of April 19, 1970, in which the populist party of former military dictator Rojas Pinilla, the National Popular Alliance (Alianza Nacional Popular--Anapo), was denied an electoral victory (see Opposition to the National Front , ch. 1). Although Anapo--which was subsequently led by Rojas Pinilla's daughter, María Eugenia Rojas de Moreno Díaz, following the dictator's death in 1975--denied all links with the M-19, the organization proclaimed itself to be the armed branch of the party. During the early 1970s, Carlos Toledo Plata and Jaime Bateman Cayón distinguished themselves as the M-19's principal leaders and ideologues. Toledo, a physician, was an Anapo representative in Congress. Bateman served as the M-19's principal commander for military operations. Both these men died during the 1980s--Toledo in a shooting by two men believed linked to the MAS and Bateman in an airplane crash. By mid-1988 Carlos Pizarro León-Gómez had emerged as one of the group's principal decision makers.
The M-19's ideological orientation was a mixture of populism and nationalistic revolutionary socialism. This orientation often led the group to seek political support from Nicaragua and Cuba, but the M-19's leadership also claimed that it resisted forming permanent foreign ties.
By mid-1985, when the number of active members was estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000, the M-19 had become the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia. According to the IISS, the size of the M-19 in 1987 was estimated at 1,500 militants. A member of the Barco administration who was in charge of the government's peace efforts, however, calculated that the organization had only 500 armed militants nationwide. By the mid-1980s, the M-19 had eclipsed all other guerrilla organizations in urban operations. The M-19 reportedly established columns (units) in each of Colombia's major cities. These columns were in turn organized into independent cells.
Although the M-19's early operations, begun in 1972, were limited to bank robberies, it quickly gained national attention through the 1974 theft of Simón Bolívar's sword and spurs from the exhibit in the liberator's villa. Two years later, the group kidnapped and subsequently murdered a Colombian trade union official the M-19 accused of having ties to the United States Central Intelligence Agency. In 1977 the M-19 began a campaign of economic sabotage. The following year, government offices and police stations became the targets of numerous attacks. In addition, the offices and representatives of United States-based multinational corporations were repeatedly targeted in an effort to drive the foreign interests from the country. Kidnappings of prominent individuals continued, some of which resulted in the deaths of the abductees. In 1980 the seizure and occupation, for sixty-one days, of the Dominican Republic's Bogotá embassy gained the group international attention.
The M-19's increasingly bold activities, coupled with evidence of Cuban training and logistical support, prompted a hardening in the policies of the Turbay administration during its final year in office. In 1982, however, the newly installed Betancur administration offered political amnesty in exchange for the M-19's agreement to a cease-fire. In July 1984, government officials and guerrilla leaders signed a cease-fire agreement at Corinto in Cauca Department.
By late 1985, however, the accord unraveled. Charging the government with, among other things, a systematic violation of the truce provisions and failure to implement key political reforms that were part of the cease-fire agreement, the M-19 returned to armed struggle. In October 1985, guerrillas wounded then-Commanding General of the Army Samudio. By far the most spectacular operation of the M-19 came the following month, when commandos seized the Palace of Justice in Bogotá. The ensuing battle between the M-19 and the military left over 100 dead, including 11 Supreme Court judges (see Interest Groups , ch. 4).
After the Palace of Justice operation, the M-19 reduced its activities, leading some analysts to surmise that its membership base had declined. In early 1986, the M-19 reportedly attempted to establish a common guerrilla front with members of Peru's Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru) and with Ecuador's Alfaro Lives, Damn It! (¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!) group. The March 1987 killing of Alvaro Fayad, the M-19's top political and military strategist, was believed to have dealt the organization a severe setback, however.
In May 1988, the M-19 again burst into public prominence by kidnapping Alvaro Gómez Hurtado, a two-time presidential candidate and Conservative Party leader. Gómez Hurtado's release was obtained two months later in exchange for the government's agreement to meet with M-19 leaders at the papal nunciature in Bogotá. The meeting was to have paved the way for a national summit to include representatives of the country's principal guerrilla groups. Barco subsequently announced, however, that he would not send an official representative to the preliminary peace talks." (Data as of December 1988).
"Current Goals: The M-19 essentially ceased to exist in 1990. M-19, under intense pressure from the Colombian government's security forces, as well as right-leaning paramilitary groups, agreed to a ceasefire and shortly after laid down its arms permanently to become the Colombian political party, Democratic Alliance M-19. Predictably, some members rejected the cease fire, formed new terrorist groups, and continue to wreak violence and death throughout Colombia.
E.R., 8 May 2005

25th Anniversary Flag

[M19 Guerilla Movement (Colombia)] image by Randy Young, 10 March 2015

Yesterday was the official commemoration day for the 25th anniversary of the signing of the peace process with the M-19, with the main event being held at Bogotá held at Bolívar's Square.
Also, in Medellín, another event was held in whith a commemorative flag was seen, based on their former guerrilla flag with the inscription "POR LA PAZ SIEMPRE" (in English: "FOR PEACE ALWAYS") on white letters, on the top (blue) fringe. The same image can be seen here.
Source:  )
Images are cropped images from news report by Hora13Noticias local broadcasting tv news)
For additional information go to:
M-19 (semi official pages): and
Esteban Rivera, 10 March 2015

AD M-19 Movement

[M19 Guerilla Movement (Colombia)] image by Eugene Ipavec, 29 July 2007

Here is the flag of the former leftist group when it laid down arms. The group transformed into the AD M-19 (Alianza Democrática M-19, or Democratic Alliance M-19).
E.R., 23 March 2005

There's also a vertical banner variant of the ADM19, which is seen here.
Esteban Rivera, 10 March 2015