Finally peace in Colombia is real option again

Guerrilla M19's commander Carlos Pizarro demobilized and was killed a few years after

Guerrilla M19’s commander Carlos Pizarro demobilized and was killed a few years after

Colombia will negotiate peace with its biggest guerrilla group FARC, and perhaps with the smaller ELN as well. It’s the most important news in years and it’s quite a big change compared to ex-president Álvaro Uribe’s policy of continuous attacking the guerrilla and trying to beat it the armed way. Many Colombians are glad because what they most want is peace, but others think it’s very inconvenient to negotiate with armed groups that are considered terrorists. The governments most fierce opponent is in fact ex-president Uribe. 

Nobody can deny the FARC suffered a very serious setback in their reputation from the nineties onwards, when they started to kidnap and extort the population after the support from the former communist countries in Europe and from Cuba stopped and when also the killings increased. When they also started to actively traffic cocaine, many people were convinced they were mere criminals and had lost every ideological orientation. And the Uribe government has done everything to strengthen this image.

Of course the FARC themselves are also to blame for their bad image. They didn’t show a genuine interest to stop war during the last peace talks (Caguan, 1999-2002) and the talks were interrupted when they kidnapped a plane. These last years they have increasedly turned to dirty war methods. They laid landmines and recruted child soldiers and kidnapped and killed at large scale.

But at the same time one cannot say that their fight for a juster Colombian society doesn’t make sense. Colombia is one of the most inequal countries in the world. Also in the nineties, Colombia had another big problem: the rise of the right wing paramilitaries that cooperated with the army. These two started their own dirty war against the guerrilla and against the political left. Many demobilized guerrillafighters in that period were killed. And the political party that was related to the guerrilla, the Patriotic Union, was practically extinguished. A couple of thousands of unionists were killed. That was not exactly an invitation for the FARC to stop violence.

After the Caguan peace talks  were interrupted because of the kidnapping of the airplane, people were fed up with the FARC and massively voted for Uribe, who promised to finish with them. He had quite a lot of success, in many areas the guerilla was weakened or even disappeared, but from 2008 onwards, reports started to be published that the war strategy of the government was losing force. The FARC understood that they weren’t able anymore to confront the army in combat and they changed their tactics to smaller terrorist assaults. It worked. The guerrilla can never win the war, but can never be beaten completely either.

President Juan Manuel Santos, successful Defense Minister in the Uribe government, and hawk like him, understood that. He decided that he should change policy, as had done his predecessor, but then the other way around. Without stopping however to fight the FARC. He also understood that he should end the cause of all the violence that has perturbed Colombia as long as it exists and that is inequality. Exactly at this point the government and the guerrillas can come to an agreement at a political level, without having to make Colombia a communist state as the FARC have always wanted. A socially just state is enough.

Many fear that the negotiations will fail, as the Caguan talks did. But here the Uribe era makes the difference. The FARC are a lot weaker now than in 1999. So instead of increasing his opposition and his furious tweets against the government, he should be a satisfied man because he helped the country progress and advance in the chance to really reach peace.

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2 Responses to “Finally peace in Colombia is real option again”

  1. Gladys Cantillo Says:

    I hope it works… real option begins with a change of heart.


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