Colombia: The FARC negotiations
Two different views on the ongoing negotiations:
Peace Signs in Colombia
Can Bogotá and the FARC Finally Overcome Their Differences? which concludes with,
Polls published by the Colombia media indicate that the majority of Colombians support ending the conflict with the FARC by diplomatic means. Unfortunately, there has been little public discourse about the potential struggles that the nation will face if the FARC lay down their arms. Although Cuba and Venezuela have publicly expressed their support of Colombia’s peace efforts, regional tensions remain high, especially when it comes to relations with the United States. For now, then, even if a peace agreement is signed, it does not mean that peace will prevail.
The president is talking about a paradigm shift. “Many people are accustomed to the war but I don’t accept that,” he told me. “I think Colombia deserves to have peace and I am quite certain that we will achieve it.”
Part of his optimism stems from his conviction that the rebels “are weakened and they don’t have an alternative.” Actually they do have an alternative, which is to stay out in the jungle and die with their boots on. Still, Mr. Santos is the FARC guerrillas’ best hope for getting a deal that will offer them some leniency. Should he walk away or fail to win re-election in May, they are not likely to fare better under the next government.
Mr. Santos’s critics, including former president Alvaro Uribe, doubt the FARC’s good faith. As I reported in June, they also worry that the government will sacrifice justice for peace and will get neither.
As far as I can see,
- The FARC are not interested in disbanding. To the contrary, they are seeking alliances with the ELN
- The FARC are calling for a “restructuring of the Colombian state“, including a major redesign of the Colombian Constitution
- The FARC are not interested in ceasing its operations as a drug crime entity
- As the O’Grady article states, the FARC’s goal is “to force the government to designate the area an autonomous zone that it could control”
- And, inspired by their Cuban hosts, they are in it for the long run.
What kind of peace, then, could these negotiations yield?
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