|Pres. Santos announces preliminary talks with the FARC guerrillas.|
As the government and FARC leaders sit down to negotiate about negotiating peace, Colombia can't afford to depend on the guerrillas' 'good intentions' - not when they continue planting landmines, recruiting children and trafficking cocaine.
Rather, it should be made clear to the FARC that, by negotiating honestly and working toward real peace for Colombia, they will benefit themselves, as well.
Of course, the Colombian government can and surely will provide the FARC a way to save face ideologically thru new opportunities for the poor - in keeping with policies which Pres. Santos has implemented, anyway.
But the rest of the world should help by reaffirming its promises of assistance and support for Colombia. The FARC has been pushed to the negotiating table by the military's successful offensive. A decade ago, the group had 20,000 fighters and nearly had Bogotá surrounded. Colombia was close to being a failed state and the military had stepped aside in many regions, handing over its responsibilities to right-wing death squads, which committed wholesale human rights abuses, further undermining the government's legitimacy.
|Street art depicts a tic tac toe game using |
targets and rifles, in which 'Nobody wins.'
But the FARC have to feel sure that, if they reach a peace agreement, things will get better for both them and their country. They will be punished, but ultimately obtain some sort of political legitimacy and an opportunity to contribute to a better future for Colombia. But if they do not negotiate sincerely and pointlessly prolong the country's armed conflict, they will surely come out even worse for it.
But it may not be easy for Colombia, with its limited resources and great needs, to do that alone. That's why the world should make clear that, whatever happens, it will continue its support for Colombia.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours