Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Are These People Worth Talking To?

A man examines destruction in a rural school, allegedly
destroyed by the FARC, in Caqueta. (Foto: El Tiempo)
Yesterday, the FARC guerrillas blew up a schoolhouse. A few days ago, they murdered several policemen, decapitating them. Before that, they violated their own self-declared Christmas truce.
I have one simple question about the ongoing negotiations with the FARC guerrillas: Can we trust these characters enough to talk to them?

We've long known that the FARC were vicious and unscrupulous. They've kidnapped children, murdered and displaced civilians and planted landmines. (I've talked to campesinos who've suffered all of these rights violations at the FARC's hands.)

In this cartoon from El Tiempo, a FARC leader exclaims:
'We left more than 60 children without their school?
We must provide those children with an alternative.
Recruit them!'

But, as El Tiempo columnist Salud Hernandez pointed out recently, the Colombian government isn't negotiating with the FARC because the government admires the guerrillas' economic ideas, human rights values or plans for agricultural development. The government is talking to the guerrillas for the same reason that a family talks to their father's kidnappers: the FARC are holding hostage Colombia's prospects for peace and economic development.

Still, bargaining with such a vicious group may be a necessary evil to end the armed conflict which has cost so much money and so many lives.

But if the guerrillas are so unprincipled (or have so little control over their own fronts) that they won't honor any agreement, then what's the point?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

This people are nothing, but a bunch of delinquents. I consider myself a leftist, but the FARC is a big joke, a cancer to my country.


Stuart Oswald said...

Yes, good article. But again instead of seeing their criminal acts as something intrinsic to the FARC, the perpetrators need to be simply seen as criminals. There's plenty of points argued by the FARC as a movement that are valid. Lets just say that had the Colombian government not been helped by the US at a critical time we'd be in a wonderful country much like Cuba, where people can live free of the capitalist enslavement. We'd have a wonderful healthcare with amazing state education and no prostitutes. Or Colombia could be unified with Venezuela giving us all so much more "social" justice. Yes, elements of the FARC are suspect for so many crimes but that doesn't devalue what they stand for. This post of yours is very biased.

Miguel said...

Hi Stuart,

Don't know where you're coming from. How intrinsic their crimes are to the FARC, the fact is that that they're a long way to being defeated. Which is why negotiating may be the least bad option.
, ,
Will they go from blowing up schools to being minister of education?
, ,

Stuart Oswald said...

I don't see why those in FARC (who haven't committed crimes) couldn't become ministers in a government.

The discussion needs to move on from FARC and paramilitaries and onto the crimes committed by individuals.

The issues need to be moved on from the fault lines created by both sides. A look at the Northern Ireland piece process started by Major as a shining example.

It's all a bit too sensational to keep talking about FARC.