Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why the Negotiations Have Stalled?

The new plutocrats? FARC negotiators relax on a yacht off of Cuba. 
All negotiators need incentives to advance, and the FARC-government talks in Havana, Cuba are no different.

For the government's part, a successful peace treaty by early next year would give a huge boost to Pres. Santos' reelection hopes, not to mention his place in history.

But the guerrillas' motivations are less clear. Their revolutionary cause - or what remains of it amidst terrorism, debauchery and narcotrafficking - is terribly weakened. But the FARC still earn millions from extortion, narcotrafficking, illicit mining and other illegal businesses.

Nicer than the jungle. FARC negotiators
in their Havana residence.
If the guerrillas sign a peace deal, they'll have one of three options: politics, prison, or the prospect of having to find (god forbid) regular jobs. And those are just the guerrilla leaders. The guerrilla foot soldiers will head back to their farms or receive some sort of cursory work training. Many could miss the good old days in the jungle, when they earned money simply by shouting revolutionary slogans and waving their guns in people's faces.

For the guerrillas' top leaders now negotiating in Havana, the contrast is even more dramatic, as shown in a photo distributed by Colombian ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe, who is a furious opponent of the peace talks. In the photo, two guerrilla negotiators and an unidentified woman companion relax puffing on cigars on a yacht off of the Cuban coast.

When they are not negotiating or on the yacht, the FARC representatives live in a mansion in the exclusive Habana neighborhood El Laguito.

Who'd want to leave that life for work, prison or politics?

It's easy to understand, then, why the guerrilla leaders would want to draw out the negotiations, whether productive or not, as long as possible.

Fellow FARC Rodrigo Granda called the yacht outing natural and a well-deserved break for hard-working negotiators.

But the scene looks fundamentally hypocritical, even Orwellianly so. Certainly, overtaxed negotiators have a right to relax. But you'd expect revolutionary leaders fighting for the proletariat to behave like the humble working class men and women whose rights they are supposedly defending, not the wealthy elite they want to overthrow. The guerrillas could have gone to the beach, visited a park, seen a movie, taken a walk, read a book...but to head straight from negotiating supposedly for Colombia's poor to a yacht party!

This isn't the FARC guerrilla leaders' only luxury. Among numerous examples, FARC leader Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, el Mono Jojoy, who was killed by the military three years ago, loved whiskey, expensive trucks and purebred horses. After Colombian bombs killed FARC 'foreign minister' Raul Reyes in his camp in Ecuador in 2008, Colombian soldiers found a fake Rolex watch on his wrist.

Meanwhile, the guerrillas continue driving peasants off of their land, recruiting children and committing innumerable other atrocities.

With their comfortable Havana lifestyle, the FARC negotiators seem to be living off the exploitation of the poor and downtrodden just as surely as do the capitalists they love to denounce.

*In fact, the negotiations weren't stalled. On Nov. 6, the two sides announced an agreement on political participation. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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