Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Can Opposites Meet?

On Monday, a woman reads a newspaper
headlining the NO vote.
Should FARC leaders do prison time for their crimes?

Should land be redistributed to landless farmers?

Should ex-FARC leaders guilty of serious crimes be eligible for public office?

Unless the FARC guerrillas and ex-Pres. Uribe's supporters can agree on these issues, a lasting peace deal appears impossible.

Sunday's vote, in which Colombians rejected the deal by a tiny margin and with high abstention, left Pres. Santos severely weakened, and ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe, who led the opposition to the deal, strengthened. Any new deal will have to satisfy the Uribistas. But Uribe made his reputation killing FARC guerrillas during his presidency from 2002 to 2010, and the FARC murdered his father. Uribe does not seem likely to compromise.
FARC leaders have said they won't return to war.

The FARC, on ther other hand, have insisted they are unwilling to go to prison, despite the
innumerable murders, kidnappings, recruitment of children and forced displacements they have committed. And Santos has also said this is not an option.

Uribe also comes from a family of landowners, who aren't likely to look kindly on others losing their land to campesinos, even tho Santos insists that owners' rights will be respected. Unequal distribution of land and resources has often been called the root cause of Colombia's conflicts, so leaving this unfixed might plunge Colombia into more conflict.

A demonstration Wednesday in favor of the peace agreement.
It's clear that FARC leaders' first priority in the negotiations was protecting their own freedom and comfort during the post-conflict period. Will they make concessions on those points at the behest of their sworn enemy? The FARC guerrillas have already vowed not to accept changes in the peace agreement.

Colombia's stability depends on whether these two enemies can find common ground - and quickly. Guerrilla leaders say they won't return to war. Nevertheless, while politicians talk, thousands of armed FARC guerrillas are sitting in jungle camps, growing frustrated and restless. What will they live off of, if they can no longer traffick drugs and extort ranchers?

Peace remains frustratingly far away.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

For the majority of people (you and I included) signing lyrical about the injustices of either side of the argument are already living in peace and it's no thanks to any peace deal.

Miguel said...

Lots of people in rural Colombia aren't living in peace, with or without the 'peace' deal.