Monday, November 20, 2017

The Cynicism of Timochenko

FARC leader Timochenco, who created
millions of victims, is suddenly
concerned for them.
Timochenco, the ex-leader of the FARC guerrillas, and now presidential candidate of the FARC political party, apparently has a new mission: to fight for the rights of the victims of Colombia's armed conflict.

That's really interesting, since Timochenco, whose real name is Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, created innumerable victims himself as leader of the FARC guerrillas, who kidnapped, committed massacres, recruited children, forced women to have abortions and drove millions of peasants off of their land during their half-century of existence.

None of which, however, means that Timochenco's concerns are misplaced. In fact, the peace deal between the FARC and the government will mean widespread impunity for both soldiers and guerrillas, some of are eligible for political office despite being guilty of crimes against humanity. Timochenco, for his part, has been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for myriad crimes. Those sentences will be suspended, however, as long as he participates in the JEP, the transitory judicial structure created to try ex-guerrillas and soldiers. Meanwhile, Timochenco is running for president.

Another group who will get off with a slap on the wrist are ranchers and businessmen who financed
Creating victims: Residents of the town of Bojayá, Chocó
clean up the church destroyed by a FARC cylinder bomb
which killed about 100 people.
illegal armed groups such as the guerrillas and their paramilitary enemies. The payments are known as vacunas, or 'vaccinations,' and opinions are polarized over whether those who made such payments are victims or criminals. In many cases, those who refused to pay off the outlaw groups have been kidnapped or murdered or had their livestock stolen. But many allege that landowners and corporations paid off illegal groups which returned the favor by driving peasants off of land the wealthy desired.

Ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe also appears to have gotten off easy under the court's recent interpretation of the peace agreement. Uribe, who comes from a ranching family and whose father was murdered by the FARC, has been investigated multiple times for alleged links to right-wing death squads which flourished during his time in power. However, as an ex-president, he will enjoy immunity.

Yet, while it is certainly true that the conflict's victims will recieve short shrift, a successful peace process will hopefully reduce the number of victims created in the first place.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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