Comments, Globe, In Focus, Latin America

Peace in Colombia is called into question

All international organisations linked in some way to the peace process in Colombia agree that the chances of it being implemented is low (at the more optimistic end of the scale), if at all.

 

Juan Diego García

 

Their assessment is consistent with the conclusions reached by the majority of local organisations interested in the implementation of the agreements.

One of the key points of the Peace Agreement, which relates to land reform, significantly affects important sectors of the economy and the social order of the Andean country. For example, large multinational firms in the agriculture industry, mining or the construction of infrastructure, land grabbers, old and new landowners and extensive livestock farm owners who are  confronted by the campesino communities for control over the land, water and other resources in the region, not to mention the environmental impacts which put the farming economy as well as the health of the of the local population at serious risk.

The rejections of land reform by government and parliament are not in keeping with the efforts to improve the relevant laws nor do they seek to find a middle ground between the competing interests. They favour those, for obvious reasons, who oppose any such reform, however small, to the status quo in rural areas. The large majority of governments and parliaments simply align themselves with those who finance their electoral campaigns and in return favour them with their laws and decisions.

Photo: Commons Wikimedia

In such conditions it is highly unlikely that the authorities will carry out any reform, which leaves the affected rural communities with the only option of social mobilisation and protest and with an illusion of receiving support from the urban sectors.

It is widely known that the solemn agreements signed with the authorities will never be fulfilled, but with these fights defects in the system increase, its legitimacy diminishes (the little that remains) and better electoral prospects are opened up for the immediate future.

The view in respect of political reform is very much the same. If this must be regulated in parliament and at the initiative of other State powers, the process will be short because modernising and democratising the Colombian political system would seriously affect those that should be carrying out this task.

Its continuous sabotage should therefore be expected, with the traditional process of “obeying but not fulfilling” and the typical complexities associated with traditional politics that completely distort the best of intentions.

We can therefore expect very little or nothing from legislators who would be negatively affected by political reform and so yet again, the street, the square and the social quest for change in the balance of powers remain.

The current political system crisis (affected by profound corruption, mediocrity and violence) may itself bring about the removal of at least some of the power enjoyed today by the dominant classes.

Another of the agreements, to understand the truth about what happened, has broad prospects and may actually reveal how the war was never a campesino initiative but, on the contrary, an imposition by the same State and, above all, by certain elites of these dominant classes, of advanced large corporation sectors as well as their more traditional and backwards sector.

The option to take up arms is the result of violence against campesinos (legal and illegal), the destruction of the union movement and the criminal persecution of all opposition to the regime by intellectuals, teachers, academics, social activists (which have now become the primary victims of a new wave of violence) and opinion makers which are uncomfortable and incorruptible for the system.

The truth which will be revealed by the expert committee for the Memoria Histórica (the National Centre for Historical Memory) will be silenced and conveniently hidden by the media (which in its vast majority comprises supporters of the far right) and given that there will not be any legal consequences, it will be a sort of statement whose distribution will depend upon the efforts of the progressive forces and the left to make this truth known in education centres, academies and in their small media following.

The so-called “social networks” can play a decisive role in the distribution of the results of this committee, in fierce competition with the extreme right which is used more intensively.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) has already started its fairly limited journey because the right has succeeded in stopping the citizens involved from being brought before the courts, those who are responsible for and benefit from the violence: government leaders, politicians, landowners, civil servants and business people. This limits the JEP’s scope to the former guerrillas and militaries as the only ones that should answer for such crimes.

But still, it is highly likely that in the soldiers’ statements senior political and military officials will be implicated as will those citizens who promoted paramilitary and other forms of violence and come to be the greatest beneficiaries of land theft, the destruction of the union movement and the absolute control of political power in so many regions.

The challenge of those fighting for peace and democracy in Colombia is conveying all of these allegations to the largest sectors.  It is a necessary catharsis to build a sound country and a democratic system.

The moral and material redress for victims will never be satisfactory whilst the government is in the hands of the enemies of peace.

It is wishful thinking to think that the current State is going to affect the interests of the dominant classes to compensate, in some way, the millions of people who are victims of war.

In any event, there will be small and insignificant gestures, lying acts of contrition (like those carried out by extra-judicial killings or “false positives”) and pardons that are barely even mentioned in the media.

Photo Prensa Rural

There needs to be another government, different to the current one, that will carry out this moral and material reparation.

This is the challenge of those who fight for peace and democracy in the country: change the balance of powers within the State removing voter corruption, violence and traditional politics.

Widely mobilising opinion, even without relying upon sufficient media coverage, is only possible when the system collapses, when it completely loses its legitimacy and neither violence nor the cheating will allow the dominant classes to stay in government.

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: corrine.harries@ch-translations.com)

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