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The problems of the Peace Agreement

The main problem that the peace agreement in Colombia has is the weakness of the state and the dominant class’s lack of goodwill.


Photo: Pixabay

Juan Diego García


The agreement should be a state commitment but given its enormous weakness almost everything depends on the political will of the government of the day.

Former president Juan Manuel Santos hardly did anything to push its observance forward and the current leader, Ivan Duque, a representative of the most extreme right, strives daily to bring about one of the mantras of his electoral campaign: to tear the agreement to shreds.

Those who favour peace today hope to overcome this obstacle by winning the upcoming elections in 2022 with a large enough majority to impose the reforms the country needs, first and foremost compliance with the peace agreement.

At the same time, the right is seeking to shore up its control of the government and maintain the current policy of formally respecting what has been agreed while effectively not complying with it and, in the best case scenario, completely ignoring what was agreed in Havana and taking the war to its ultimate consequences.

But the military solution is far from being a guarantee of the stability of the system since there is a very high level of popular discontent, a growing protagonism of urban settings (over 70% of the country’s population now lives in towns and cities) and tendencies in the international arena which do no not exactly favour the right.

Colombia fighting for peace. Photo by Leon Hernandez Flickr CC  Creative Commons License

The right could, however, opt for some minor reforms, thereby managing to reduce the social and political pressure.

The current neoliberal model allows those changes without putting the model’s central foundations at risk, but the problems are of such magnitude that it is very difficult to satisfy the popular demands which are not trivial.

For supporters of peace and reform, winning the elections in 2022 constitutes a big step forward, since it would be the first time in this country that a combined force of the left and the centre had achieved it.

Its challenges are not small, not only in ensuring the peace agreement is complied with but also in moving forward with the rest of the reforms that the country urgently needs in order to fully enter modernity and become an economic, political and social democracy, even in a limited way.

For a start, one only has to look through the central points of the Havana agreement to understand the strong reaction of the majorities in the heart of the dominant class and to weigh up the no lesser difficulties that a new government of the left and centre would have to resolve.

Tackling agrarian reform would involve finding a formula that harmonised the large modern properties of agribusiness, mining and infrastructure works, the extensive cattle raising of landowners and the genuinely peasant economy of small and medium farmers and livestock breeders.

Phto by Nathan Raia. The Prisma

It would be a question of finding a formula that included the new layer of peasants created by the agrarian reform.

It is a case of limiting the action of the large modern properties and of traditional landowners to make possible their coexistence with the peasantry (including the ethnic minorities fiercely opposed to land appropriation, large rural estates and above all to multinational companies).

If it doesn’t work, that formula would only be realistic if sectors of modern capitalism and large rural estates coexisted with the traditional ways and with small and medium properties.

But paramilitarism needs to be neutralised, counting on the firm commitment of the armed forces and the police since without it the economic sectors of the countryside that have created and fostered paramilitarism, and have benefited from it, cannot be disarmed.

The end of paramilitarism and a real commitment to peace by the military is the only guarantee to stem the daily massacre, the current extermination of social activists, opponents, defenders of human rights, ecologists and, above all, of former guerrillas who have given up their weapons.

Disarming the hardest sections of the right is also an indispensable pre-requisite for achieving reform of the political system, another of the key agreements.

Photo by Aniara. Flickr. Creative Common License

The political-electoral system in Colombia is rather primitive and alien to any modern democratic model.

It is known for certain that corruption, vote buying, intimidation and other similar methods ensure the traditional politicians control the state.

Furthermore, a system which, at best, has only had the support of half the electorate for at least the last half-a-century, has very little legitimacy.

Overcoming the systematic and permanent abstention of the electorate is a defining challenge in the pursuit of a modern, and above all democratic, political system.

Ceasing the so-called “war on drugs”, ending foreign intervention, promoting a mass catharsis so that the whole truth of the conflict is known, speeding up the process of reparations to victims and fostering a new culture of coexistence and civilised solution to conflicts will be an important part of the initiative between the left and the centre’s programme, starting with proper compliance with the Peace Agreement.

If this happens, it would be possible to think about the start of a process of profound change in the social order which would allow Colombia to overcome poverty, violence and backwardness. That is why it is so important to start by complying with what was agreed in Havana, among other reasons because it would make it much easier to do the same with the rest of the guerrillas that still exist.

(Translated by Philip Walker – Email: – Fotos: Pixabay

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