Colombia divided between peace and uncertain future

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On September 26th was signed the final peace agreement by the Government and the FARC. In order to finish the process, it will be subjected to the vote of Colombians in a plebiscite to be held on October 2nd. The voter will find a question for which there are only two possible options: Yes, or No. Drafted by the President Santos, the question reads: “Do you support the final agreement for the termination of the conflict and, building a stable and lasting peace?”. Any foreign observer must find incomprehensible if someone votes for the “No”, as if the voter was a war´ friend.

Behind are left 52 years of armed conflict, with a balance of more than 220,000 deaths and 8 million victims. Ahead is also the enormous challenge of the post-conflict, with the incorporation of the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla to the political life of Colombia. The South American country will need the assistance of the international community: The experts estimate at about 31,000 million dollars the cost for the next decade of post-conflict. The Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is convinced that, the peace reached with the main guerrilla group, will give a boost to the Colombian economy, “War is always pricier than peace,” he recently said in an interview with the BBC.

The former presidents Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana lead the campaign for the “No” in the referendum. They think the agreement will give impunity to the FARC. Uribe, whom current president Santos was Defence Minister in those hard years of offensive against the drug-guerrilla, has sent the following message to the international guests: “They are coming here to endorse an amnesty to drug traffickers and other heinous crimes.” Pastrana, who spent three years negotiating with the group then led by “Tirofijo”, he stated in a recent interview with the Spanish ABC, “The FARC will end as guerrilla, but will continue as a cartel”.

Another critical voice is the Human Rights Watch´s Director for Latin America, the Chilean José Miguel Vivanco, while welcoming the agreement as an “extraordinary opportunity “, has expressed “serious reservations about the justice´ piece of the peace process”. Vivanco, who had previously expressed criticism to some points of the peace agreement, asks Santos “the required legislation to implement the agreement, which establishes clearly that of war criminals and crimes against humanity cannot participate in politics or public office at least until they have complied with the punitive actions imposed by the Special Court for Peace “.

 Another voice expressing some scepticism is the Colombian Senate´ President, Mauricio Lizcano, who believes as necessary in order to achieve a real peace in the country, the FARC must necessarily to prove reconcilement with the rest of Colombia, just as the victims have forgiven. “Colombians first expect a great repentance by the FARC, and not only to specific cases. All Colombians were victims” said Lizcano in an interview in Cartagena with the Spanish news agency Efe.

What are the arguments of those who support the Peace process and the agreements reached? First is that of, “the price for the peace requires sacrifice the Justice.” If insisting on applying the justice as required by the laws, there would not be any agreement, any signature for peace in Cartagena. Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian President, opened the negotiations with FARC leaders four years ago having accepted from the beginning, that the guerrilleros should be protected from the punishment for being murderers or kidnappers. The FARC believe is that of their atrocities had a noble purpose. They would never have signed an agreement without placing them somewhere safe from the Justice. The dilemma is reduced to an even more succinct formulation: to forgive or not to forgive? Or as those campaigning for the “Not” keep insisting: “How are we to forgive such criminals?”. The answer is not forgiving them. The secret of peace is to swallow the bile and to live with them, or at least not succumbing to the animal impulse of killing them.

With regards to the arguments of those against, one of the points which generates more controversy is the FARC terrorist incorporation into the civil and political life. They are creating a political party which would arise when the UN envoys check-up about the authenticity of the disarmament. Through the agreement, the FARC have ensured their presence in the Legislative with at least five seats in each chamber, even if they have not reach the sufficient votes. In the peace talks it has been suspended the rule of law in Colombia. Furthermore, it has been created a temporary provisional justice which will guarantees very light sentences or impunity to the insurgents, and even will get economic means, to be able to join another lifestyle. Another controversial agreed point is the non-extradition of FARC members claimed for drug trafficking by the USA authorities.

The FARC would get by the authorities ten million hectares, where will create a “peasant, familiar and community´ economy” which the FARC will dominate economical, social and politically, those who never, not even now, have renounced their Marxist Leninist ideology. Their agrarian model has been copied from Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and China before becoming capitalist.

The agreement contains many more measures. The text signed contains nearly 300 pages, a kind of parallel legal text to the law, text that has been called supra-constitutional.

At all times during the talks was a final blackmail: if the agreement was not compliance with the FARC terms, they continue to kill, rape and drug trafficking, as they had done always before. The state, which represents 45 million Colombians, accepted the FARC humiliating conditions, who are just seven thousand guerrilleros.

My conclusion is that the laudable and admirable peace dream in Colombia might likely become a nightmare.

Nicaragua: family affairs

 

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On coming November, the Presidential Election will take place in the US. There is also Presidential Election in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua, a small Central American country of just 6.2 million people, has the second lowest per capita income in the region. There is few international news about Nicaragua, almost nothing heard since the time of the ´Contra´ development, years after the fall of Somoza’s brutal dictatorship, the cruel regime, when the so used name “our son of a bitch” was coined.

In 1985, José Daniel Ortega Saavedra (1945) took office.  He was member of one of the Nicaragua family’ sagas. Ortega studied at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, and became leader of the FSLN political party (Sandinista National Liberation Front), and served as president of Nicaragua during the period 1985-1990.

The Sandinista program, inspired by the Cuban system with some slight influence of European socialist parties, carried out a progressive policy with a total intervention of the state, and opposed to the free market. At that time everyone was leftist. The Nicaraguan revolution was almost a literary revolution:it was a noble aspiration: Redistributing the land, civil rights and culture in a poor country. These were still the Cold War times. The Nicaraguan pathway wished to be equidistant either from Washington and Moscow.

The political reforms started together with the cooperation with those then-Iron Curtain’ countries. The strong intervention of Nicaraguan citizens, those Sandinista regime’ opponents, made the US government supporting, funding and organizing the counterrevolution, the well-known ‘Contra’, which became a big scandal for the Reagan administration.

In 2006, Ortega returned to office. It was the time that of Chavista’ petrodollars, the fragmented opposition and major business agreements, the ideal conditions for perpetuation. The 2011’ election gave Ortega his third term, second in a row, both conditions which are not permitted and disqualifying, according to the Nicaraguan constitution.

From there on, began the real democratic regression: Reforms that gave broad power to the Executive to legislate; a large part of the media became under the ownership of the ruling party; the President took control of Justice’ administration, the Security agencies, the Election Authority and the Legislature. The recent withdrawal of 28 opposition’ MPs, leaving thousands of voters out of parliamentary representation, illustrates what the Ortega’ administration has become. As if that was not enough, Rosario Murillo, the President’s wife, is now the vice-presidential candidate. She had earlier been Spokesman and Foreign Affairs Minister, while several of their sons are Presidency ‘officers. The authoritarian nepotism guarantees the inbreeding concentration of power, and the perpetuation in office, of course.

Outside the country, the perpetuation in office of Daniel Ortega seems like is reporting more good than harm. For Washington, Beijing, Moscow or those potential investors from the Arab world, it is perfectly possible to do business with a government like the Sandinistas, which provides excellent conditions for foreign investment, ensuring the country ‘internal stability’ by providing a resource so scarce as necessary for the region: the rates of violence which are resembling that of many First World’ countries.

According to these, Ortega’s government together with an unknown albeit very powerful Chinese businessman, started to develop a mega project which will link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This Canal would be, according to scientists and environmental experts, an environmental disaster of apocalyptic proportions, which would leave thousands of Nicaraguans without their land, without food and it would be the end of the Great Lake of Nicaragua. It is the Panama Canal, but Nicaraguan. The same Chinese entrepreneur is selling large quantities of weaponry to Ortega’s administration, a fact which is worrying every day more and more to its neighbor citizens and authorities in the peaceful Costa Rica, the country which took the decision to stop with its Army long time ago.

Ortega is organizing a dynastic succession in Nicaragua,” was stated by the journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, editor of the online Nicaraguan weekly ‘El Confidencial’. He is also the Director for the Center for Communications Research, both based in Managua.

The history is repeating itself: the frequent cycle of the Latin American revolutionary leftist, romantic and morally self-sacrificing beginnings; then, the hypocrisy’ phase comes, followed by corruption, illegal enrichment and the quasi-dynastic despotism. An administration manner which is plundering the wealth of this poor country, robbing from within the very administration’ institutions; authoritarian, undemocratic, dynastic model, when the country is again run as a family hacienda. Poor Nicaragua!

 

Election is getting closer

 

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As the US Presidential election is getting closer, Trump’s proposals have sparked panic about what would happen to America if he wins the general election. It does not surprise me. These concerns are changing daily as Trump spouts an increasingly erratic and dangerous array of policy prescription.

The tycoon who pursues moving to the White House, has managed to focus the attention of all the media around his flamboyant figure. There is no place in the world where has been overlooked his frequent outbursts and outputs. Last July during a visit to the city of Laredo, Texas, where most of the population is of Mexican origin, the politician again defended his theory: “A wall would save us a lot of money, and will avoid the entering of drug traffickers, criminals and rapists to our country”.

The list of Trump’s misogynous comments is extensive, odd and varied. Such as some controversial statement in which he said he did not like the “fat sows and filthy animals“, which, in his own words, he referred to Rosie O’Donnell, known actress and presenter of a TV talk-show on social and gender affairs.

Following the attacks of gay club in Orlando, he has shown on favour about a racial labelling when assessing suspects: considering the physical appearance when stopping someone on the street, or make a body search on public transports. Furthermore, Trump confronted the family of a war’ fallen hero in Iraq; also he publicly suggested to Russia hacking on Hillary Clinton’s mail; he encouraged an armed rebellion against her; and not the least, he said that Obama was the Daesh’ founder. Additionally, he has spread rumours of electoral fraud among in the US population, months before the election.

Last week during an event at Miami, the mogul has made several controversial statements again, which many might understood as an incitement to violence against his Democratic opponent… “I think her bodyguards should lay down all the weapons… Let’s see what happens (to Hillary Clinton), OK? it will be very dangerous.”

 In the light of all these questionable and scandalous statements, there are more and more people who are thinking that his real intention was to finish second in the election, but taking advantage of his worldwide fame. Some  others think that his giant ego has brought him there, as the ‘New York Times’; and others talk even about self-sabotage of his own campaign. I don’t think so! With regards to all the above,  it has also been drawn attention his wife’ disappearance from the campaign for the past weeks, as something detrimental to the magnate.

But what is he lost? If Trump loses, neither he nor his followers will take it well. What Trump is doing, and has been doing all along, is pivoting Americans, mainly the US white working-class, toward his bigoted and paranoid worldview. These voters implicitly condone racism but through their support for Trump, are contributing to the mainstreaming of white supremacy.

Trump’s advisor, Roger Stone, proclaimed there will be a “bloodbath” the next day, if the election is “stolen.” These are merely some aspects of a Trump’ loss, but they all follow the same pattern, perhaps the main theme of the Trump phenomenon: the mainstreaming of extremism. Trump’s campaign has pulled the fringes to the centre, exposed weaknesses in the media and the two-party system, and exacerbated discontent. Whether he wins or loses, his campaign has already caused a profound and dangerous shift in American political culture. Come November, it may not officially be Trump’s America, but they will still have to live in it.

Why they hate us

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Since its creation, we have learned about Daesh and its brutal operations from its enemies (not the Islamic State, they are not a state, and that denomination is the one they wish) . Its story has largely been told by those fighting the group in Iraq and Syria, traumatized civilians who have escaped its brutal rule, and the occasional defectors. That is about to change.

The Daesh has released a magazine, Dabiq, its official propaganda ‘magazine’ which has set off rightly numerous alarms. The publication is dynamic, visual and professional, in which predominates the headlines. It is, from their point of view, an advantage when addressing its potential readers, the second or third generation´ European Muslims with little or any Arabic´ knowledge. The publication is published in several languages, predominating the English.

In its latest issue are extolled the recent attacks in Europe, arguing their hatred of the West:

1.-“We hate you, first and foremost, because you are unfaithful, because you reject the uniqueness of Allah“. The Islamic State says that the lack of faith is the primary reason for their attacks, since they have been “ordered” to fight against the unbelievers, until their submission to the authority of Islam.

2.-“We hate you because your secular and liberal societies, which allows many of the things that Allah has forbidden, something that you do not care because you separate religion and state, and thus you guarantee the supreme authority to your whims and desires, through your voted lawmakers”. The Islamic State seeks to topple the liberal democratic state and its liberal values, as well as the Christianity.

3.-“In the case of radical atheists, we hate and fight you because you do not believe in the existence of our Lord and Creator.” The atheists are considered even worse than the Christians, according to Wahhabi´ pure doctrine.

4.-“We hate for your crimes against Islam, and we are at war against you in order to punish you for your transgressions against our religion. While you keep burning the Koran and challenging the Shari’ah, we´ll strike back, not with slogans and banners, but with bullets, saws, knives and flamethrowers. ”

5.-“We hate for your crimes against Muslims, your drones and your bombings, for killing and maiming to our people all over the world, and your puppet´ governments in our Muslim usurped lands, which keeps torture, repress and fighting anyone who calls the Truth “.

6.-“We hate you for invading our land and we´ll fight to drive you out. While there is one centimeter of claiming territory, jihad will remain a personal obligation for every Muslim.” Here they are claiming almost half of Europe: The Balkans, Hungary, and Greece including Rumania, Spain and France to Toulouse; and India.

Daesh is particularly threatening against the gay community. In the aforementioned magazine are included brutal images of beheadings and public killings of people, who were accused in their own words of the “abominable crime of sodomy, the worst of perversions.”

Against the politically correct thinking of the West which “justifies” these actions as the revenge to the last war in Iraq, or Israel’s actions against its neighbors, and the West relativism of our own Christian heritage ´civilization, the US secretary of state, John Kerry has formally described the terrorist group´ atrocities as “genocide” against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria and in general to mankind.

What kind of people are those who behead men, murder with chainsaws and flamethrowers, and rape girls?. What kind of religion allows this?. I believe that these people have no faith. Whatever they say in their publication to justify their killings, rapes and beheadings, they do not believe in God or any religion.

Starting a new political year

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In September the school starts, and it is also the beginning of a new political course. This year is expected especially intense and exciting. I do not mean only the lack of Cabinet in Spain where we are even with a real chance to have new elections in December, the third in a row within a year, without having launched any of those necessary measures needed in Spain. It could be defined as pathetic and dangerous to the interests of the Spaniards. But with the kind of political leaders we have today,  and in particular the so histrionic and recalcitrant, the socialist Mr. Sanchez, this is the way it is.

It is an exciting political course indeed. In Europe and North America are coming important election processes with the real possibility that the populist formations rule in their respective countries, or at least, have the ability to reach major influence in their respective countries. In the domestic policy these cabinets must face some major economic, political and social challenges which are currently occupying the western policy, such as the consolidation of economic recovery; the preservation of the environment; or how to deal with the increasingly dangerous jihadist terrorist threat. Regarding the international relations, there are transcendental matters seeking a joint solution about the Middle East´ wars (Iraq, Syria), with their tragic ramifications on the refugees´ crisis in Europe; the management of those displaced by armed conflicts and the subsequent issues which are entailing the economic and social immigration.

In this upcoming political year, some major Western countries are going to face election´ processes of crucial importance and significance, which will not only affect their domestic issues, but will be influencing many events around the world. In these elections are formations which are representing very different political options: For the first time in decades, we are facing antagonistic political and social choices, with proposals to these great challenges which are radically opposed, and will be competing to seize the power in their respective nations.

The scenario is very different comparing of the past elections in Europe since the fall of the Berlin´ Wall: i.e. the election of an administration between a more or less liberal political option and a more or less social democratic. Or in the United States, with the choice between Republican or Democrat options, with their small and big differences. Today in Europe as in the US, are competing  new policy options which are demanding very dangerous and radical social changes in some cases,  which will affect many key issues that will shape the citizens´ future, our future.

The eccentric and histrionic Donald Trump, who has a main measure in his political program, the raising of a concrete wall all over the US- Mexico border. Trump recently visited the Aztec country (who invited him, anyway?). The visit was inopportune and ridiculous, both for him and for the current Mexican President Peña Nieto, to whom Trump humiliated as soon as he left Mexico, when heading to a political rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where again he said sarcastically “Mexicans still don´t know, but they will pay the wall. ” He has also been favorable to implement a racial labeling when assessing suspects. That is, to consider the appearance when stopping someone on the street or conduct a body search on public transport. Trump will struggle for the US presidency on coming November, against the controversial and not very beloved Hillary Clinton.

In France, the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen could reach the French presidency in the elections in April 2017. Marine Le Pen is deeply anti-European, and among many other populist measures, she proposes to withdraw France from the EU.

The Netherlands face parliamentary elections in March 2017. So far, it have not been published any polls, perhaps because of the so unflattering results, it seems like the populist far-right Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam, Democracy and Freedom party, is leading the election polls. Among the Wilders´ proposals, very focused on the issue of Islam in the Netherlands, are the closure of all Islamic schools and the Koran´ ban, all of these within a country with more than 10% of the population is Muslim, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin.

On coming October 2nd, Austria will hold a presidential election which the candidate Norbert Hofer, also ultra-right, is given by winner by all media. The very same day, the Hungarian cabinet has summoned a referendum in which offers its citizens to break away with the EU´ immigration policy.

And finally in Germany, Angela Merkel (CDU) will call the parliamentary elections which are likely to be in 2017 second half. Merkel is being increasingly questioned by her policy towards the refugees and the recent attacks´ issue in Germany. Merkel finds a far-right radical party on her right, the Alliance for Germany (AFD), which is reflecting the discontent and has emerged victorious in Merkel and CDU´ feuds such as, Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, in which she has suffered a serious setback.

As a result, it could be the year in which the extreme far-right seize power in some European countries. And the populism reaches the US administration. We must ask ourselves why these populist choices are attaining such popularity among the citizens. It seems that the history repeats itself and not just satisfactorily. The political issue is on fire and indeed it will be very interesting. I do not know if it is fascinating, but no doubts it is worrying and disturbing.

The scream of Venezuela

 

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The President of the European Parliament, the German Martin Schulz, said during a recent visit to Colombia, that democracy in Venezuela was at risk and “the events in Venezuela are dramatic and worrisome“. These statements without ceasing to be true, are actually an understatement to what is happening in the once prosperous South American state.

On the last September 1st´events, which will be recalled in the country´ History as the day that thousands of Venezuelans headed to the streets massively and peacefully, in order to demand a referendum´ date for the revocation from office of the President Nicolas Maduro. Among those who participated in this historic demonstration was Rosana Gonzalez, a retired 84-year-old woman, walking with a cane, who usually makes queues for food and commodities. She has lost about 15 kilograms’ weight due to the persistent crisis. “I never thought it would reach the end of my life with such privations. My five grandchildren are starving and need many things”.

But not only those who are inside Venezuela are suffering deprivations: those older people who headed to Spain to enjoy their retirement after working all their life in their country, are right now suffering the economic recession which has plunged the whole Venezuela. Around 3,800 retired Venezuelan residents in Spain, 60% of them former government Officials, have not been paid their pensions since 2015: For Maduro those living outside the country seem to be second-class citizens.

Why do people are protesting in Venezuela? Venezuela is a nation which is in a serious political, economic and social breakdown. Over the past 18 years, Chavez colonized the institutions that previously already had a parasitic nature. These were readapted, corrected and augmented, in order to fit the new regime´ needs. As a result, the Administration grew more than 50%. While oil prices remained sky-high, those commodities not produced inside, could be imported: means half of all goods consumed in the country. After the 2014 crisis, the Bolivarian “social policy” implemented price controls on many goods and services, which has only accelerated the domestic shortage and the lack thereof.

The Venezuelans scream against Chavism because it has made them poor. Certainly they not scream just for that reason, but also by the civil rights and political freedom´ curtailment, which they are suffering. But it is hard to imagine such a level of opposition to the regime if it is not accompanied by the penury. Venezuela cries out against Chavez, against the Bolivarian Nicolas Maduro and against their bourgeois oligarchs.

Nevertheless, the Chavism is ready to neutralize its opponents. Last days began a new wave of opposition leaders ´arrests. During the recent days, the Bolivarian´ security forces have arrested up to 25 political opponents. Nor wish the Chavism that the world is aware about the current events in Venezuela. Therefore, the Government of Maduro denied the entry into the country to three journalists from the international media: Radio Caracol of Colombia´ César Moreno, Marie-Eve Detoeuf, for the French Daily Le Monde, and American radio correspondent NRC´ John Otis, who also reported about the arrest of the Miami Herald journalist Jim Wyss.

I strongly believed it is the time for the rest of the world to scream firmly against Nicolas Maduro and against Chavism, which means poverty and tyranny. Socialism is penury and oppression.

Given the situation and the current events in Venezuela, the statement of Mr. Luis Almagro, President of the Organization of American States, OAS, was far more accurate. For Mr. Almagro, the latest developments in the Latin American country just confirmed “the end of democracy in Venezuela“. He stated that today Venezuela “is lacking of any fundamental freedom nor any civil or political right“, calling “a tyranny and politics intimidation ´regime” to Maduro´s Administration. Almagro has been much more precise and accurate on defining the facts.