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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.