Colombia’s “Peace Process” about to turn into Oslo-Accords-Like Farce
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Colombia’s “peace process” is at risk as President Juan Manuel Santos declared an end to the State’s side of the bilateral ceasefire with the FARC-EP and the FARC ordered guerrilla to retake positions and to stay put. FARC fighters and people in FARC controlled areas are at high risk of attacks from right-wing paramilitaries, and eventually the military too. The second-largest leftist guerrilla, the ELN, has resumed attacks on oil installations. US Secretary of State John Kerry sends an “envoy” to Cuba to discuss the situation in Colombia.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, on Tuesday, announced that his administration will end its commitment to the bilateral ceasefire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on October 31. The announcement came after a referendum on Sunday resulted in a narrow, and statistically questionable victory of the “No” campaign that rejected the peace accord between the State and the FARC-EP.
The “No” to the peace accord being problematic enough as it is, the announcement that the State ends its part of the ceasefire with the FARC-EP can lead to the conclusion that the Colombian “peace process” emulates the tragic outcome of the also Norwegian-sponsored “Oslo Accords” between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that has led to decades of “peace process without peace” and the death of thousands of Palestinians and the unabated continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and settlement expansions.
FARC-EP leader Rodrigo Londono, a.k.a. “Timochenko” responded to Santos’ announcement asking “And from then on the war continues?”. FARC-EP front commander “Pastor Alape”, for his part, tweeted “all units must move towards secure positions and avoid provocations”. The order puts a de-facto end to the FARC-EP’s demobilization and disarmament that already had begun. The situation potentially puts at extreme risk, those FARC-EP fighters who already had gathered in military, police and UN controlled “concentration camps”.
The development also underpins fears expressed by Colombian and international rights organizations who repeatedly stressed that failures in the peace process could put tens of thousands of civilians and FARC guerrilla at extreme risk. That is, the risk of abuse from the side of military and police that already was allowed to enter traditionally FARC-EP controlled areas; And at risk to attacks from right-wing neo-paramilitaries like the AGC a.k.a. Los Urabenos, an organization to which Santiago Uribe, the brother of ex-president Alvaro Uribe who led the “No” campaign has close ties. Ironically, Uribe now urges everybody to have “patience” while he announced that he was willing to consider his participation in a “peace commission”.
The AGC officially announced that it was interested in joining the peace process, while it continued assaults in FARC-EP controlled areas, although there was a break during the referendum. Critics of the AGC stress that the organization was more interested in enjoying leniency during the transitional justice process that was part of the now defunct peace accord than in ending its criminal activities, including drug trafficking, assassinations and kidnappings.
Colombia’s second-largest leftist guerrilla, the National Liberation Army (ELN) responded to the announcement of the end of the bilateral ceasefire by ending its self-imposed ceasefire it had declared as a show of goodwill with regard to the peace process and hoping that the administration of Juan Manuel Santos finally would start official peace talks with the ELN, as promised. In March the State and the ELN signed a binding agreement according to which official peace talks should begin in May 2016. The Santos administration has since then stalled the process by adding additional demands which were not part of the signed agreement.
On Tuesday the ELN reportedly attacked the country’s second largest oil pipeline. The Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline transports crude oil from the northeastern province of Arauca along the border with Venezuela and the Magdalena valley towards the Caribbean coast.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State dispatched a special envoy to the Cuban capital Havana, to, as the State Department states, assist in crisis negotiations following the rejection of the peace accord on Sunday. President Juan Manuel Santos, for his part, announced that Kerry had called him to reiterate the Obama administration’s support for the peace process in spite of the crisis spurred by Colombian voters’ rejection of it. The question pertaining the US role in the Colombian discourse will be whether it will be comparable to the role it played in brokering the Oslo Accords, that is, the abject failure to help broker an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. As it appears now, the “Colombian Peace Process” could very well develop into an Oslo Accord-like FARCe.
CH/L – nsnbc 05.10.2016