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Published On: Sat, Sep 30th, 2017

Colombia’s Democratic Center and Uribe demand referendum to end peace process

nsnbc  : Colombia’s Democratic Center party and ex-president Alvaro Uribe demand an end to the ongoing peace process between the demobilized FARC-EP, now active as legal, non-militant political party using the acronym FARC, and the Colombian State. The hawks within Colombia’s conservative oligarchy, the party and Uribe a calling for a new referendum to put an end to the peace process.

Ex-President Alvaro Uribe addressing anti-Santos and anti-peace protesters before the referendum in 2016. Now on the war path again. Courtesy Wikipedia)

Ex-President Alvaro Uribe addressing anti-Santos and anti-peace protesters before the referendum in 2016. Now on the war path again. Courtesy Wikipedia)

The political, economic and military circles around ex-president Alvaro Uribe and incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos are largely identical or overlapping. Most independent and objective analysts agree that the main difference between Uribe’s Hawks and Santos’ Doves is that Santos and allies – as well as the FARC leadership have realized that a continuation of the more than five decades-long civil war would have let to an economic disaster that would have threatened both left and right-wing oligarchical structures. War – in terms of business as usual – had become to costly for everybody.

However, Hawks within the Democratic Center and around Alvaro Uribe, the Uribe clan, and the Hawks within the conservative power structures of Colombia do apparently think otherwise. Their renewed push for ending the peace process may indeed be motivated by the fact that the FARC-EP has demobilized and disarmed, and that the leftist FARC – as non-armed political party, and its members are extremely vulnerable and lack arms and a credible guerrilla organization as deterrent.

The Democratic center – and Hawks – after announcing on Thursday that they will be calling for a referendum to end the peace process, have six months to collect at least 1.7 million signatures, representing 5% of the electorate. In October 2016, the Democratic Center-led campaign against the peace accords won the plebiscite with 6.4 million votes. In 2016 the Democratic Center party and associated networks led a coalition of conservative forces that barely but successfully took down the peace deal with the FARC-EP in a national plebiscite. Instead of repeating the plebiscite Santos chose to have a revised agreement approved by Congress.

This year Congress is closing in on a vote for a law to implement the Special Jurisdiction for Peace transitional justice courts, the Democratic Center party is collecting signatures for a national referendum to change the law and other fundamental aspects of the peace agreement made between the FARC and government in Havana. “We invite everyone to sign the referendum,” Democratic Center senator Paloma Valencia tweeted on September 28, to ensure that “these decisions [about the peace process] are not made in Havana by the FARC and corrupt government of [President Juan Manuel] Santos.” “This is an initiative to give Colombians back their confidence in institutions,” the senator said in a video posted to her Twitter account.

During the campaign leading up to the 2016 plebiscite, the Democratic Center party campaigned on a platform of  indignation over the fact that members of the FARC who committed war crimes may not see the inside of a jail cell while allegations about the involvement of leading party members in war crimes, were brushed off as politically motivated. The agreement reached between the FARC and government requires all actors involved in the conflict who committed explicitly specified serious crimes to confess their crimes, repair their victims, and guarantee non-repetition. If judges in the transitional justice courts find that actors fully and willingly complete those tasks, they may sentence perpetrators to alternative sanctions, which will not include jail time.

As the Democratic Center continues to reject the peace process, members of the FARC’s leadership have implied that Democratic Center politicians fear the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) because testimonies given to the new courts could reveal unsavory ties between politicians and paramilitary death squads, extrajudicial killings of civilians by the military, and widespread corruption.

Former guerrilla commander Rodrigo Londoño went on Twitter Thursday and wrote “People who oppose the JEP fear that the truth will come out. As the saying goes: He who owes nothing has nothing to fear. Everyone must respond.”

Pablo Catatumbo, another ex FARC-EP commander and member of the new FARC political party Tweeterd “The #JEP will have to guarantee that all actors involved in the conflict tell the truth and repair their victims. What do they have to fear?”

Uribe’s and the Democratic Center’s push to derail the peace process, combined with the fact that the FARC has been demobilized and disarmed, prompts FARC members, leftist political activists, grassroots activists, as well as rights organizations and independent observers and media to recall – with alarm – an earlier peace process that resulted in massacres of FARC members after the FARC – trusting the government – formed a legal, non-militant political party.

In 1985 the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party formed the Patriotic Union party as part of peace negotiations. The party was subject to political violence from drug lords, paramilitaries and security forces agents during the mid-1980s, leading to its eventual decline, virtual disappearance and extermination. After September 2002, the party no longer had formal and legal representative status as a political party and the FARC resumed its guerrilla war in an attempt to force the State to resume new peace talks. Needless to say that many fear – and others probably hope – that history will repeat itself.

A/N – nsnbc 30.09.2017

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