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Published On: Fri, Oct 6th, 2017

Uribe and Democratic Center could shoot down Colombia’s peace with the FARC

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : After Colombia’s Democratic Center party and ex-president Alvaro Uribe earlier this month called for e referendum to end the peace process, the party has now successfully pushed amendments to the transitional justice system through Congress and had them accepted by the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos – after Radical Change, the party of presidential candidate German Vargas, withdrew its support for the legislation it previously supported.

Dole Colombia_2017Congress – nationally and internationally known  as Colombia’s most corrupt institution – unilaterally changed the transitional justice system agreed between the FARC-EP (now FARC) and the State in 2016. The FARC warned that the amendment had inflicted a deep stab on the peace process. Controversially, the amendment singles out the FARC while it ignores the thousands of other civilians, military personnel, politicians, corporations and others who are covered by the transitional justice system.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was originally proposed by the country’s Prosecutor General. Chief Prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez, however, has been highly critical of the agreed transitional justice system, which includes a war crimes tribunal and a truth commission. Following negotiations between Martinez and representatives from both Congress and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, the pro-peace coalition in Congress agreed to changes.

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 fact that the administration agreed so easily to the amendments shows once again that Alvaro Uribe and Juan Manuel Santos and their respective political parties fundamentally represent two factions within Colombia’s right-wing oligarchical structures entrenched in politics, industry, finance, and not least the military. The primary difference between Uribe and Santos – and their respective parties – is that Uribe represents a faction that wants to win a decisive victory over leftist ex guerrilla and guerrilla, while Santos represents a faction that, like the FARC, has come to the conclusion that both the State, the guerrilla, the people, the economy, can no longer sustain the war that now has lasted 53 years.

Singling out the FARC and ignoring others subject to the transitional justice system, the changes clarify that FARC members who abandon the peace process or join dissident groups are stripped from the judicial benefits obtained through disarming. The prosecutor general also wanted tougher sanctions for FARC commanders who fail to report assets obtained illegally. No such sanctions are envisioned for right-wing Hawks, politicians, militaries, oligarchs or others who continue to maintain ties to right-wing allegedly non-political and barely criminal neo-paramilitaries like the AGC, and those within these circles who continue to peddle drugs. In other words, FARC members will have their demobilization benefits removed while the right-wingers with the “right connections” continue to be “the untouchable”.

The United States ambassador to Colombia recently claimed that the FARC continues to be active in drug trafficking. Neither the embassy nor the U.S. State Department provided any proof that could substantiate the claim. nsnbc international is, on the other hand, in possession of a CIA document from the 1990s in which members of the agency suggest that the FARC could launder its drug money in the USA and invest it there. An offer the FARC-EP declined with the comment they would rather invest their money in Colombia where it benefits the Colombian people. Although the FARC-EP and now he FARC have been widely positioned and denounced as one of Latin America’s biggest drug cartels it is largely a myth – propaganda. The FARC-EP’s primary involvement in drugs was the levying of a tax – in some cases about 10% – for drugs that were transported through FARC-EP controlled territories.

UN mission in Colombia and FARC discuss lack of security and safety for demobilized guerrilla.

UN mission in Colombia and FARC discuss lack of security and safety for demobilized guerrilla.

However, more important than this author’s remarks is the fact that the United nations, which is overseeing the Colombian peace process, could not verify the claim made by the U.S. Ambassador. The UN has, on the other hand, repeatedly warned the government there has been a “deficiency” in state compliance to the deal. Note also that the US State Department did not respond to nsnbc international when it was confronted with a copy of the above mentioned document and questions about the ambassador’s claims and whether they could be substantiated.

The FARC was furious at the “amendments” and the fact that Uribe, the Democratic Center party, with help from the Radical Change and German Vargas – or should one say Radical Turncoats – succeeded at undermining one of the most important elements of the peace accord that was signed 10 months ago. One must add, that Santos and his administration didn’t exactly put up a fight against the subversion of the transitional justice system; Some of the reasons have already been discussed above. Surprised? Not really, considering the track record of so many other Nobel peace laureates. The question whether the peace process can survive Colombia’s upcoming elections requires serious reflection. The question what action Colombia’s FARC, the ELN, and other leftist actors in the Colombian theater might have to take if Colombia’s Hawks succeed at shredding the peace process is also one that – arguably – has to be debated and one that may require more than debate.

CH/L – nsnbc 06.10.2017

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at nsnbc.wordpress@gmail.com

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