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Colombia peace talks, more of the same

posted by Adriaan Alsema
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Colombia peace talks

Colombia’s “peace talks” are destined to fail, because such negotiations are a repetition of similar attempts of the last 30 years and conditions are no different now than they were in the past.

Recent news about the possibility of peace talks between the government of President Santos and the FARC is being heralded as excellent news, because it offers Colombians the illusion of ending a conflict that has lasted for so long and has deprived so many generations of knowing the concept of peace.

However, it is nothing but really bad and tragic reality show (so common nowadays), with all parties distrusting each other, and everybody scheming to further ahead their own agenda.

The past six presidents have tried to negotiate peace without succeeding, and now Juan Manuel Santos wants to have a shot at it.

The players in the latest round of the same game

The past six presidents have tried to negotiate peace without succeeding, and now Juan Manuel Santos wants to have a shot at it.

In Santos, we have either an inept leader or a very good politician. As a defense minister under his predecessor Alvaro Uribe he showed boldness and determination to beat the guerrillas to a position of weakness.

But now as president, he wants to be so well liked by everybody that would do anything to have high approval ratings. He has made political coalitions and compromises with groups from all over the political spectrum resulting in him owing something to all political parties. Consequently has not been able to maintain the hard line proven so successful under Uribe.

It would appear that he is gearing up for a re-election bid in two years, needs something to prove his worth, gain the support of his political allies and avoid defeat in 2014 when the Colombian people get to have a say again.

On the other side of the peace talks table we have the FARC guerrillas, a terrorist group with delirious of grandeur. The guerrillas’ origins and ideology are founded on hate and revenge. Their founders are dead, and their new leadership has been so corrupt with drug money, that they cannot represent or remember what they are fighting for.

Additionally, the top leaders are on the run or out of reach from reality, resulting in the group being fragmented into several blocks and each block is doing its own thing.

Foremost, the FARC has become its very own worst enemy. The group’s claims to fight for the people, the very same people it preys upon, by recruiting minors (as young as 8 year olds); repeatedly and continually violating women’s rights; kidnapping civilians for ransom; the continuous use of land mines; blowing up oil pipelines and energy transmission towers; assassination attempts on elected officers; etc.

The guerrillas’ survival instinct has allowed them to last this long because they know that they can promise a lot of things and not deliver on them; their tactic is to delay and confuse and if the conditions are right, to create the illusion of negotiation. If the conditions are not right, they just wait it out until the next president is elected and continue on with the show while guerrilla commanders on all levels become rich of their criminal activities.

Deja-Vu

It was about 12 years ago, during the previous rounds of talks, that the Colombian government commission was pursuing FARC delegates all over Europe, even scoring an interview with the Pope, with no results, and rather an increase in terrorist acts.

Now that Oslo has been chosen, we could safely assume that it will be a repeat and the FARC are frustrating military advances by showing their humanitarian side. Just like the spectacles we have been accustomed since 2008 with the unilateral liberations of “the prisoners of war.” These peace talks are a military strategy by a terrorist group to gain time and international sympathizers, and a sad attempt by a shrewd politician who fears going into history as one of Colombia’s many failed presidents.

Many other Colombians but me are wary of these talks, for the actors involved can be considered pathological liars; there are no guarantees that there would be true justice for the countless victims; the terrorist group has not shown any signs of wanting real peace, and above all, it does not appear that anyone is willing to be held responsible and accountable for the crimes that have been committed so far.

If there’s hope for peace in Colombia, we should look at peace processes that have actually worked in the world. If we look closely, none of these involved the technique “forgive and forget”, which is what this process would bring to Colombia, and we all know how that has worked for us until now.

About the author

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Adriaan Alsema is the founder and editor-in-chief of Colombia Reports. Born and raised a Dutchman, Adriaan has been living in Colombia since 2008.

User Name: Adriaan Alsema

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