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World Association of International Studies

Post Renewed Civil War in Colombia? What Happened to Diplomacy?
Created by John Eipper on 08/31/19 4:28 AM

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Renewed Civil War in Colombia? What Happened to Diplomacy? (Carmen Negrin, -France, 08/31/19 4:28 am)

Peace after so many years of war implies that both parties have to give up something.

Even before taking office, the current President Iván Duque announced he would cancel the present peace agreement. A similar political strategy comparable to Trump's with Iran and so many other decisions taken by his predecessor.

I personally think that it is a tragedy to go back to arms, but I also think that in the particular case of Colombia, as in the case if Iran, a President is responsible for respecting or not respecting the agreements, for eventually pursuing further negotiations to reach modifications deemed necessary. That is what diplomacy is all about.

Unfortunately today, the highest-ranking officials of too many countries seem to have forgotten that little word, which became so important after WWII. Even though it has not been fully effective, it has managed to help maintain quite a few countries in a situation of stability if not total peace for 75 years.

JE comments: Diplomacy in today's world is too often equated with weakness. Can anyone speculate on how we got to this point?  Political Science might provide few clues, but how about Psychology?  Freud and big sticks?

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  • Why the Peace Treaty with Colombia's FARC Was Flawed (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 09/02/19 4:59 AM)
    About renewed conflict in Colombia, Carmen Negrín (31 August) wrote that "both parties had to give up something," and that "in the particular case of Colombia, as in the case of Iran, a President is responsible for respecting or not respecting the agreements."

    I must comment on this view.

    First I agree in general that all parties in an armed conflict should be willing to give up demands and concessions, particularly when the parties involved are representative of democratic or legitimately established states, considered to be institutionally equal in their political representation.  But this is not the case with the guerrillas and the Colombian government.

    The "Marxist" guerrillas in Colombia have been, and apparently continue to be so, a delinquent and criminal group, responsible for thousands of innocent deaths, kidnappings, rapes and drug trafficking, on behalf of the "people's liberation." They have never been a legitimate or democratic representative of the people. The original mistake in the peace agreement was precisely that the Santos government agreed to deal with them as equals, giving them institutional recognition and, what it is worse, making excessive concessions, privileges and benefits.

    The peace agreement was unbalanced, to say the least, for many reasons. It contained terms that roughly guaranteed "narco-guerrilla" impunity, protecting them from the judicial system for supposedly criminal acts of war. It moreover set aside autonomous territories for ex-guerrilla members to live freely with pensions. It did not have provisions to control or reduce coca crops, nor did it have guarantees that the guerrillas would turn in all their weapons, or return the vast amounts of funds they had acquired from criminal activities. It also gave the guerrillas 20 seats in the Congress, and 16 other regional positions without being elected by democratic processes as they should have been, as well as media resources for their exclusive promotional political broadcasting, and so forth.

    The war left too many scars, hatred, resentment and bitterness among the population. Privileges obtained by that criminal group were rejected in the political referendum. Only the manipulation of president Santos got the treaty signed. Despite the many privileges obtained, the real reason for the guerrillas to renew the conflict has not been their claimed Marxist-populist ideology or the non-compliance of president Iván Duque, but their nostalgic hopes of recovering their criminal activities of drug trafficking and kidnapping. Ultimately they seek to regain the lost power exerted with violence.

    JE comments:  Santos did give away the store, but ending 52 years of war (I believe I have the number correct) requires radical measures.  Duque will likely unleash a hard hand/mano dura with the guerrillas, and the result will be a return to the old days of permanent violence.  I am reminded of Col. Aureliano Buendía's 32 civil wars (One Hundred Years of Solitude).

    Nacho, Venezuela has plenty of problems of its own, but are the people talking about the events in Colombia?  In particular, any material support for the revolutionaries from the Maduro government?

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    • Colombia's Peace Treaty and Drug Trafficking (Carmen Negrin, -France 09/02/19 3:56 PM)
      On one side of the Colombian conflict, you had the so-called Marxist guerrilleros, but on the government side you also had corruption and the very brutal paramilitares who worked hand in hand with the government authorities and have also benefited from the Santos Peace agreement.

      The fact is that Colombia is no longer the epicenter of drug trafficking. I would presume that the peace agreements might have had something to do with this change. Or not?

      JE comments: Colombia's cartels began to lose importance (or at least visibility) during the Uribe presidency (2002-2010). Apologists claim that his hard-line policies made the difference.  Others cite a cultural shift in which the flamboyant narcos of yesteryear (Escobar and his ilk) have been replaced by MBA types who keep a lower profile.  And perhaps most significantly, there was the rise of the Mexican cartels, which are more brutal than their Colombian predecessors.

      The peace treaty bought some uneasy peace, but it likely had little direct impact on the drug trade.

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