Hopes and challenges of peace in Colombia

Une femme tient une pancarte lors d'un rassemblement à Medellín le 25 septembre des

By Daniel Pécaut

The Colombian peace negotiations taking place in Cuba for three years just taken a decisive step. Important questions, starting with the land question had already been the subject of partial agreements but talks so far stumbled on the issue of judicial treatment which would subject the perpetrators of multiple crimes that marked the conflict.

The leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had constantly reiterated that they would not agree to a single day in prison. They did not agree not be the only ones punished: many members of the security forces and civilian leaders are guilty of atrocities by relying on paramilitary militias. He could not, however, be particularly matter impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity: the Treaty of Rome, of which Colombia is signatory, forbids.

The agreement signed on September 23. finally makes a clear path towards a political solution of the conflict. It provides for the establishment of a transitional justice system regarding all perpetrators. On condition of recognition of crimes and reparations to the victims, it allows the development of sentences. A historical truth commission should be set up simultaneously for three years to establish on the basis of testimonies of victims the statement of all the facts of violence. Whether a breakthrough, proves the fact that for the first time the signatories have agreed to reach a final agreement within six months.

A protean violence

But the record of this armed conflict is one of the worst recent violence in the world: in thirty years 220,000 deaths directly attributable to him five million displaced, tens of massacres, more than twenty thousand forced disappearances (more than Argentina or Chile) thirty thousand abductions, entire regions with terror.

If the paramilitaries and their allies bear the greatest responsibility, the guerrillas is heavy. The clashes are delivered by interposed Civil and these form the majority of victims. Yet this balance sheet does he state that those related to armed conflict itself.

The number of dead stands at 800 thousand if we add those awarded to an protean violence, particularly when they are directly or indirectly associated to drug trafficking. If this tragedy has no more international attention is that it escapes the simple explanations. She did not return to pre-existing cleavages, whether “ethnic”, religious or regional.

Terrorism drug traffickers

Without Colombia has probably one of the most marked levels of inequality in Latin America, particularly in the agricultural field. But if it initially played an important role in the emergence of armed struggle, the FARC effectively constituting a largely peasant guerrillas, the dynamics of violence is far summarize it: as as it s’ is extended, the multiple armed organizations have all resorted to terror to control the civilian population, raising shifting boundaries between neighbors and peers.

The boundaries between what is political and what is ownership economic resources, legal or not, or even the mere delinquency, have faded and the deterioration of the conflict became apparent. The paradox is that these phenomena were not permanently affected the institutional and economic stability. No doubt terrorism deployed by drug traffickers in the 1985-1995 years, he appeared at times as to stagger the institutions and corruption she has invaded them.

There is also undeniable that the regime has stepped exceptional devices and, especially during the two terms of President Alvaro Uribe from 2002 to 2008, left the field open to the paramilitary militias to fight alongside the security forces and the guerrillas his supposed supporters. The regime has nevertheless continued to avail himself of the rule of law and in any case has not turned into a strictly authoritarian state.

Moreover, Colombia has continued to be free of economic blunders if frequent in neighboring countries and has maintained a relatively constant growth rate and solid. In fact, the past moment of terrorism drug traffickers, violent phenomena have mainly affected the outskirts of the country. But it is now 80% urbanized and where cities welcome the millions of displaced people, the guerrillas never managed to implement it securely.

rightward the whole society

The reason that the FARC have concluded this agreement is probably due to their military weakness since 2008 but, even more, their political weakening due to their inability to rally the urban and the rural populations manifest weariness, including in areas controlled by the guerrillas for a long time. The rightward shift of the whole society is reflected by the reluctance of the rest of a large part of public opinion towards a solution that would provide the FARC a chance to convert into a political force and the importance of supporting Alvaro Uribe , opposing front to negotiation.

Patronage politics invades

The paradox mentioned above is actually deeper. In retrospect, it appears that the armed conflict had mainly resulted maintaining the status quo social and political or exacerbation of inequalities. Under the influence of the paramilitaries and their allies, the concentration of land has only intensify. During the past decades the protest movements have been deleted, the guerrillas did everything to exploit them and deny them any autonomy, paramilitaries and their allies systematically massacred their leaders. The political and economic stability of Colombia has no other secret. Here more than forty years of armed conflict puts the Colombian elites shielded from any social protest

Many challenges still waiting government. A guerrilla smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), still reluctant to negotiate. Falling commodity prices also affects the Colombian economy and will make it difficult to finance promised reforms. Drug trafficking and informal mining are thriving. The presence of the State in the peripheries is still more precarious, allowing various armed groups to impose their law. Patronage politics invades and takes place too often democratic legitimacy.

But perhaps we faced two significant challenges even more. The first is precisely to accustom the privileged sectors to finally accept the expression of social protest movements. The second is to transform representations that Colombians have of their history.

After all, in the 1950s, civil war had already ended with a record of 200 000 dead and sustainable disorganization Popular classes. Reconciliation of political elites had ended, but casting a veil of forgetfulness on their responsibilities. This silence is not unrelated to the fact that many Colombians have seen violence as inherent in their history and have deciphered the recent events such as the repetition of the earlier drama.

Pacification guess is developed another the nation’s vision and institutions. Only so traumatized memories they can become the bedrock of a shared historical narrative gradually. So important is the agreement with the guerrillas, without response to these challenges the phenomena of violence may still have a bright future ahead of them.

Daniel Pécaut is director studies at School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, in 2014 he was a member of the Historical Commission on the conflict and its victims made under the Havana negotiations.

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