“it’s as if time itself was running in circles and we had returned to the very beginning”
Gabriel García Márquez,
One Hundred Years of Solitude.
A few years ago we found ourselves electing a president with a direct order to seek peace in Colombia. Four years later, a failed process led the presidency into a war focused political project, where the negotiated route was unthinkable. Today, as a seed germinated by a bath of blood and tears of the many men and women who have died in this war, hope is reborn in the path of finding a political exit to the armed conflicts. This time we hope that history does not repeat itself in tragedies. The government and the FARC have a historic opportunity to end this prolonged war of over 60 years, confronting challenges for the new government period between 2014 and 2018.
Challenges for President Santos:
1) The end of negotiations with the Farc: It’s been approximately 18 months of negotiations between the Farc and the government and they’ve arrived at 3 agreements of the following 5 points: land politics and agrarian development, political participation by the Farc, and narco trafficking. Yet to be determined: the end of the conflict (ceasefire, reincorporation into civil society) and the rights of victims. If the process can arrive at an agreement, it will need to pass through Congress for referendum, despite its support of the peace process. During the presidential elections, it has been seen, that public opinion is polarized concerning the political participation of the Farc.
2) The Agriculture and Livestock Sector: The neoliberal economic model has been enforced, the agricultural sector has been heavily affected by the implementation of free trade agreements, affecting the economy of thousands of farmers who have organized and protested and paralyzed the country. Their resistance cannot be silenced. Attending to the demands of the agriculture and livestock sector of the country is an important challenge that the president should undertake.
Challenges for the Farc:
1) Respond to victims: The Farc should respond to victims for their actions. They cannot negate recognizing their responsibility in this war. If there are victims of the State and paramilitary groups, there also exist in those territories women, men and children who have suffered violence committed by members of the Farc. Truly beginning a process for victims is an important part of healing for those who have been violated.
2) Gain political credibility: The giving-up-of-arms, in order to have political participation, is a necessity, but not an easy assignment. First-of-all because it will be necessary to construct mechanisms of protection for those who choose to participate in politics; what occurred with the UP[i] cannot be repeated, and in second place, because civilians are polarized. There are many resentments towards the war, fighting with ideas is much more complex than using rifles; winning a place among the citizens as a political movement will be a great challenge.
3) Articulate a civil society to its militants: The giving up of arms and the incorporation into civil society of millions of combatants is a difficult process. Reinventing the lives of and redefining the identities of those in the military ranks is a painful process for those who gave their lives believing in a revolution; understanding that negotiating isn’t a failure, rather it is an opportunity to fight from other shores for a more just Colombia.
Challenges for the civil society:
Our challenge is to protect ourselves from the sickness of insomnia[ii] so as not to forget the names of things; taking care not to forget for example the violations of human rights not as a thing of yesterday, but as present every day. We are still dismembering people, threatening leaders, displacing famers, the paramilitary threat continues, the neoliberal economic model worsens social divides, the mining locomotor that today’s government instills infringes the rights of indigenous and African-descent communities ending lives. We need to remember that peace isn’t an agreement between the government and the Farc, peace is a commitment that we all take on by defending life and working for a country where social justice flows like a river.
[i] UP = Unión Patriótica o Patriotic Union. To understand more, read here. http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uni%C3%B3n_Patri%C3%B3tica_(Colombia)
[ii]Sickness that the habitants of Macondo suffered when insomnia rendered them unable to remember things; from the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.