A Trap in the Making: Uribe Convinces Santos of Undoing What Already Has Been Agreed on in Havana

By Carlos Aznarez on October 5, 2016

Uribe and SantosThere is no Peace or transition to it without social justice. This was repeated during five painful decades by the guerrilla forces of the FARC-EP and ELN, and they were right, otherwise there would not be an explanation to prolong the arm struggle for so long. Not even the Government, that constantly disregards the social demands of the most humble, can deny that the reasons which provoked the war remain in place and the consequences are right on the surface; tens of thousands of dead and missing, millions of persons displaced and thousands of political prisoners. The land remains in the hands of a few and the demands of the peasants and the workers are never heard or resolved by the government. And to this we add the countless crimes and death threats that have happened in recent months against popular leaders; from this we will have a clear picture of what peace each side is talking about.Peace cannot be a decree nor an abstraction. Peace, so many times invoked by those who permanently violated it from the State, should be on a solid foundation at the end of the causes that provoked 52 years ago a handful of Colombian fighters into taking up arms to end the integral injustice suffered by the majority of the Colombian population.

Because of all the reasons mentioned above, and because the FARC listened to the mandate of wide sectors of the population who were tired of violence, the group sat down at the negotiation table with the government of Juan Manuel Santos. With reasons based on the pressures of the bourgeoisie and the United States, needing to “pacify” (i.e. remove the guerrillas) to recover territories that are optimal for the attraction of more transnational investors, Santos and his friends embarked on a concept of peace that was a stretch for them to reach. They were the ones who precisely conducted the largest massacres of popular militants, that gave course to extermination plans designed by Washington and which did not hesitate to encourage economic strategies that allowed development and the extraction of natural resources. All of this was to finally get on the train of the Pacific Alliance to implement more free trade agreements. No, the Peace of Santos does not resemble the peace desired by the popular sectors. However for the Colombian government it was worth it to play the cards to find an end to the conflict.

Four years of moving forward and back in Havana, of furious discussions and reading of moderated press releases so that public opinion wouldn’t get discouraged, to show that it had been more than just a weak attempt. It was a negotiation table where all parties sat including all sectors of the Government, from those who practiced State terrorism to others who are part of the Colombian bourgeoisie who want to have “Peace” to continue doing good uninterrupted business. And finally after all of this an agreement was reached. Of course it was not what Marulanda and Jacobo Arenas dreamt about when they spoke about taking power, but this is what could be achieved in these circumstances of stalemate, so there would be neither winners nor losers.

Both sides made concessions, but the guerillas made a lot of effort while the government just made a lot of promises. It’s not a small thing for a political-military organization to make the decision of disarming and to take the political route. This is easier said than done, especially with the dark precedent of what happened to the Patriotic Union —it’s betting your own life for peace.

However, no one doubts that it is a choice full of future hazards taking into account the tricks from the other side, and also the existence of thousands of paramilitaries, and a large number of “legal” army uniformed ready to continue with their tactic of “selective elimination”. The cherry on top of the cake are the nine immovable American bases. Another real and disturbing piece of data is that one side agreed to disarm and the other continues to re-fuel its military power thanks to the contributions from the United States, Israel and the European Union.

After all the work that was done it came down to the controversial plebiscite. Something unnecessary in the present circumstances considering all of that which was discussed in Cuba was enough. Moreover, knowing that a good part of the population had been poisoned by the lying dialogue of the vote NO, to which Uribe Vélez had so much time to campaign for during the years that the Havana dialogue lasted. The YES campaign trusted that making the text of the agreements available was enough to convince anyone. But few actually read them. The publicity in favor of the NO vote was so radicaly vengeful that it brought to mind the worst moments of the “Cold War”, where the use of terms like “godless communism” and other apocalyptic threats were very effective. In Colombia, the NO supporters and their friends in the big media used Venezuela as an example of a “dangerous threat” and what they were at risk of becoming if the agreements were implemented and they even went so far as to compare Santos to Fidel Castro, Chávez and Timochenko.

With a massive abstention, which speaks about the lack of consciousness, and an ideological media bombardment that Colombian society faces, to win by one point with 18% of the votes means nothing, but it had the destabilizing effect that Uribe was looking for.

Santos, who was a loser on this occasion, had to quickly sit at the table with his former partner Uribe and his colleague Pastrana, and listen to their proposals. Moreover, Santos decided to change the tune that he had been singing in recent days and show to public opinion the implementation of a New National Agreement – returning to the lie of this being the way “to consolidate the Peace”.

At this stage of events, it is clear that the Machiavellian idea of the Santos-Uribe duo is trying to wrest from the FARC the essential aspects of what so far has been agreed upon. In other words to make a huge trap once they succeeded in having the guerrillas to come out above the surface, dangerously located and with a condition – by choice – of not returning to arms. Uribe has already said it out loud; if “that agreement full of concessions to the FARC” is not reviewed, they will disregard it completely.

Despite the fraternal advice given by international friends of the FARC who tried to get them to suspend the giving up of their arms, their maximum leader, Timoleón Jiménez, ratified its commitment for all that has been done so far and of course said that the whole leadership of the force is opposed to a modification of the agreements.

At this point, it’s necessary to trust that the strength of this decision will depend on the potency of mass mobilizations so that the bourgeoisie doesn’t ruin the peace process and turn it into a forced surrender of the guerrillas.  In addition to being a disastrous idea, it would lead the process to a new impasse. This would be hard to take, even for those that abstained from voting.


Source: Resumen Latinoamericano (Translated by North American Bureau)