Friday, October 7

The first steps of Petro’s ambitious plan to pacify Colombia

a drastic renovation of the military leadership and the start of negotiations in Havana with the guerrilla of Guevarist origin which operates in Colombia for almost six decades they set the pace of the first 10 days of the president Gustavo Petro. During his inauguration, he assured that future generations will remember the left-wing government as the government of “life” and “total peace.” To meet this objective, he has decided on a 180-degree change in policies that sought to address the problems of gun violencein all its variants, as well as the drug trafficking and the paramilitarism. It is, according to the portal the empty chair, an “ambitious” bet, but without guarantees of success. If Petro succeeds, “there would be an unprecedented peace scenario.” Otherwise, the horizon will be populated with “big risks“.

The president has not been slow to exercise his authority and has deputized both the Armed Forces and the police headquarters. Forty generals and admirals they have gone home and have paved the way to launch the program of “Human Security“, replacing the absolute predominance of rifles. The conditions to carry out such a reform have been favored by the disclosure of the conclusions of the Truth Commission about what happened during more than half a century of internal conflict. Not only the weight of the figures –450,000 dead between 1985 and 2018– of the final report have caused a strong impact on part of society. The commission of notables has remarked that all the instruments used over decades to confront the scourge have only aggravated it.

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gain momentum

Under the effect of this conclusion, Petro intends to fully implement the peace agreement that Juan Manuel Santos signed with the FARC in 2016 and that Ivan Duke, the outgoing president, disqualified with acts and words. At the same time, the Government will try to seat at the negotiating table the Gulf Clan, the main drug-trafficking and paramilitary group, whose power of fire and destruction was revealed months ago during an “armed strike” that was felt in 211 municipalities.

The first test of this new policy of the Colombian State will take place again in Cuba. There, the pact with the FARC, now converted into a political party, was conceived six years ago. Petro has just sent a commission to the island to advance in the resumption of talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN)suspended in 2019. “Cuba and Norway and other countries are fully willing to continue their valuable help in the pursuit of peace,” said the senator Ivan Cepeda, one of the representatives of the entourage. According to Cepeda, we must put an end to “the arrogant position that uncompromisingly sets conditions and preconditions for dialogue. We have been in that position for 60 years.” In this sense, he stressed that Colombia must “abandon as soon as possible the idea that peace is an ideological or partisan issue and not a national problem.” It is not alien to this roadmap to rebuild diplomatic ties with Venezuela.

Defense Minister Iván Velásquez did not rule out the possibility of a bilateral ceasefirean issue that at the time helped speed up the agreement with the FARC. Rodrigo Londoño, aka Timochenko, the last commander of that guerrilla, who had to sign the end of the conflict with Santos, made himself available to Petro to “facilitate” dialogue “and understanding” between the parties. “I welcome the exploratory meeting between the ELN delegation and the National Government…Without a doubt, it is an event of the greatest importance from which only positive things can emanate,” he said. At the moment it is unknown how an eventual attempt with the ex-FARC factions that did not join the 2016 agreement will be addressed. It is about 30 structures grouped into two large fronts.

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The score of peace

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Specialists believe that progress will not be immediate and that setbacks and clouds may arise on the road to the desired “total peace”. The Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva, tried to explain it in a musical key. To those who expect the negotiation process to develop like a “classical music score”, Leyva recommended that they think of it better as a piece of jazz. While in the first the interpreter submits to a writing that does not usually admit deviations everything has been codified, jazz is open to unforeseen events in which the musician improvises with imagination to find the best results.

social responsibility

Colombians, estimates Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of the recent book peace disagreements, they cannot be spectators of this complex process. “We live in a society that suffers from a serious disconnection with his own past. The difficulty of dialogue that we have now also comes from that: it is very difficult to dialogue with those who do not know the story, with those who understand it only through the version that has reached them in memes, in tweets, in YouTube videos.

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