By Clara López Obregón, EL ESPECTADOR, April 25, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016, 904 people have been murdered: defenders and leaders of the causes they defend, land restitution, the campesino way of life, water, voluntary substitution of illegal plantings, human rights, and the defense of their land. Also murdered were 276 former FARC combatants, 253 of whom have submitted to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). The two phenomena demonstrate the incapacity of the authorities to guarantee the safety of the citizens in their lives, honor, property and rights, by those who have sworn to protect them.

With these statistics, the vacuum of a government created by a vacuum in democracy becomes evident. Every time we learn of a new murder of a social leader, the media cite official sources that blame the Clan del Golfo[1] or the dissidents, as if the Armed Forces had no obligation of any kind to avoid this. The Chancellor[2] even, in front of the United Nations Security Council, washed her hands of the systematic assassination of former combatants who have signed the Peace Agreement, and transferred the government’s responsibility to “the drug trafficking organizations and other illegal economies that are responsible for 80% of the murders.”

The social organizations, the victims, and the opposition demand effective action by a government that declares itself to be impotent. And the murders continue without a break, to the point that by now they don’t seem to upset the society. The deaths foretold have become normalized and the government appears apathetic.

Can a society that proclaims itself to be democratic accept the social hecatomb that is hiding behind the bulging and escalating statistics of murdered leaders? And what can be said about this non-compliance with the Peace Agreement when the massacre of former combatants is revealed, while the government claims, “we complied”?

It’s about two distinct events that are related, since in both cases the government sheds its responsibility for the illegal armed groups that it has been unable to control. Part of its inability to guarantee citizen security is because the government has been ambiguous about the ideologization of the extreme right, and about the cases of corruption in the interior of the Armed Forces. The other part is because of its failure to comply with the Peace Agreement in critical areas such as integrated rural development, voluntary substitution of illegal plantings, and the dismantling of the groups that have succeeded the paramilitaries, with the addition of some disaffected and dissidents of the insurgency.

Behind all of this there is a disrespect for democratic principles. In documents that were discovered after the Second World War, there were instructions to be followed with the German invasion of Poland. The documents ordered the decapitation of the Polish élite, reasoning that “it’s only possible to propel a nation into slavery when you destroy the upper echelons”.  In the municipalities that have been victimized, those upper echelons are the leaders of their most cherished causes, and they are now on the road to extermination. That is only possible when a vacuum of democracy consents to a vacuum of governance, in the full view of everybody.

[1] Clan del Golfo (Gulf Clan) is a gang of drug traffickers that includes former paramilitaries.

[2] The Chancellor heads the Foreign Ministry and is responsible for Colombia’s foreign affairs.

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