By Cecilia López Montaño, EL ESPECTADOR, March 5, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

With our faces showing our incredulity, we are experiencing something that we thought could never happen to us: a war that will have effects all over the world; without exception, effects that cannot yet be predicted. A globalized war, the details of which we are living through minute by minute; its pain, its cruelty, and with possibilities that we don’t want to see, and cannot even imagine. We have doubtless lived in suspense for at least a week. But while this is happening, there is a reality that is ours entirely: we are also at war. That’s to say, we have our very own war, once again. Last week, from Wednesday to Friday, with more recent data lacking, there were, according to the media, 107 cases that harmed civilians and caused damage to productive infrastructure, as a result of the armed strike by the ELN guerrillas.

The assessment is that of a war that in three days has caused the murder of a social leader, seven cases where communities were confined to their homes, ten vehicles incinerated, six actions that destroyed infrastructure, 18 acts of harassment, two ambushes, and one combat. If we isolate ourselves from the war in Ukraine, and concentrate on what is going on in this country, the conclusion is that we have returned to that stage we thought we had begun to overcome, but now with a different protagonist, the ELN. No less than 900 Colombians had to be afraid to go anywhere because the bus terminals were being attacked, and the roads are the flags of that guerrilla group; they use them to terrorize both the passengers and the bus drivers.

Let’s see, Mr. President Duque, you had three and a half years in power, with immense political strength, and with a people that has been very patient, too patient, to tell the truth. Former President Santos handed you a Peace Agreement with the FARC and, as experts in the subject are saying, opportunities with the ELN, but you decided to tear that Agreement to shreds, with the support of your party, headed by the former President Uribe, and with the support of those who were following his lead. You didn’t tear it to shreds completely, because you couldn’t, but you let the ELN expand and here you have the consequences. You neither made progress with the group nor fought it efficiently. The result: you let the ELN get out of hand. Listen good: you let the ELN get out of hand, and with that the country went back to war. Like it or not, you will be known in history for doing that.

In three and a half years, you ignored what it meant to make progress in the post-conflict, while sectors of the former FARC laid down their arms and entered politics. In your vast arrogance and your vanity, you underestimated the ELN. You didn’t listen to people who understood the situation, and who could have contributed by seeking negotiations. You scorned them without realizing that the country was going back to war. Mr. President, on the issue of the peace, not to mention other things, you lost three and a half years and the people of Colombia did not deserve that. That’s what history will say about you, because it is definitely true. Neither the current nor the future generations of Colombians will forgive you for it. That’s for sure.

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