By María Teresa Ronderos, EL ESPECTADOR, November 6, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
A recent meeting of La Confluencia (The Gathering), a platform of nearly a hundred men and women seeking to create a new voice with power for the accomplishment of the points in the 2016 Peace Agreement, was moving enough to bring tears. They want to make it really possible for the people that live in the places that suffered the most in the war to participate effectively—as the Agreement was originally designed—in the reconstruction of Colombia’s countryside, devastated by the war. So that those most affected by the violence can be the ones who watch over what is done to make them into holders of the government’s confidence, a government that has always regarded them with suspicion.
Two government officials were paying careful attention: Gloria Cuartas, who has taken over direction of the Unit for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement; and Raúl Delgado, who will revive the faltering Territory Renewal Agency (UIAF in Spanish). They were really listening; it wasn’t perfunctory. And when they spoke, they spoke as if in conversation with their colleagues from old struggles, repeating that the government includes everyone, that all have to work together on this most important task of making the Agreement a reality.
Several days later, President Petro held a meeting in the Presidential Palace with media managers, most of them part of the establishment, probably because they have shown him no mercy, even in his first hundred days. As reported by La Silla Vacía, the President showed the most excitement at the meeting when he talked about tracing the money being earned by illegal activity, and about the corruption that went along with the efforts of the Information and Analysis Unit (UIAF in Spanish) using prosecution and police intelligence.
This is another urgent matter that’s been missing in action for years which the new administration seems to be taking seriously, finally, and it appears to be doing something very much hand in hand with United States and European intelligence agencies. The foreign governments know that tracing the ill-gotten gains to catch up with organized crime that is the scourge of several regions of Colombia will be more effective than a thousand battalions of soldiers. And while the previous administration talked about security, meanwhile licking the boots of the generals, wasting their intelligence machinery to profile “enemy” justices and journalists, the new administration has to reconstruct it.
The two tasks are monumental, but they both focus on unraveling the Gordian knots where Colombia has been replicating its demons, time and time again.
Breaking with people’s ancestral mistrust also means letting them decide on the path to development, taking power away from the political class that for the most part represents only its own interests. That is the key to a lasting peace. It’s because of that connection that the administration is also working on elaboration of a National Development Plan from below, in spite of the methodological difficulties that implies.
The second purpose for leaving the mafias without their profits, whether from white-collar crime or blue label whisky, will stretch the budget to realize the dream of including the 40% of Colombians who still are not earning a decent living.
These objectives are the backbone of real change, difficult to accomplish. The Petro administration would do well to concentrate on achieving them, instead of trying to stir up everything.
It would also be helpful if the more comfortable groups that now are predicting the destruction of the economy, would try to make an effort of imagination, like the people with many fewer privileges and much more to lose, such as the leaders of La Confluencia. Imagine if the Petro team were to achieve greater tranquility in the countryside, and halt the flow of profits that the criminals have now, wouldn’t true prosperity break forth, with more national and foreign investment? Wouldn’t that make social and environmental improvement more sustainable? Isn’t that the country that all of us want?