EL ESPECTADOR, March 4, 2023


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Without security and a powerful presence of the government there can be no “total peace”. The murder of Police 2d Lieutenant Ricardo Arley Monroy Prieto and the kidnapping of at least 79 Police Officers after protests in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá, show not only the extent of the influence of the illegal groups, but also the weakness of the government that did not know how to articulate the duties of the Armed Forces with its attempts at negotiation. In the national territory, we are seeing the emboldening of the criminals against the demoralized soldiers, to which must be added the open questions about the narcos that have been trying to line up in the procedures being pushed by the Gustavo Petro administration. If there is no change in priorities, the country can expect more tragedies like the one we saw this week.

Are we strengthening a scene of “total peace”, or is the government abandoning its functions and permitting the criminal associations to take over? That question, which at no time places in doubt the necessity of a decision for peace, or of the need for dialog in order to find peace, is the one that has taken up these months of the Petro Presidency. Without denying that the security policy of the Iván Duque was a failure and helped us to reach the crisis we’re in, since the arrival of Iván Velásquez as Minister of Defense, the news has continued to be awful. How is it possible that dozens of Police are ordered up without any planning and end up kidnapped for just doing their jobs in those demonstrations? And why does the administration look so weak in its response and in its capacity for negotiation?

There are a number of toads that the government has had to swallow for the “total peace”, and we still haven’t reached any  proposal for peace that we know of. To the recognition as a political negotiator of Iván Márquez, who betrayed what was agreed upon in Havana and decided to keep on killing and collaborating with the drug traffickers, is added this week’s scandal with President Petro’s family. We heard the rumors earlier about people close to the President’s Palace offering amnesties in exchange for money, without any authorization, and the petition for investigation of Juan Fernando Petro and Nicolás Petro for those activities, which the President himself called for, seems to confirm the worst suspicions. With all of that, it’s very difficult to build legitimacy into the peace processes for our citizens.

We have to get back to what’s essential: if the people aren’t safe, and if the government can’t guarantee their rights, the whole institution is weakened. The peace processes need a dose of the carrot and the stick, the power of the authorities added to incentives for the criminals to lay down their arms. Up to now, however, we have seen a lot of carrots and very few sticks. This adds up to a demoralized and confused Armed Forces. A formula for failure in meeting the government’s objectives.

We can’t underestimate the power that the groups outside the law have in Colombia. Nor the hopelessness they are capable of generating in the people, opening space for the radical speeches of the far-right warriors to inundate the public debate. The administration needs to correct its course and have a clearer and more efficient security policy. So that the tragedies don’t keep saturating the headlines.

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