Editorial, EL ESPECTADOR, October 30, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
For all the noise made by the promoters of the “NO” in the plebiscite for peace in 2016, because the agreements in Havana were going to surrender the country to the members of the FARC, the silence about that phantom after several elections in which the former combatants have participated is eloquent. Last Sunday’s results are one more demonstration of the two realities we have to keep in mind now that the Gustavo Petro administration is surfing the waves of a possible “total peace”. The first is that the Peace Agreement did not permit the FARC to take power. On the contrary, seven years later, the Commons Party has not been able to win popular support. The second is that it’s preferable to deal with differences democratically than by using violence.
In the recent elections, 144 signers of the Peace Agreement competed for public office, four of them for the office of mayor. One was elected Mayor of Caribo in Vichada, the largest municipality in the country, with 65,000 square kilometers (40 times the area of metropolitan Bogotá). This victory is symbolic because, in spite of the fact that it was one of the scenarios of FARC violence during the conflict, now the people who live there have elected a former combatant who has chosen the path of peace, Armel Caracas. As he is part of the Historic Pact Coalition, which was elected to the Presidency in 2022, that sends a message to all of those who took up arms that the way of democracy is the only answer. The Colombian government not only complied with its promise, but it’s common now to see the former combatants campaigning for office legally. If that’s not a triumph of the Agreement, we have the wrong priorities.
In fact, the problem continues to be the violence against the signers of the Peace Agreement. Plagued by the dissidents and by the drug trafficking groups, more than 400 former combatants have been murdered since 2016. Last Sunday, in the Municipality of San Antonio, Tolima Department, former combatant Cenober Aguiar Mayor was murdered, and Friday afternoon, Jaime Luis Díaz, a candidate for the municipal council in Chalan, Sucre Department, was also killed. What we need is a government that’s capable of protecting the people that chose peace and have done their part in this country. Tragedy cannot continue to be the norm, and still less if in the near future we expect to have new procedures for demobilization and re-insertion.
Let’s go back to the supposed idea of taking over the country, because the evidence is proving that this was a fear without any foundation. But still it continues to permeate the public debate about any attempt to make peace. From political leaders to worried citizens, we hear accusations that the peace procedures going forward are intended to create a “co-government”, to sabotage the Armed Forces, to sow chaos and make a joke of democracy. What we are seeing is completely the opposite. The country progresses when people lay down their arms and face each other at the polls. We applaud when we see that, contrary to apocalyptic prognostications, the Havana Agreement has served to show us the ex-FARC competing in the recent elections.