Why the people of Colombia rejected the flawed ‘peace’ plan concocted in Cuba

Jose Cardenas in National Review:

Why the Colombian People Rejected a Flawed ‘Peace’ Plan

Will the vote against President Manuel Santos’s FARC peace plan lead to renewed war?


Much as when Britons rebuffed the pleadings of international busybodies with their votes for Brexit, the Colombian people defied international expectations by voting to reject a “peace” plan with a narco-guerrilla conspiracy that has ravaged their country for five decades. The margin of victory was slim — less than a percentage point — but, coming after pre-referendum polls suggested an easy, double-digit win for the Yes camp, the result stunned proponents of the accord, leaving them dumbfounded and thrashing about.

Indeed, just as with Brexit, the irony of the Colombian peace deal is that it was always more popular abroad than it was at home, and, similarly, that hell hath no fury like international busybodies scorned. As a result of the vote, Colombians are being castigated for not knowing what is best for them, for the temerity of standing up for their perceived interests, and for rejecting “peace” in favor of “war.”

That is ridiculous. The Colombian people didn’t reject “peace”; they rejected a deal that they believed would never bring them genuine peace. Former Colombian minister and presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez put it best when she wrote prior to the vote,

It is evident that after 50 years of killings, massacres, kidnappings, recruitment of minors, terrorism, drug trafficking, and millions displaced, the Colombian people long for peace. We are all for peace, but not all are in favor of an agreement that, to end the conflict with the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, i.e., the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], weakens our institutions and the rule of law, and permits crimes against humanity to remain without adequate sentences and those responsible to enter politics, with risks for the future of our democracy.

Four years in the making, the peace plan was Colombian president Manuel Santos’s shot at political immortality, succeeding where his predecessors failed in pacifying a country that had known only violence and criminality for several generations. However, much like the Alec Guinness character in the World War II–epic Bridge on the River Kwai, President Santos, in his zeal to achieve his objective, lost touch with the political realities of his country.

At issue for the many Colombians was the particularly lenient terms agreed to as regards justice and accountability for FARC leaders. Those guilty of human-rights abuses or crimes against humanity could avoid jail time by simply admitting guilt and making restitution to victims. Those involved in lesser crimes such as drug trafficking would be included in a general amnesty.

As far as political participation, the deal would have guaranteed the FARC a minimum of five seats in the lower house of the Colombian congress and five in the senate for two legislative periods, with guarantees of government protection and access to media. The deal would also lay the financial burden of reintegrating FARC foot-soldiers on the Colombian taxpayer, even as the FARC leadership sits on billions of dollars in ill-gotten cash stashed away in foreign bank accounts.

Clearly, those provisions were a bridge too far for the Colombian people, who don’t see the FARC as misunderstood agrarian reformers, but, rather, as cold-blooded killers who have raped and pillaged their way across the Colombian landscape for decades. Under Santos’s peace plan, they saw the FARC as simply picking a new means to wage their war against the state.

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1 thought on “Why the people of Colombia rejected the flawed ‘peace’ plan concocted in Cuba”

  1. First of all, what victims do about the crimes committed against them and those responsible for the crimes is strictly up to the victims, period. Those who were not victimized have ZERO right to intrude on the matter, and it makes no difference what their intentions or pretensions may be–repeat, they have ZERO say in the matter. Of course, that won’t stop a lot of people from butting in, but presumptuousness is illegitimate by definition and should be ignored or rejected accordingly.

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