By Nemequene Tundama
[Nemequene Tundama is an anti-imperialist activist based in London, originally from Muisca Territory (Colombia), is the co-writer of We Are Not Latino which can be downloaded for free here, has organised history and political education classes for Nican Tlaca (Latinos) for the last 7 years.]
The 52 year old conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) came to an official end yesterday after they both agreed a deal that was negotiated over four years.
It has to be stated from the outset that there are many ordinary Colombians, within and without the guerrilla forces, that have given their lives, often their blood, with the hope that a deal of this type comes to fruition. Celebrating this peace agreement with the capitalist comprador government of Colombia may seem incomprehensible to some of us, yet, when we take into account that most Colombian families have been direct victims of the violence generated by this war, we will understand why many are hopeful that something positive can come out of this process.
Those who have studied the economic and political history of Colombia would know that a peace agreement between the FARC and the government is not going to bring actual peace to the population at large. This agreement alone cannot bring peace to Colombia because the existence of the parasitic structure of the economy, and the political elites that are its historical custodians, were not up for discussion at the negotiating table.
At best the peace agreement could bring an end to the skirmishes between military and guerrilla forces that often takes the lives of poor Colombians caught in the crossfire, or who have no option but to join either of those armed forces. Yet even this is doubtful since the second largest guerrilla group, National Liberation Army (ELN), has not been convinced by the government’s call for demobilisation.
The ELN’s distrust for the government’s call for ‘peace’ is not unfounded. It is not the first time that a peace agreement has been pursued by the government and it is not the first time that they have offered guerrilla groups a chance for demobilisation and participation in electoral politics. In the middle of the 1980s the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party formed the Union Patriotica, a political party, as part of peace negotiations with president Belisario Betancur. The outcome was the genocide of thousands of its members and two presidential candidates assassinated.
Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, derives from the political and economic elites of the country and has been implicated in the 2012 ‘False Positive’ cases in which thousands of young men were murdered by military personnel and passed of as guerrilla members killed in combat. It is safe to say that Santos’ motivation for a peace agreement, if we take his political record into account, is distinct from those Colombians who truly wish to transform the country and secure a peace that guarantees a dignified life for the majority of the population. There is also a smaller, but boisterous, section of the Colombian political elite, led by ultra-rightwing ex-president Alvaro Uribe, who are against this peace agreement as they maintain that the FARC, and the guerrilla in general, are terrorists who deserve to be killed or put in prison.
The final step of the process is a referendum in which the population will vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for the peace agreement between the government and the FARC. Ultimately, as in any other electoral process within the capitalist-imperialist system, the very essence of the violence against the people is not up for discussion. We are sensitive to the hope that the majority of Colombians have for an end to decades of extreme armed violence and due to that we support the ‘Yes’ vote. However, as the outstanding Colombian anti-capitalist-imperialist Camilo Torres would say; we will fight for peace until the last consequences.
It is also worth noting that the peace deal seems to contain little to nothing on justice for the millions of people who were forcibly displaced got their small-holdings and communal lands stolen by the paramilitary groups and sold off to wealthy landowners and multinational corporations. On the flip side, the complicity of international capital in this presents an important target for solidarity efforts by those of us outside of Colombia who wish to help local comrades.
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