Peace in Colombia should mean land reform and an end to hunger
Since the end of April, the streets of Colombia have been felt tear gas. The government of Colombian President Iván Duque has imposed Strategies which are weighing the costs of the pandemic on the working class and the peasantry and tried at to choke any progress made in the Havana peace accords of 2016. Discontent led to street protests, which were harshly suppressed by the government. These protests, Rodrigo Granda of the Colombian communes told us in an interview, “are defined by the broad participation of young people, women, artists, religious, indigenous, Afro-Colombians, unions and organizations from poor neighborhoods and the working class. Almost all of Colombia is part of the struggle. A range of concrete requests defines contestation: running water and schools, dismantling riot police (ESMAD) and expanding democratic possibilities.
The Comunes party was formed in 2017 by members of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army). Granda, who is known internationally for his former role as FARC foreign minister, is now a member of the national board of the Communes Party. As a legal political party, the Commons are a direct product of the 2016 Havana Peace Accords signed by the Colombian government and the FARC. Over the past two years, members of the Comunes have taken to the streets alongside their Colombian compatriots who are fighting to bring democracy to the country’s economy and politics. Granda told us about the ongoing protests and helped place these protests in the context of the long history of the struggle in Colombia.
Colombia’s violent oligarchy
Current protests remind Granda of the 1977 national civic movement hit in which he participated, with a difference: then, he says, there was “no international solidarity”, whereas today the global media attention on Colombia’s struggle allows the people of his country ” not to lose heart ”during a difficult fight. The 1977 strike was born out of a long struggle against the country’s oligarchy.
Years before the strike, Granda looked forward to the Colombian elections in April 1970. He hoped that former President and General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla of the National Popular Alliance (ANAPO) would win. Rojas Pinilla was not on the left, but he offered the country a way out of the grip of the Colombian oligarchy. Young people like Granda hoped that an ANAPO victory in Colombia and then later that year Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity victory in Chile would help change the character of South American politics. But Rojas Pinilla’s victory was intertwined with fraud, and while Allende won the election, he was kicked out of Power in 1973 during a coup. Looking back over 50 years, Granda told us that he feels an “internal frustration” with that election stolen in 1970 and the torturous path his country has had to take since then.
The struggle has been difficult because the ruling bloc in Colombia, including Duque, is unwilling to participate honestly in a democratic program. None of the major political parties that have controlled the state since 1948 have wanted any change. The stifling of politics since then and the routine assassination of political leaders have pushed the left – through the FARC and other groups – into armed struggle in 1964. The FARC regularly called on the ruling bloc to open negotiations, but without much success. However, talks with President Belisario Betancur in 1982 paved the way for La Uribe Agreement, which resulted in a ceasefire from 1984 to 1987. Members of the FARC joined others on the left in create Union Patriótica (UP) as a legal political party. The UP’s attempts to push forward a reform agenda have been accompanied by a policy of state assassinations against the left. No real liberal sentiment reigns in the Colombian ruling bloc, which refuses to share even a minimum of power with other groups.
The situation deteriorated under President Andrés Pastrana – who was in power from 1998 to 2002 – and US President Bill Clinton, both of whom sign Plan Colombia, which turned out to be the start of a policy to define the FARC as “narco-terroristsAnd wage a war of extermination against the rebels. It was also Pastrana’s father who stole the 1970 election from Rojas Pinilla. Brutality characterized the Colombian state’s approach to the FARC and to anyone who questioned its policies. Gradually, the ruling bloc was led by more and more ruthless men, none more than President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010). Uribe, Granda told us, “promised to exterminate us [the FARC] in four years, but he couldn’t.
Granda understands why peace must have been on the agenda ten years ago. “After the failure of Plan Colombia and a stalemate in the war,” he told us, “we could not defeat the Colombian army in a short time, and the Colombian army could not conquer either. the guerrillas in no time. Therefore, a political solution through dialogue was needed. President Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) wrote a letter to the FARC saying that he recognized the internal problems in Colombia and also recognized that the FARC was a political organization and not a narco-terrorist organization. This triggered the negotiations in Havana which resulted in the agreements.
The accords established a plan for integrated land reform and democracy, as well as the restitution of victims of the long war. “We have laid down our arms,” said Granda, “but we did not disarm from an ideological point of view.” Signing the agreements is only part of the FARC’s plan for peace, as their implementation is essential before other kinds of meaningful change can be made. But the Colombian oligarchy, Granda said, has a totally different view of what peace would mean. For the oligarchy, peace means that the FARC guns are silent. “For us,” he said, “peace means an attack on the factors that generate violence in the first place. These include factors such as hunger, dispossession and frustration with the oligarchy and the brutal state violence that the Colombian people continue to protest against. •
This article was produced by Globetrotter.