Friday, June 24, 2016

Peace in our time in Colombia?

Castro regime mediating conflict it sustained for decades.

Castro backed guerrillas continue to wreak havoc in Colombia 52 years later
News that peace may finally come to Colombia after fifty two years of continuous conflict should be cause for celebration, but there are reasons to be concerned that it may not be achieved. First of all having the negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) held in Cuba with the Castro regime as mediator is a bit surprising when one considers the surrounding history.

Colombia has been gripped in a protracted violent conflict since 1948 that in 1964, after a brief respite, returned to bloodshed with the Castro regime providing weapons, training, and financial assistance to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Castro regime continued funding FARC through the 1970s and 1980s. The rise to power of Hugo Chavez in 1999 led to the FARC reportedly being supplied with up to $300 million by Venezuela with the Chavez regime trading arms and oil with the terrorist group.

In the same year a another guerrilla movement would also emerge plunging Colombia into further violence. The National Liberation Army (ELN), after the FARC, is Colombia’s second largest leftist guerrilla group, also formed in 1964 whose founding members were not only inspired by the Communist Revolution in Cuba and Che Guevarra but were also trained in Cuba when they attended "a Cuban scholarship program known as the Brigada Pro Liberación Nacional." ELN sought to overthrow the Colombian government in favor of one following the Castro model in Cuba.

According to Stanford University's Mapping Militant Organizations the April 19 Movement (M-19) guerilla group in Colombia founded in 1974 was also inspired and aided by the Castro regime. M-19 members "attended military training camps in Cuban military academies where they learned both urban and rural forms of guerilla warfare."

On March 1, 1982 the Castro dictatorship was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism less than three months after the U.S. State Department confirmed that the Castro regime was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.

FARC, ELN and M-19 were all designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department and would also be granted safe haven in Cuba by the Castro regime for decades. These guerrilla groups in addition to terrorism also became heavily involved in narcotics trafficking to fund their violence.

Peace in our time: Reboot with Juan Manuel Santos as Chamberlain?
The Economist explains the ambivalence by many in Colombia:
For Colombians, the agreement involves “swallowing toads”, in a local metaphor. The FARC claim to have fought a just war against unequal land ownership. In that cause the country suffered bombings, firefights, murders, kidnapping and extortion. Many people find it hard to accept that FARC leaders accused of crimes against humanity will not go to jail provided they confess. [...]
Nobody knows how much money the FARC has invested from its criminal businesses. Many distrust the sincerity of the FARC’s conversion to democracy. And partly because the peace negotiations have taken so long and missed so many deadlines, Colombians have no love for Mr Santos. In a recent poll his approval rating was just 20%, lower than that of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.
 Now there appears to be a difference between the guerillas and the Colombian government about where the final peace signing will take place. The Colombian government had announced that it would take place in Colombia and the guerillas are insisting that the signing take place in Cuba. Let us hope that this process full of irregularities manages to achieve a lasting peace and not be remembered as the 1938 Munich Agreement, a betrayal in the service of peace that ended in war. 

Prelude to peace in our time in Colombia or something else?

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