Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Piedad Córdoba: “No turning back in the Colombian peace process”

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

x piedad cordoba 2“They took away my political rights to get me out of the way”

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for December 16, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Gabriel Díaz

Piedad Córdoba, Colombian lawyer and politician, declares that there is no turning back in the peace process with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) despite the the fact that it has been “very poorly conducted educationally” by the Juan Manuel Santos administration. “Society should take ownership of this process,” she states. She talks in an interview about the Colombian economic model, about the business of war and about what is at stake in the Havana talks. As for her being disqualified from holding government positions, she states, “All my rights were violated.”

You support and work for the peace talks in Havana to come to a good end. The talks have all failed since 1984. What is it about this process in particular that makes you believe in it?

I believe that it lies in the political determination of the government and the FARC not to let the process fail at any point. That is demonstrated by the significant advances made so far and by the quality of the guarantors who are supporting the process, the unwavering support of the Cuban government and, above all, of countries like Venezuela and Chile, which, without being directly involved in the decisions, guarantee that the process can continue. That is why I think it has gotten this far. For example, the subcommittee on gender has been established, the committee on de-escalating the conflict, and the victims’ traveling to Havana and FARC itself recognizing them. Furthermore, there are advances concerning political participation, the question of agrarian reform and the question of drugs. (more…)

Colombia: Fixing the blame

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

[Translations of two articles, the first from Semana of Bogotá, Colombia, for October 30, 2014, the second from La República of Montevideo, Uruguay, for the same date. See originals here and here and related articles here, here, here, here and here.]

FARC acknowledges damage it has caused to civilian population

By Victoria Sandino

For the first time in its history, the FARC guerrilla force admitted on Thursday in Havana that its actions have affected the civilian population throughout the armed conflict despite their not being “the principal or secondary target” of the guerrilla and stressed that they accept their responsibility.

“We are aware that the results of our actions have not always been what were predicted or hoped for by FARC and we accept the consequences, since it could not be otherwise. FARC will accept the appropriate responsibility,” states a communiqué released by the guerrilla group’s peace delegation.

The statement, read to the press by guerrilla fighter “Pablo Atrato,” holds that it “is clear” that as a guerrilla force FARC has “intervened in an active way” and “had an impact on the adversary and in some ways has affected the population living immersed in war.” (more…)

Colombia: Uribe, paramilitarism and imperialist intervention in Latin America

Friday, October 24th, 2014
((Álvaro Uribe))

((Álvaro Uribe))

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for October 16, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here. The author is an activist in the Brazilian chapter of the Marcha Patriótica movement.]

By Javier D. Rodríguez

A few weeks ago a debate was held in the national congress of the Republic of Colombia on the connections between former President and now Senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez and paramilitary groups and narcotraffickers. The debate, initiated by Senator Iván Cepeda of the Polo Democrático Alternativo, sought to ask the Justice Department for results of the investigation into criminal acts allegedly carried out by Uribe, described in detail by Cepeda and other participants during the discussion, which lasted more than eight hours.

The history of Uribe’s involvement in public office is long, as is the history of his corruption scandals and his ties to the paramilitary and drug trafficking. At the time of his first public office as director of civil aviation in 1980, there were charges that he granted permits to planes used by drug trafficking cartels; afterward, as national congressman in 1989, the same Uribe would be one of the main critics of the deportation of drug traffickers; and in his term as governor of the department of Antioquia he was responsible for the birth and growth of paramilitarism through the creation of armed civilian groups called “Convivir” [Asociaciones Comunitarias de Vigilancia Rural]. (more…)

Victims in Havana: The decisive moment in the Colombian peace process

Monday, August 18th, 2014

[Translation of an article from Razón Pública of Bogotá for August 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Marco Alberto Velásquez Ruiz

Victims and peace

The question of the victims has taken the dominant position in the framework of the peace talks being conducted by the government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia]. But political tensions and controversies over who the victims are and how they may be represented by those speaking in Havana threaten to destabilize or even to halt the negotiations.

It is therefore important to examine the process of selecting the victims who are to participate directly in the negotiations, the criticisms that have been made of the process and the possible implications for the continuation of the peace talks.

As Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo has said on several occasions, the Colombian transitional justice effort is based on a series of elements meant to make it effective and legitimate and among these the participation of civil society, especially that of the victims of the conflict, stands out in the development of the dialogue. (more…)

Colombia: What is the opposition going to do?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014
 ((Álvaro Uribe  -- Semana photo by Diana Acosta))

((Álvaro Uribe — Semana photo by Diana Acosta))

After failing to remove Juan Manuel Santos from the Casa de Nariño, former president Uribe’s opposition will move from Twitter to the Senate

[Translation of an unsigned article from Semana of Bogotá for June 16, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

For two years Álvaro Uribe, the most popular politician in the recent history of Colombia, set for himself the goal of preventing the re-election of his immediate successor and heir, Juan Manuel Santos. He turned his Twitter account, with its more than three million followers, into an anti-administration platform; he created the Centro Democrático party, the main opposition block in the new congress, with him in the lead; and with its backing he carried Óscar Iván Zuluaga to within a few percentage points of the Casa de Nariño [seat of the executive branch].

Beyond defeating the Uribista candidate, Santos defeated his mentor, transformed for more than half his first term into his Nemesis. The main reason the re-election campaign did not turn out to be a leisurely exercise, like other recent experiences in Latin America, was Uribe’s determined opposition. The former president was also responsible for exposing and exploiting the current president’s mistakes, in one of the most intense, litigious and aggressive electoral contests in recent history. The relative weakness with which Santos will begin his second term compared with his first is due almost entirely to the attacks by Uribe and his followers. (more…)

Peace in Latin America at stake in Colombian election

Sunday, June 1st, 2014
((Zuluaga and Uribe -- El Clarín photo))

((Zuluaga and Uribe — El Clarín photo))

[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for May 29, 2014. See original here.]

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera

The runoff in the Colombian presidential elections on June 15 will be of exceptional importance for Latin America and the Caribbean.

If Uribista candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga, whose dirty war campaign was managed by [former President Álvaro] Uribe, should prevail, the peace process in Havana between the FARC and the Colombian government would cease and the country would fall into a bloody intensification of the hostilities with this guerrilla and with the ELN [Ejército de Liberación Nacional].

Zuluaga based his campaign on an iron fist against the guerrilla and declared the day after his winning the first round that he would suspend the peace talks in Havana provisionally until the FARC, which he describes as the largest drug cartel in the world, agrees to a unilateral ceasefire and other onerous conditions. This is the equivalent of asking the guerrilla to surrender unconditionally, which would put an end to the promising peace process. (more…)

Colombia: Gustavo Petro leaves a void in the Colombian Left

Monday, March 24th, 2014

FARC warns that Santos’ ruling may affect peace process

[Translation of an article from El Telégrafo of Guayaquil, Ecuador, for March 21, 2014.  See original here and related article here.]

Political leaders and analysts believe that the removal of the mayor of Bogotá will have repercussions in the presidential elections next May. The former official has announced that he will promote voting for “none of the above.”

The former mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, a one-time militant with the M-19 guerrilla movement, is the only local official on the left who has managed to hold a high political office in Colombia. His removal from office is without doubt a blow to the left, which saw in him the possibility of governing [the country], analysts stress.

President Juan Manuel Santos removed Petro in compliance with a request by the attorney general, who held that the mayor committed serious errors in the course of transferring the Bogota garbage collection system from the private sector to the public in 2012, and after denying a petition for a preliminary injunction in the case made on Tuesday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (more…)

After removal of Petro, Colombians question attorney general’s intentions and power

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Attorney general is accused of persecuting leftists while sparing the Right

[Translation of an article from Opera Mundi of São Paulo, Brazil, for December 14, 2013. See original here.]

((Gustavo Petro -- Opera Mundi photo))

((Gustavo Petro — Opera Mundi photo))

by Simone Bruno

“And in spite of it, I am the mayor of Bogotá,” Gustavo Petro shouted during his speech, perhaps the last during his tenure, to thousands of supporters in the Plaza de Bolívar, in the center of the Colombian capital. On Monday, December 9, the attorney general of the nation, who is in charge of conducting administrative trials of public servants, removed him from office and made him ineligible for public office for the next 15 years.

Only two years earlier, the former member of M-19, an urban guerrilla force originating in the 1970s, won the election for the most important position in the capital, the second most important in the country, after the presidency. In his speech, Petro recounted the history of the violence the Left of Colombia has been subjected to in the past few decades, from the extermination of the Unión Patriótica, the party born of a peace accord with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas, when more than 5,000 people were assassinated in seven years, up to the homicides and attacks on former members of M-19 after they signed the peace accord and returned to civilian life. (more…)

The Colombian peace talks: Political reform

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

[Translation of an article from El Turbión of Bogotá for July 11, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Juan Diego García

In the Havana talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia],  debate over the second item on the agenda, political reform, is beginning. And, just as happened at the outset, the government is attempting to reduce the scope of the accords to a minimum while the guerrilla tries to give them the greatest reach possible. Santos advances a very restricted interpretation of political reform that reduces it in practice to guaranteeing electoral participation for the guerrilla without changing the rules of the game, while the guerrilla proposes taking advantage of the occasion to bring about much more far-reaching changes.

This is in reality a repetition of the initial scenario, when the first item on the agenda was dealt with from very contrary positions, which in the end did not stand in the way of a basic agreement on the rural question, as everything seems to indicate. Perfectly normal conduct that nevertheless has a greater reference point that is impossible to ignore: for now, at least, neither side is in a position to defeat the other. This is doubtless the basis that gives meaning to the dialogues and determines the real extent that the possible accords can reach. (more…)

Colombia: The peace process and the international context

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013


((US marines at Turbo, Antioquia, Colombia))

((US marines at Turbo, Antioquia, Colombia))

[Translation of an article from El Turbión of Bogotá, Colombia, for June 7, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Juan Diego García

For the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean a peace process in Colombia is positive from every point of view. None of them benefits directly from the war and, on the contrary, they view with mistrust and fear the possibility that the conflict might spread to neighboring countries or might be reproduced elsewhere sympathetically.

For all of them, the war imposes too many conditions, and in a negative way, on commercial relations, which have grown markedly in the past few years. The fiscal integration of the nations, an imperative need, is blocked by the conflict. To begin with, communication between the two oceans is key, especially in the direction of the Pacific for countries like Venezuela and Brazil. Stability and a good social climate are important requirements for business to prosper. War as a permanent fixture benefits only those who profit from the arms trade or who practice a primitive capitalism. So peace would eliminate a source of concern for the governments of the region, one that is not at all negligible. (more…)

Brazil should take part in the Colombian conflict, Marcha Patriótica says

Sunday, June 9th, 2013


((David Flórez))

((David Flórez))

Spokesman for Colombian political movement suggests Brazilian government may be backing Santos’ policy

[Translation of an interview from Opera Mundi of São Paulo for June 3, 2013.  See original here and related articles here, here, here, here and here.]

The Colombian political movement Marcha Patriótica is hoping for a more “pro-active” position from the Brazilian government on the historical conflict between the Colombian government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) guerrillas.  David Flórez, spokesman for the movement, declared in an interview with Opera Mundi, “It is not very clear if (the Brazilian government) is for peace or if it backs Santos’ policies.”

Flórez and other members of the political and social coalition, of which former Senator Piedad Córdoba is a member, were in Porto Alegre on May 24, 25 and 26 as guests of the Fórum Pela Paz na Colômbia [Forum for Peace in Colombia], held in the gaúcho state’s legislative assembly. The event included social activist groups from Argentina and Uruguay, who endured  nearly 24 hours on a bus to arrive at the capital of Rio Grande do Sul.  Brazilian participation was less challenging in comparison. (more…)

Colombia: First political agreement between government and FARC in 30 years of negotiations

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

[Translation of an article from Semana of Bogotá for May 27, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Álvaro Sierra Restrepo

The peace process between the government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) got a powerful boost on Sunday. After six months of talks, the parties announced they had reached agreement on the question of rural development, the first of the five items on the agenda, and that they will move on to the second, that of participation in electoral politics, in the next round of talks, beginning on June 11.

The announcement, which both sides clearly wanted especially to stress, as they charged Norway and Cuba, the host countries, with reading their joint communiqué to the press for the first time, has both a deep meaning and a powerful impact. (more…)