Narco-Terror Is Being Rewarded in Colombia
The so-called peace deal does little to redress decades of deadly violence.
The Wall Street Journal
By ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ
July 7, 2016
Since 2012, the government of Colombia has been negotiating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for an end to FARC’s decades-long narco-terrorism campaign against the Colombian people. President Juan Manuel Santos has said he hopes to have a final agreement this summer, followed by a plebiscite to approve the deal. But peace in Colombia will only be sustainable if it is achieved through a genuine commitment to justice, reparation for victims, and a definitive end to FARC’s violence on terms that are acceptable to their victims and to the Colombian people at large.
The current negotiations do not ensure genuine accountability for FARC members responsible for war crimes and human-rights violations; and that those guilty of kidnapping, murder, forced abortions, armed displacement, indiscriminate attacks on innocent women and children or drug trafficking will be appropriately punished. On the contrary, the so-called peace agreement will serve as a thick mantle of impunity.
The agreements with FARC are clever in the way they disguise impunity. While there will be investigations, trials and sentences for human-rights violations, those who plead guilty will in every case be exempted from prison time. The agreement explicitly grants convicted—and confessed—human-rights violators the right to run for public office, a right that the Colombian Constitution expressly withholds from convicted felons. Think of what will happen: FARC kingpins who ordered massacres, kidnappings, child-soldier recruitment and extortions, will now run for mayors and governors of the regions they victimized.
The agreements also grant total amnesty for drug trafficking. By being labeled a “political crime,” drug trafficking becomes eligible for executive amnesty. There will be no prison in Colombia or extradition to the U.S. for those running the world’s largest cocaine cartel.
To make things worse, the agreement includes no demand for FARC to surrender the billions of dollars worth of illegal assets that it has amassed through the drug traffic. Colombian and American taxpayers—the latter through U.S. foreign aid to Colombia—will carry the entire burden of economic reparations for FARC’s victims.
FARC’s vast illegal fortune will doubtless be used to advance its “political” agenda after it “transitions” into becoming a political party. Given the size of its ill-gotten treasury, FARC will become the wealthiest political organization in the country by far, which will seriously imperil the stability of Colombian democracy.
The negotiations already have emboldened FARC and boosted the drug trade. Largely thanks to Plan Colombia—the U.S. military, diplomatic and economic program to fight narco-terrorism and drug cartels in Colombia—Colombia’s cocaine production potential fell from 585 to 180 metric tons between 2002 and 2011. But the negotiations and the concessions to FARC have reversed that trend. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Colombia’s cocaine-production potential had reached 420 metric tons by 2015.
There are serious doubts as well about the authenticity of the democratic ratification process proposed by the Colombian government. As things stand, the complex agreements reached with FARC will be presented to citizens in the deceptively simple yes/no question, without letting people decide on the merits of their varied points—on transitional justice, rural development policy, political “democratization” and others. Also concerning: The government has pushed for a constitutional amendment that reduces the turnout threshold from 50% to 13% of those eligible to vote, thus ensuring the plebiscite’s passage through the use of public funds to mobilize local political machines, but at the expense of a meaningful democratic mandate.
Without a genuinely participatory and deliberative mechanism of democratic ratification, it is doubtful that these questionable agreements will enjoy the popular support necessary to lead to stability and peace. If there is anything Colombians have learned over decades of attempted negotiations with other terrorist groups it is that impunity always becomes the seed of new forms of violence.
Mr. Uribe, the former president of Colombia (2002-10), is now a senator.