Last night, President Santos said if the FARC continue destroying infrastructure, he does not see a reason for peace dialogues to continue.

These are some of the attacks on infrastructure that the FARC have recently carried out:

On July 28, four thousand residents of Buenaventura were left without electricity after the FARC destroyed infrastructure. 

On July 26, the FARC’s 53rd Front blew up a part of the aqueduct in Granada in Meta department –which left 60,000 people without water.

On July 22, the FARC damaged the Nowen Bridge over the Guaviare River on the roadway connecting the departments of Meta and Guaviare, 15 km from the city of San José de Guaviare. This means the residents of Meta and Guaviare cannot use one of the country’s main roadways.

The FARC had previously damaged the bridge on July 16.

On July 17, the FARC detonated explosives on a bridge that connected the municipalities of Barbacoas and Tumaco in the department of Nariño.

Colombia is in desperate need of infrastructure; for example: San Vicente del Cagúan in Caqueta department gained fame as the seat of FARC-government negotiations during the era of former President Andres Pastrana. Ten years later, one of the greatest complaints from its residents is that the road between San Vicente and Neiva is mere lush mountains, land-slides, mud, and FARC extortions. It now takes seven hours of travel to get from city to city. If the road was paved, it would only take three hours and legitimate commerce would flourish. A container shipped from Hong Kong is much, much cheaper to transport –five times less, in fact – than it is from any Colombian port. In 2011, the Santos government passed a ten-year $55 billion dollar investment plan for new infrastructure.

On the environmental front, on July 1, the FARC’s 48th Front forced drivers of 23 tanker trucks to empty their fuel onto the roadway, polluting water sources in Putumayo. One hundred and six families were immediately affected, and it produced estimated losses of about US$900,000.

Land mines, which the FARC have planted over the years, make the clean-up even more difficult.

On July 23, again in Putumayo department, the FARC forced four more tanker trucks to empty their fuel onto the roadway.

Jorge Coral Rivas, the mayor of Puerto Asís, asked that the oil spills be addressed in talks in Havana. Putumayo has great fauna and flora diversity — and is also home to some of the thickest coca fields in the world.

To note: On May 20, the FARC broke international human rights law when the FARC’s “Jacobo Arenas” column used a school in Cauca department to store 76 gas cylinder bombs, putting at risk 120 children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Only a wall separated the children from the explosives. The FARC also planted nine “artisan explosives” around and near the school.

A number of people who had a past in a rebel group, and who you may think would support the FARC, have harsh words for the FARC.

Everth Bustamante was once one of the leaders of the now defunct guerrilla group, Movimiento 19 de Abril, M-19. He is now a senator for Alvaro Uribe’s Centro Democrático. Uribe’s Centro Democrático is a stiff opponent of the peace talks with the FARC.

Bustamante said, “I come from a guerrilla group who signed peace in the 90s, but I have understood that the principal basis of President Uribe’s policy of democratic security is the grand axis, the spine that allows citizens to recover their participation in democracy …”

Bustamante said President Santos wished to establish a “co-government” with the FARC.

Angelino Garzon, the current vice-president, was the General Secretary of the labor union Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT, between 1981 and 1990. He served as the Minister of Labour and Social Protection under President Pastrana, from 2000 until 2002.

Garzon said, “The FARC are turning into the worst enemies of peace … I ask the civilian population that we demand the guerrilla sign peace this year.”

Putumayo has great fauna and flora diversity.

Putumayo has great fauna and flora diversity.

 

Putumayo is also home to some of the thickest coca fields in the world.

Putumayo is also home to some of the thickest coca fields in the world.

 

During the month of July, the FARC forced tanker trucks to empty their fuel onto the roadway.

During the month of July, the FARC forced tanker trucks to empty their fuel onto the roadway.

 

 

 

Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 18, 2014

Video for World Cup Withdrawal

Dear soccer fans — Some of you may be suffering from World Cup withdrawal syndrome.

I found this, and I wanted to share it with you, and so ease your symptoms.

Of interest: James Rodríguez, David Ospina, Luis Amaranto Perea, Juan Fernando Quintero, and Falcao García were as children part of the Ponyfútbol tournament. They all met as children, either as team mates or team rivals.

Colombia needs to nourish its young sports talents. The roster above shows the Colombian talent.

 

 

Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 28, 2014

Today’s Soccer Victory in Memory of Andres Escobar

Today, after Colombia’s soccer victory, 2-0, over Uruguay, Colombians are experiencing feelings of pride, self-worth, and national unity.

GO, COLOMBIA!!

Twenty years ago, during the 1994 World Cup, Colombia arrived as one of the favored teams and the expectations were also high. The stadium was packed with the yellow, blue and red. The horns blew, the flags fluttered.

GO, COLOMBIA!!

Then, Andres Escobar, Colombia’s tall lanky defender, scored a goal on his own team. In his face, seconds after it happened, you see the defeat and the disappointment forming the empty hole in this twenty-four year old’s stomach—the realization that his life will never be the same again.

Andres was the team’s captain. He could not walk down any Colombian street without being asked for an autograph. He was who the advertisers called when they needed a role model. Before the World Cup, he already had offers to play with Mexican and Italian teams, and to his fiancée, he spoke about what their life would be like in Milan. In that second of confusion, when the ball slid off his leg and he kicked it toward his own team’s net, all that was finished.

The team returned to Colombia with long faces, and the country greeted them with equal chagrin. It was hard for Andres to leave his house in Medellin; the taunts, “nice goal” and “you caused us the game,” accompanied him everywhere he went. His team members, who feared for their own lives, advised Andres to stay home, to lay low. The once-happy fans were beyond angry.

One night, July 2, 1994, Andres felt he needed to break out of the self-imposed prison in which he was living, and he went out to a disco. There was the expected teasing, “congratulations on that goal,” “loser,” “nice goooaaal.” And Andres drank to numb it out. Later, at 3 a.m. in the parking lot, people approached him and began accosting him. Someone yelled “fag” and someone else touched his behind. Andres erupted back.

Then, he was shot. The killer yelled “GOOOOOOOOAL” for each of the twelve bullets fired from the 38-caliber pistol.

Apparently, the mafia had made large bets on the team winning, and Andres scoring on his own team lost them a lot of money. Humberto Castro Muñoz, a driver for the Gallon brothers, a family of powerful drug traffickers, was found guilty and sentenced to forty-three years in prison. He was released after serving eleven years due to good behavior.

More than 3,000 people attended Andres’s funeral. His shooting made world headlines. The fans, suddenly, had a change of heart: “This is shameful,” and “This should not have happened to a young man,” and “Why did this happen?” Through tears, the fans erected a statue in Medellin to honor Andres.

Andres Escobar’s story exposes raw human nature. In one second, the passion of disappointed fans turned them into raging beasts; then, the finality of death transformed them into weeping repentants.

Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 13, 2014

Follower of Santos’s opposition declared missing in Arauca

Back in the beginning of May, German Vargas Lleras, the vice-presidential candidate of president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos, was in campaign in Arauca. A man in the audience interrupted him with a question about housing.

Vargas Lleras grew extremely frustrated that his speech was disrupted, and he called the man a “gamin.” Vargas Lleras said, “With this gamin here, I can’t do this.”

The man responded, “I am from Arauca, and I also deserve respect.”

A “gamin” is a word for someone uneducated, for someone who loiters on the streets. In Colombia, it is a big insult to call someone a “gamin,” because it implies you are the lowest of the lowest.

The YouTube video below grew viral on the internet.

The man Vargas Lleras called a “gamin” was Juan Carlos Santamaría, a former delegate for Arauca and a former candidate for the House of Representatives in the past elections on March 9th.

Santamaría is a follower of the opposition candidate, Óscar Iván Zuluaga.

Santamaría was reported missing last night. He is allegedly kidnapped. Thus far, no illegal armed group has claimed responsibility for his disappearance.

Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 11, 2014

A vote for Santos is a vote for impunity for human rights violators.

On June 7 — in very suspicious timing, just eight days prior to presidential elections — the peace negotiators appointed by the president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC negotiators in Havana issued a declaration that says they will now address the rights of victims in the next phase of talks. 

In the declaration, both sides critically acknowledged their responsibility in human rights abuses and violations, and announced their commitment to creating a “commission to establish the facts.”

The “victims of human rights abuses” have the right to the truth, justice, compensation, and the guarantee that such violations will never happen again, says the document. 

The question remains: What justice are they referring to?

The document says, “The rights of the victims of the conflict are not negotiable; it is about finding common agreement about how to satisfy them in the best way within the the frame of the end of the conflict.

The announcement to create a truth commission to address victims does not change the fact that the transitional laws the Santos government and the FARC have agreed to will end in the impunity of human rights violators.

“Within the the frame of the end of the conflict” means impunity and FARC negotiators being gifted seats in congress, as part of any final agreement.

The 10-point plan offers no guarantee to bring to justice those who displaced, tortured, killed, abducted, disappeared or raped millions of Colombians over the past five decades.

At Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo was asked about the roles of transitional justice and the International Criminal Court.

Jaramillo responded: “The question remains, what about punishment? .. That remains to be seen .. it depends very much on what happens, and how willing FARC is to take serious victims rights. … We do think that it is possible to address victim rights .. over larger effort, over guaranteeing everyone’s rights, especially in those conflict areas, then you have a more rounded view of what ideal justice is.”

Of international law, Santos said, “the right of Colombia, and all nations, to seek peace must be respected. We ask that you continue to accompany us, but respecting our decisions and our way to make peace.”

Santos’s way to make peace is to give impunity to human rights violators, and a vote for Santos is a vote for this impunity.

“The government must ensure that those responsible for crimes under international law do not simply get away with it. Victims have a right to see justice served in ordinary civilian courts. It will be a challenge, but it is the only way to ensure a lasting and effective peace in Colombia,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia researcher at Amnesty International.

It is so clear to see that undermining victims’ rights in the peace process will lead to further violence.

Since the announced 10-point plan does not serve justice in addressing victims’ rights, one cannot help thinking this is one more way Santos uses the peace process for his campaigning purposes.

We saw another campaign gimmick in yesterday’s announcement — with five days to go until elections — that the ELN is ready to talk to Santos-appointed negotiators.

Another campaign gimmick was Santos’s announcement on an agreement on illegal drugs — a week before the first-round of presidential elections.

It is madness to witness President Santos appropriating “peace” as only something he can do. In his campaign branding, he does everything short of trademarking the word “peace.” Colombians see through this. It is hard not to see the desperation.

If the FARC really were committed to peace, it would not matter who is living at Casa de Nariño. If the FARC want peace, they would show their commitment and stop recruiting children, to begin with. If the FARC want peace, they would stop planting land mines near schools and in fields were kids have to walk through to get to school. If the FARC want peace, FARC commanders would stop using little girls as sexual slaves.

And if the ELN are ready for peace, they, too, will seek contact with whoever occupies Palacio de Nariño.

Why do Santos’s supporters think peace will only come with Santos as president?

Clara Lopez, who ran as the candidate for the Alternative Democratic Pole, said, Santos “has wanted to appropriate as his re-election flag what should be a policy of State. …  This is a subject that they have wanted to turn into (something) electoral.”

 

 

In the video above, the president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos asks a group of women, “would you lend your children to the war?”

Santos continues, “Raise your arm those who will lend their kids to the war?”

No one raises their arm. Of course not. Duh! We are people with emotions: We feel pain: You say kids and war in the same sentence, and our heart tickles for the ones we put to bed every night.

Santos then says, “So who will fight this war? We are asking of other mothers to put the dead, other mothers to put the wounded, other mothers to put the mutilated. This is what we are telling campesino mothers, and the most poor mothers, when we vote for war. How easy it is to fight a war with others’ children.”

Now.

This is an open question to Juan Manuel Santos.

Juan Manuel Santos, if you feel in your bones that young adults should not be fighting a war, why then has the State you govern not held FARC negotiators in Havana accountable for the recruitment of children in FARC ranks? Children as young as twelve years old, maybe younger.

By not stopping the recruitment of children into the FARC, you are are not telling, but rather forcing campesino mothers, and the most poor mothers, that they must give their children to the war, without a choice. You know the FARC come for the children at gun-point.

Juan Manuel Santos, are you prioritizing the rights of a certain strata of children and not all Colombian children? Are you prioritizing the feelings of one strata of mothers and not all Colombian mothers?

Juan Manuel Santos is certainly diminishing the pain of mothers whose children were taken by armed groups and whose babies became child soldiers — after all, the State he was elected to govern has done nothing to stop the recruitment of children into armed groups.

It is high time to hold the State accountable for upholding the rights of all children, regardless where they live, regardless whose side they are on, so-to-speak. (Are children ever on a side?)

Pain is equal: We feel the same emotions: Her pain is my pain: My pain is your pain: They are all our children.

On the watch of Juan Manuel Santos, the FARC continue recruiting children while talking peace.

Marta Lucia Ramirez — a woman — has joined Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, and has made him promise to set conditions for the FARC to stop the recruitment of children in order for peace talks to continue.

This is excellent news. It would certainly show commitment from the FARC if they stopped using children as sex slaves, cannon fodder, messengers, mules, and human bombs.

Now, here is an open question to Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and Marta Lucia Ramirez.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, would a Zuluaga government ratify the United Nations Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for a Communications Procedure?

This would mean that children or their representative has the right to speak for themselves, in their own words, and file a complaint with the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child if children feel their State is not upholding the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The new law went into effect in April 2014. The law would only apply to Colombia if Colombia ratified the Optional Protocol.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, would you ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for a Communications Procedure the moment you are sworn in as president?

We need to know the commitment to children goes past an election campaign. Because if it’s all talk, and no action, people will again feel cheated. 

And, really, how disgusting it would be to use the rights of children in politics — and yet, is this not exactly what is happening here?

 

 

 

 

 

With a lead of 3.57 percent over President Juan Manuel Santos, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga won the first round of voting in Colombia’s presidential election last Saturday.

Zuluaga’s victory is evidence that few Colombians believe in Santos’s proposed peace plan. You could say the results of the election gauged the temperature for any future referendum with the FARC.

The people of Colombia have spoken: no peace negotiations with the FARC under the current conditions in which the FARC continue to recruit children, bomb state infrastructure, kidnap, extortion, and traffic drugs.

Zuluaga received an overwhelming majority of votes in areas which have historically been FARC-controlled.

In Casanare, of 121,301 votes, 57.72 percent were for Zuluaga and 8.94 percent for Santos. (10.24 percent for Ramirez, 10.15 percent for Lopez, 8.31 percent for Peñaloza, and 4.62 percent blank vote)

In Caqueta, of 90,664 votes, 51.65 percent were for Zuluaga and 16.71 percent for Santos. (11.90 percent for Lopez, 8.96 percent for Ramirez, 5.61 percent for Peñaloza, and 5.13 percent blank vote.)

Zuluaga already announced he will cut off all negotiations with the FARC the day after he is president. Negotiations will only continue if the FARC cease all terrorism against the Colombian people.

The video below shows why Santos lost the first round of elections:

A reporter from Spain asked FARC negotiators in Havana if they would say sorry to their victims. The response was laughter, and a song: “Maybe, maybe, maybe.”

Related:

Shocking to hear FARC and President Santos speak of ICC in same vein.

International law trumps transitional laws.

Schools as war zones.

 

The FARC know how to influence presidential elections.

Last Friday — just a week away from elections — the FARC and the government negotiators in Havana announced they have come to an agreement on the issue of illegal drugs.

Deja-vu in this political chess game.

Andres Pastrana was elected president by an election influenced by the FARC. Pastrana’s friend, Victor G. Ricardo, managed to snap a photo of himself with FARC head Manuel Marulanda in which Marulanda wore a watch from the Pastrana campaign.

Pastrana’s political strategists went to work, and immediately put out the press releases with the photo. Pastrana won the election in 1998 in large part thanks to that photo. The photo and the press releases and the media swayed voters into thinking a peace accord would be reached between the FARC and the government of Andres Pastrana. Voters were made to think we would all live happily ever after.

It is the same electoral game: Just a week before elections, the FARC and the government negotiators in Havana announced the agreement on the Herculean challenge of illegal drugs. The announcement of the agreement, the press releases, and the media may sway voters into thinking a peace accord will be reached between the FARC and the government of Juan Manuel Santos.

Can someone explain to me why Colombia repeats its history?

I really want to believe in this peace accord — because I want to believe Colombia can live in peace.

But I have no faith in these so-called peace pacts when on the same week that the FARC and Santos’s negotiators announce the historical agreement on illegal drugs, the FARC use two children to transport bombs to a police station near the port town of Tumaco on the Pacific. The bombs detonated early and the children died.

It is with great sadness, with a heavy heart and a loss of hope, that I cannot believe in this political charade. In the last week, Colombians were shown the truth: the government of Juan Manuel Santos holds no consequences for such heinous crime as the homicide of two innocent kids who were killed after being falsely lured to handle the bombs in exchange for money.

How can there be peace with a State that utterly disregards the rights of children? Colombia’s redemption depends on guaranteeing the rights of children, which in turn, will yield Colombia a peaceful future.

Related:

Presidential Candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez speaks up for children’s rights.

Peace Commissioner Jaramillo explains the peace process at Harvard.

 

 

Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | May 14, 2014

This month marks the FARC’s 50th anniversary.

This month marks the FARC’s 50th anniversary. This video, made by the FARC, explains the FARC version of how the conflict began:

May 1964: One thousand and two hundred campesinos, men, women and children, were gathered in an abandoned hacienda, “Marquetalia,” on the border of the departments of Tolima, Huila and Cauca. The fog and the luscious plant life made it the ideal hiding place for these Communists fleeing from the government’s army. Forty-two families, along with pigs, sheep, string sacs filled with coal for the cooking fires, coffee, soap, and blocks of salt also made its way up the mountains, to one of its highest peaks from where they could keep an eye out; the army was expected any day. The cabbage and the carrots were atop the boxes containing dynamite, and the mules logged it up one step at a time. The heavy rain turned the paths into landslides, and some mules went tumbling down. All dogs were slain because their barking gave them away. Thirty-five year-old Pedro Antonio Marín’s job was to instruct the FARC’s original thirty soldiers. He’d already gained the name “Sureshot” (“Tirofijo”) for his deadly accuracy; he later became the legend behind the FARC. 

Isaias Pardo, Sureshot’s brother-in-law, was there. “Do not think that we are powerless because we are not,” he said. “We can be confused for this jungle. We are the water. We are one with these trees.” His calm self was transformed and he was adamant—“Quicker!”—about in which dirt roads they should plant land mines.

For two years, this Communist commune had taxed people, a cow here, a bucket of milk there. They also printed their own communist money to pay corrupt judges. In locales under their control, there were no civilian authorities who answered to the national government and anyone who entered or left had to get a permit. There were the first incidents of forced recruitment of minors. The government called the area of Marquetalia an enclave and called for its invasion.

On June 15, 1964, at six in the morning, the families watched sixteen thousand well-equipped government soldiers land in the mountains of Marquetalia. Smoke rose from the family’s burnt homes in the valley beneath.

Sureshot instructed the men to make their way to the high mountaintops. “And bring along the long-range arms,” he said.

There were fallen branches, swamps, quicksand, and in the distance, they heard government soldiers cutting down trees, then two hundred and fifty of the government’s best trained and most agile threw themselves off DC-3’s and C-47 planes. Their bombs shook the ground every few minutes. The army helped an Indian chief, who had health problems, and so earned the trust of his immediate clan. The natives helped the army lug along 60-mm mortars and machine guns.

Isaias Pardo and a few others were mid-mountain, planting more land mines. Around every one hundred meters, there was a grenade or a land mine explosion. Atop, Sureshot’s men were already firing and the government’s reinforcements could not land.

The survivors founded the FARC. That was the beginning of this war story.

Additional Sources:

Alape, Arturo. Las Vidas de Pedro Antonio Marín Manuel Marulanda Vélez Tirofijo. (Santafé de Bogotá: Planeta, 1989.)

Arango Zuluaga, Carlos. Guerrillas FARC-EP: cronicas y testimonios de guerra. (Bogotá: Ediciones Anteo Ltd., 1984.)

Arenas, Jacobo. Diario de la resistencia de Marquetalia. (Colombia: Abejo Mono, 1972.)

Buenaventura, Nicolás. Cuadernos de historia del Partido Colombiano Comunista No. 2. (Bogotá: Editorial Colombia Nueva Ltda, 1990.)

Henderson, James D. When Colombia Bled: History of Violence in Colombia. (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1985.)

Jaramillo Echeverri, Marino. Oposición y violencia en Colombia. (1920-1934). (Santa Fé de Bogotá: Ediciones Academica Colombiana de Jurisprudencia, 2003.)

Medina, Medofilo. Historia del partido Comunista, tomo I. (Bogotá: CEIS, Centro de estudios e investigaciones sociales, 1980.)

Moncada Abello, Alonso. Un Aspecto de la Violencia. (Bogotá: Promotora Colombiana de Ediciones y Revistas, 1963.)

Oviedo, Alvaro. Trabajo de Masas del Partido Comunista. (Bogotá: Fondo editorial suramérica, coleccion educación, 1979.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

German Vargas Lleras, the vice-presidential candidate of president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos, was in campaign in Arauca. A man in the audience interrupted him with a question about housing.

Vargas Lleras grew extremely frustrated that his speech was disrupted, and called the man a “gamin.” Vargas Lleras said, “With this gamin here, I can’t do this.”

The man responded, “I am from Arauca, and I also deserve respect.”

A “gamin” is a word for someone uneducated, for someone who loiters on the streets. In Colombia, it is a big insult to call someone a “gamin,” because it implies you are the lowest of the lowest.

The exchange between the vice-presidential candidate from Bogotá and a citizen of Arauca seems a caricature from history.

Politicians from Bogotá, particularly white, male, Bogotá politicians, have traditionally been viewed by the rest of the country as high-nosed, as only concerned with their own interests, and the man’s response — “I am from Arauca, and I also deserve respect.” — is evidence this reputation of Bogotanos lives on.

It is particularly telling that it was Vargas Lleras who behaved this way; he comes from one of the country’s most prominent political families as he is a grandson of former President Carlos Lleras Restrepo, and nephew of the former presidential candidate Carlos Lleras de la Fuente. Vargas Lleras is an example of what academics call “Los de siempre. The same ones as always.” It is hard not to see the entitlement in his behavior.

The man in Arauca is right. He deserves respect. I am sorry for him.

And even so, if the man in Arauca spoke up solely with the intention to provoke Vargas Lleras, it proves the point even further: the incident was plotted to bring out this historical (hereditary) disrespect from Bogotá’s (white male) leadership, which, sadly, the rest of the country has come to expect.

 

 

 

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