Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 22, 2010

We’re watching you, Juan Manuel

The world still holds Juan Manuel Santos responsible for the scandal of the “false positives.” It was under Santos’s watch, while he was Uribe’s minister of defense, that hundreds of campesino men were killed and dressed up to pass as dead guerrillas. Needless to say, the world will be observing closely that his administration maintains utmost respect–and I mean transparent, clear as crystal respect–for human rights and the rule of law.

Human rights will further Colombia in —

1) international cooperation

* The Free Trade Agreement with the US is on the fence, as always; as always, the issue of murdered union members, and lethargic government action to correct this, comes up.
* Military aid from the US—why would the US be so worried about enforcing a cap on uniformed personnel in Colombia, if there were no human rights violations? It would be great to be able to say, “Guaranteed, America, that your tax dollars and the men you are training in Colombia will not go on to slaughter innocent civilians.”

2) resolution of rifts with our neighbors

* Ecuador—Juan Manuel Santos and several Colombian military officers have been indicted in absentia by Ecuadorean courts on charges of masterminding the March 2008 raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil. Ecuador views it as a violation of international law. Now, if the Santos administration had a clean slate of human rights, and of respect for the law, the Correa administration would not have a strong case of character reference to take to court.

3) chance for national unity

* Respect for the law would resolve the conflict with the Supreme Court, a must in a democracy. Worrysome it is, indeed, when the Supreme Court expresses that Uribe is undermining the court’s jurisdiction.

4) future negotiation with guerrillas

* The way the old, old fighters in the FARC see it, there is no reason to negotiate with any “oligarchic” government (to them, all governments, as we see them, will be “oligarchic”). Memories of, and subsequently lore about, Marquetalia—of shlepping their wives, children, food, donkeys and arms up the mountain while the government dropped bombs on the civilians—and of the extermination of the Union Patriotica, make them turn away from the negotiating table. But Marulanda is dead. The old people who saw it that way are dead. All that remains are the legends an old guy passes down to a young fighter, and young people are deserting the FARC at a rapid pace. The chance to gain the respect of the younger generation, through the State’s respect of human rights and the law, is here. Prove them wrong. As the Uribe heir, Santos can carry on the Uribe slogan, “mano dura, corazon grande” (“strong hand, big heart”).

President Santos, even those who voted for you would love to see you fail. The party at El Campin, the grandest party to have ever followed a presidential win, is over. Please, por favor, do not rest on the fact that you received the greatest amount of any votes of any president in Colombian history.


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