Colombian plebiscite: The key question

The purpose of President Juan Manuel Santos and Timochenko, the head of the FARC, is to legitimize the peace accords forged in Havana...

The Colombians are going to vote Yes or No. That’s what plebiscites are for. The government asks a question — “Do you want to put an end to the war in Colombia?” — and the people express their opinion.

Because the Colombians are not showing much enthusiasm, the government has arranged to allow only 13 percent of the voters to vote in the affirmative before it sends the bells pealing and declares that peace has broken out. A vote of 50 percent plus 1 of the electoral census, the standard in other referenda in other latitudes, will not be necessary.

The purpose of President Juan Manuel Santos and Timochenko, the head of the FARC, is to legitimize the peace accords forged in Havana. The FARC, please understand, are the armed wing of the Colombian communist party.

To Santos and his government, this is the definitive way to end a bloody war that has lasted half a century, in which hundreds of thousands of people have died or have been murdered, a war that has forced the forcible displacement of several million farmers who today wander the streets without a trade or benefits, while thousands of Colombians have been kidnapped and maltreated for years, including numerous teenage girls who have been turned into sexual slaves for the guerrillas.

The price of peace is to accept that these communist narcoguerrillas “spend not a day in jail,” as the FARC chieftains insist, violating the law and the existing penal code. This will be enabled by an elastic “transitional justice,” a treacly rigmarole that replaces jail cells with some ambiguous expressions of guilt without repentance, because contrition is not even contemplated by the gallant Marxist-Leninist combatants.

To them, those deaths and those crimes, or the massive traffic in cocaine, are inevitable. They are collateral damage produced during their battle to achieve a better, more just world. As “Timochenko” puts it, they don’t have to beg forgiveness for anything. He and all the officers who accompany him in Havana feel happy and proud for that half a century of horror and sacrifice.

Santos’ mistake is that he doesn’t understand his enemy’s reasons to sit down and negotiate. Why does he do so? Let us jot down the main ones.

First, the FARC felt defeated. The deaths of Raúl Reyes, Mono Jojoy and Alfonso Cano, within a brief period of air bombardment, convinced them that it was just a matter of time before their high command would be decimated. Álvaro Uribe’s Democratic Security doctrine was being successful.

The appearance of drones was central to this irritating realization. Soon, the leaders would find it very difficult to hide. Military technology would liquidate them in a short while. The gathering in Havana was intended to find other ways to achieve the results they wanted.

Second, there was an alternative to gain a communist victory, a blueprint supplied by Chavism. If peace was reached and the FARC inserted itself in the political world, they could achieve power by following a tested script: a new Constitution to amend the laws to suit their new objective, a leftist candidate backed by the FARC (as they had done in El Salvador with journalist Mauricio Funes, a man close to the Farabundo Martí Front) and the takeover of the Judiciary, something in which they had advanced a lot.

Third, once in power, they would unleash a tremendous popular offensive to swiftly create the patronage networks by transferring bountiful resources to “the people,” even if the productive apparatus fell totally apart in the process. No matter. What’s essential is to build an enormous army of grateful bellies, to break the backbone of liberal democracy and market economy, and to create a new revolutionary bourgeoisie with the money and property seized from the members of “the old regime.”

Fourth, generate the mechanism to hold on to power permanently. Alternation and the change of government and system are foolish trifles cherished by the democrats, unfit for any true revolutionary who takes seriously the teachings of Father Lenin. As happens in Cuba, power is never surrendered.

And how is all this achieved? Well, with massive amounts of money, like the ones furnished by drug trafficking. The FARC are the world’s third-ranking drug cartel. They won’t renounce that standing. Communist revolution justifies everything. Nobody else has as much “marmalade,” the word used in Colombia to define the money spent in bribing and buying consciences.

Finally, will the vote be Yes or No? In my opinion, the honest question would be, “Do you agree that the FARC should abandon their armed struggle and devote themselves, by political means, to destroying liberal democracy and the market economy and to try to build a dictatorship in Colombia like the ones in Cuba and Venezuela?” That would be a true plebiscite.

Published by El Blog de Montaner on August 21st, 2016