The National Catholic Review

Our latest offering from Mirada Global: a look at the legacy of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and the challenges facing his newly installed successor, José Manuel Santos: 

Colombians expect that the recently inaugurated government of José Manuel Santos will put an end to decades of violence. Politics in his country has been dominated by the struggle between rebels, government forces and paramilitary organizations. In the course of the conflict around four million six hundred thousand peasants have been displaced between 1985 and 2008, in other words, nearly 10% of the rural population...

All the actors in Colombia’s political violence agree on one point: there’s no military solution to the conflict. Sooner or later, the belligerent parties will have to sit across one another in a negotiating table, as they did in the Central American civil wars. The military offensives —says each side— do not point to the extermination of the opponent. The objective is to force him to a negotiation from a position of force. The government seems to be closer to this declared goal.

Read "Santos and the Guerillas."

Tim Reidy

Comments

Gabriel Marcella | 9/25/2010 - 9:58am
The piece in Mensaje could be more balanced. By stating that "there's no military solution to the conflict" it overlooks the reality that the military and police have reestablished security in much of the country, and that the paramiltaries have demobilized. This week military forces scored perhaps their greatest success in eliminating the ruthless military leader of the FARC, Mono Jojoy. The author appears to recognize the recognize the value of establishing security when he states that the "government seems...closer to this declared goal:" negotiation from a position of strength. This is precisely how these conflicts end, by the government establishing such an advantage that the opponents decide to quit fighting.

The analogy with the Central American conflicts is not valid. The FARC (designated terrorists by the US, European Community, and Canada) is a bunch of thugs whose leaders are wanted for murder, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking. The government has offered negotiation to end the conflict, but only if the FARC give up kidnapping, murder, extortion, and trafficking. Colombia has a long way to go in achieving peace and justice, but let's recognize the great progress made, thanks in part to the efforts of Colombians, and the support of the United States, the international community, and in spite of the support of Chavez to the FARC.