Colombia: para terror despite FARC ceasefire

An official bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas took effect Aug. 29, five days after a formal peace deal was signed in Havana. But the Organization of American States (OAS) delegation to the peace talks issued a statement protesting that on the very day the ceasefire too force, four indigenous campesinos and three social leaders were killed in Colombia—by presumed paramilitaries. The slaying of three members of the Awá people in Nariño department was reported by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).  The slaying of the three campesino leaders in Almaguer, Cauca department, was reported by the Committee for the Integration of the Colombian Massif (CIMA). (AFP, ONIC, Aug. 30; Colombia Informa, Aug. 29; El Tiempo, Aug 25)

Details of the peace deal have now been released. It calls for an amnesty for crimes related to the armed conflict under "the broadest possible terms," while excluding crimes related to narco-trafficking. This presumably also excludes extremely grave crimes, which are to be addressed under emerging mechanisms of "transitional justice."

The FARC is to be subsidized by the Colombian state during a transitional period as it transforms into a political party. Starting in 2018, the FARC's new political party (as yet unnamed) will have 10 guaranteed seats in Colombia's Congress—five each in the 106-member Senate and 166-member lower house. The seats will be guaranteed for two four-year terms. Starting with the 2026 elections, the new party will have to compete on its own merits. New voting districts will be created for the guaranteed seats. (El Tiempo, Aug. 26; Colombia Reports, WP, Aug. 25; El Tiempo, Aug. 24)

The agreement also calls for an "Integral Rural Reform" to effect a "structural transformation" of the countryside, and a "Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs" to be rooted in human rights and an approach based on public health. (Comunicado Conjunto # 93 of the peace delegations, via Prensa Rural, Aug. 24)

The deal is to be put before the voters in a national plebiscite on Oct. 2. Colombia's Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) has expressed concerns over the vote being carried out fairly in the conflicted departments of Chocó, Arauca, Cauca and Putumayo, due to what it called potential "citizen intolerance"—presumably a euphemism for paramilitary activity. (El Tiempo, Aug. 26)

Senator and ex-president Álvaro Uribe, a harsh critic of the peace process, made the ironic comment that the deal will transform the FARC into a "paramilitary group in partnership with the state." This despite the fact the deal's provisions are all contingent on the FARC laying down arms and refraining from all violence. (El Espectador, Aug. 26) During Uribe's rule as president, the actual right-wing paramilitaries really were in a partnership with the state.