Vox News Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUFQCIuVuLc
A Synopsis of the FARC conflict in Colombia:
Since 1964, the Colombian government has fought an intense civil war with a Marxist extremist group called the “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,” commonly referred to as simply the FARC. Throughout the lengthy conflict, hundreds of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, and Colombia has been left in chaos.
The FARC’s main agenda is to establish a more socialist – or even a communist regime – in Colombia, aiming to distribute rural lands more equally among farmers. Indeed, economic inequality in Colombia is at large; according to the Vox News Video linked above, 0.2% of farms own over 30% of farmland, namely due to the dominance of multinational corporations. Claiming to represent the interests of rural regions and farmers, the FARC has vehemently and violently advocated for more equality in Colombian society and the economy. Though the FARC’s ideologies in principle seem legitimate and valid, its actions tell a different story.
The main medium of funding utilized by the FARC is drug trafficking, which, in itself, has its dubious moral implications. Many argue, however, that the FARC crossed the line when it began utilizing child soldiers, raping local residents, and kidnapping journalists. What began as a revolution for equality and social justice transformed into terror and violence, clouding the FARC’s visions and initial ideological aspirations. As the FARC continued its efforts, it rather instigated more fear and terror among citizens.
Though the government and the FARC have been at war for around half a century, under former president Álvaro Uribe’s leadership from 2002 – 2010, the extremist organization was significantly weakened. As Vox News finds, the FARC lost around 60% of their fighters under President Uribe’s crackdown. This led the FARC to the negotiating table under the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, in 2012. After years of talks and negotiations, the FARC and the Colombian government signed a ceasefire agreement on September 2016, attracting heads of state and influential figures such as Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to celebrate the end of a 52-year old conflict.
Although the two parties signed the ceasefire, to officially end the war, a referendum was held to put a vote on the official peace negotiations that was drafted between the government and the FARC. All the polls showed that the peace deal was going to pass; everyone expected the referendum results to yield to a confident, triumphant “Yes” vote of approval. The polls, however, were wrong. Everyone was wrong. On October 2nd 2016, the Colombian people voted “No” by a small margin of 0.2% (50.2% No; 49.8% Yes). Thus, the peace plan that took around four years to negotiate and draft went up in flames.
Colombia now faces a period of uncertainty and instability. Although the ceasefire agreement is in effect, the war itself has not ended. A peace plan has been rejected. Years of progress have been neglected.
“We affirm before Colombia and the world,” proclaims Timoleón Jiménez, current commander in chief of the FARC, “that [FARC] guerrilla fronts throughout the country will remain in bilateral and indefinite ceasefire as a necessary measure of relief to victims of the conflict and as respect for what was agreed with the [Colombian] government.”
What we hope is that Jiménez upholds his promises and the ceasefire accord. Without bilateral respect for this agreement, Colombia will once again dive into grave pandemonium.