Monday, October 17, 2016

Colombian-FARC Agreement

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, but lost a national referendum vote on his peace plan.

The disjointed headlines praising the prize but lamenting the loss highlight the difference between aspiration and reality. The desire to bring the 52-year conflict to an end is widespread. But the war left much pain that has not been forgotten.

Possibly the biggest loser was not President Santos or his worldwide supporters, such as the Obama administration, the EU or the Pope, but the Castro brothers. They, along with the late Hugo Chavez, had been major backers of the FARC. Chavez is gone and his successor appears only hanging on due to a military that will at some point decide its interest is without President Maduro.

The Castros, however, are attempting a very difficult transition that preserves the safety and privilege of their family and continuation of their party and system in the face of its basic failure to provide a decent quality of life. Most dangerous for Castros’ future is that Cuba is now in a slow integration with the commercialized and capitalist North.

The Colombian – FARC agreement, which gave up Cuban- and Venezuelan-like socialist goals (never accepted by the public and lost on the battlefield) for broad-based amnesty and the nucleus of a legitimate left-wing party, was negotiated over four years in Cuba and the final agreement signed in Cartagena. Raul Castro put himself front and center clapping at the ceremony.

The voters of Colombia didn’t accept it, at least partially because of the poor image of the Castros and their Cuban fiefdom. The Castros should be nervous that a day may arrive for an up or down vote on continuing their legacy.

President Juan Manuel Santos, front left, and Rodrigo Londono,
the top rebel commander, at a signing ceremony on Oct. 3 in
Cartagena, Colombia. Raul Castro clapping to the right.
Credit: Fernando Vergara/AP

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