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The New Colombia Peace Agreement and the December Public Forum Resolution

December 1, 2016
Published in Newsletter

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Introduction

As I wrote in my essay and discussed in my lecture, Colombia entered into a peace agreement with the FARC rebels late this summer but the agreement was rejected by Colombia’s voters. A new peace agreement between the Colombia guerillas and the government has been reached. The Parliament has ratified the agreement and a public vote is no longer needed.

Mark Katkov, December 1, 2016, NPR, Colombia’s Congress ratifies second peace deal with Marxist rebels, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/01/503950505/colombias-congress-ratifies-second-peace-deal-with-marxist-rebels

Two months after Colombian voters narrowly rejected a peace deal with the Marxist rebel group FARC, the nation’s Congress has ratified a renegotiated agreement. If implemented, it will bring to an end a more than half-century guerrilla war that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced an estimated eight million. Reporter John Otis in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, tells our Newscast unit: Colombia’s Congress approved a modified peace treaty on Wednesday night by a 130 to zero margin. Although tougher on the rebels than the original accord, opposition lawmakers staged a walk-out to protest provisions that will allow guerrillas accused of war crimes to avoid prison. The 6,000-strong rebel group known as the FARC will now start gathering in special zones around the country where they will have 150 days to turn in their weapons to U.N. inspectors. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and top rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timochenko, signed the first peace accord to great fanfare last September in the resort city of Cartagena. The accord was submitted to voters in a national referendum and rejected by a slim margin. Opponents argued the agreement did not hold to account FARC — an acronym for the Spanish name of the group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — for its decades of terrorism, drug trafficking and plunder. Days after the agreement’s stunning rejection by Colombia’s voters, Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the war. Santos renegotiated the agreement and bypassed voters by submitting it to Congress for approval. The Associated Press reports: The new 310-page accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia introduced 50 changes to the initial deal in an attempt to assuage opponents… The modifications include a prohibition on foreign magistrates judging alleged crimes by government or FARC troops, and a commitment from the rebels to forfeit assets, some amassed through drug trafficking, to help compensate victims. But the FARC rejected demands for jail sentences for rebel leaders responsible for atrocities and stricter limits on their future participation in politics. Otis reports Congress must approve further legislation to implement the peace accord: The Colombian Congress is expected to pass an amnesty bill that will allow rank-and-file guerrillas to return to civilian life. Rebel commanders accused of war crimes will go before special tribunals and could be sentenced to up to eight years of community service. The FARC’s long-term goal is to form a left-wing political party and to take part in elections starting in 2018.

The agreement commits FARC to stand-down, but they have just begun to do so. Now is a critical time, as FARC must start to stand-down over the next six months. Now is a fragile time

Reuters, November 30, 2016, Colombia’s Congress ratifies peace deal with FARC rebels, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/colombia-s-congress-ratifies-peace-deal-farc-rebels-n690501

Colombia’s Congress approved a new peace deal with FARC rebels late on Wednesday, despite objections from former President and now Senator Alvaro Uribe, who said it was still too lenient on the insurgents who have battled the government for 52 years. The agreement was approved in the lower house by 130-0, a day after the Senate ratified it 75-0. Lawmakers from Uribe’s Democratic Center party left the floors of both houses in protest just before voting began. The ratification — and signing last week — begins a six-month countdown for the 7,000-strong FARC, which started as a rebellion fighting rural poverty, to abandon weapons and form a political party. President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Rodrigo Londono signed the revised accord last week in a sober ceremony after the first deal was rejected in a national plebiscite. Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for his peace efforts, wants to get the deal implemented as quickly as possible to maintain a fragile ceasefire. Uribe’s supporters argued the deal offered too many concessions to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and did not serve as a deterrent for other groups involved in crime. “Let’s not forget what we are doing today, we’re trying to end more than 50 years of war,” government negotiator Sergio Jaramillo said. The new agreement to end Latin America’s longest insurgency was put together in just over a month after the original pact — which allowed the rebels to hold public office and skip jail — was narrowly and unexpectedly defeated in an Oct. 2 referendum.

What does this mean for the topic?

In the essay and in the lecture I referenced evidence you can use to make the argument that cutting aid to Colombia right now will undermine the agreement by making FARC less likely to comply because they think the government will be weak, but arguing that government weakness triggered by a loss of aid will make them less willing to adopt (now implement) the agreement, and that without the aid and the strengthening of governance that it will be harder to integrate FARC as a political party (not the last line of the first card). This is magnified by the fact that the Pro is arguing the aid should be cut-off literally days after the agreement was approved and ratified by the government and there is evidence below that the government needs money to implement the deal In fact, it seems it would devastate US-Colombia relations.

Some Pro teams may argue the agreement is set in stone and cannot be changed, but spoilers could still reverse the agreement

The Conversation, December 1, 2016, Colombia has a new peace agreement, but will it stick? http://theconversation.com/colombia-has-a-new-peace-agreement-but-will-it-stick-69535

When, after four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas, the September 26 peace agreement was rejected by plebiscite, many feared that the promise of peace was lost for good. But the government has eked out a second, renegotiated accord that was passed by the Senate in a marathon 13-hour session on November 29th. Now the country appears poised to finally end its 52-year civil war – if political spoilers allow. President Juan Manuel Santos’ September agreement with the FARC was derailed by a successful disinformation campaign that accused him of surrendering Colombia to the guerrillas and turning it into a communist country. Led by right-wing former president Alvaro Uribe, the opposition felt that the peace process had marginalised their agenda, which envisioned peace as the victor’s triumph rather than a compromise between factions. Santos’ low approval rating compounded the issue, as did the dense 297-page document, which citizens struggled to understand and verify. The government used the rejection and resulting renegotiation period to broaden public support for peace and address the concerns of those wary of the agreement. This bodes well for Colombia’s new accord. So, too, does the fact that Uribe’s camp participated in the renegotiation, though the Uribistas nonetheless left the Senate during the approval vote. The new agreement incorporates several changes that signal key compromises from both the FARC and the government.

The Uribistas are eager for an opportunity to undermine the government

The Conversation, December 1, 2016, Colombia has a new peace agreement, but will it stick? http://theconversation.com/colombia-has-a-new-peace-agreement-but-will-it-stick-69535

Still, the Uribistas remain opposed to the accord, for reasons that remain vague. Several prominent opponents, including former presidential candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga and former attorney general Alejandro Ordoñez, have proposed a referendum to dissolve Congress and reelect it from scratch. This extreme action would effectively disable the government from approving or implementing any accord. Such recalcitrance has the feel of politicking. With parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in 2017 and 2018 respectively, many accuse the Uribistas of hijacking peace to support future campaigns. Indeed, both Zuluaga and Ordoñez are already seen as pre-candidates for the presidency. And so, half a century since its civil war began and two months since the rejection of peace at plebiscite, Colombia keeps striving for a more peaceful future. In its human hopes, political setbacks and halting progress, it is a textbook example of a country transitioning from armed conflict, showing how peace can take root – or fail to – when a country fights against itself using the weapons both of war and of democracy.

And a current lack of implementing legislation increases the fragility

Associated Press, December 1, 2016, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/01/colombias-government-formally-ratifies-revised-farc-peace-deal

Santos said ratification would set in motion the start of a six-month process in which the Farc’s 8,000-plus guerrillas will concentrate in some 20 rural areas and turn over their weapons to United Nations monitors. “Tomorrow a new era begins,” he said on Wednesday. But the rebels insist their troops won’t start demobilising until politicians pass an amnesty law freeing some 2,000 rebels in jail. “D-Day starts after the first actions are implemented,” the rebel leader Pastor Alape, part of the Farc’s 10-member secretariat, said last week after the new accord was signed. “The president unfortunately has been demonstrating an attitude that creates confusion in the country.” The debate over amnesty highlights one of the peace deal’s early challenges: the need for congress to pass legislation implementing the accord and setting up special peace tribunals. Santos was initially counting on swift approval of the needed changes that in some cases require constitutional amendments. But the referendum loss has left the status of his fast-track authority in doubt, awaiting a ruling by the constitutional court. Experts say a solid pro-peace coalition could crumble if implementation drags on and butts against the political manoeuvring for the 2018 presidential election.

Pro teams should argue that if the government perceives itself as being abandoned by the US that it won’t pass the implementing legislation, as it will fear for its own security.

Moreover, part of the implementing legislation includes the government setting up transitional justice tribunals.
Chris Kraul, November 30, 2016, LA Times, Colombian Congress passes amended peace deal to end decades of civil war, http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-colombia-peace-deal-20161130-story.html

Among the enabling laws to be passed are those needed to set up transitional justice tribunals, restitution procedures and land reform.

There is evidence in the file that these are supported by the aid package and that money is critical to implementing the deal. The loss of aid could be devastating

Chris Kraul, November 30, 2016, LA Times, Colombian Congress passes amended peace deal to end decades of civil war, http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-colombia-peace-deal-20161130-story.html

A cease-fire has been in effect since July 2015, but observers fear it may not hold if implementation bogs down. About 300 United Nations monitors are in Colombia and prepared to oversee the relocation of rebels and their disarmament. They will collect and store the rebels’ weapons in locked cargo containers until the accord is fully implemented. Isacson said passage of the deal could raise the curtain on a new era of peace. Conversely, the political divisions in Colombian society could make it difficult for Santos to get the billions of dollars in funding he needs to implement the deal.A perennial worry is whether the Colombian government has the ability to implement this accord, [a concern that is] compounded by the lack of money right now,” Isacson said, referring to recent budget shortfalls caused by the decline in export revenues from coal and oil.

Some answers –

Peace agreement won’t stop the violence

Associated Press, December 1, 2016, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/01/colombias-government-formally-ratifies-revised-farc-peace-deal

There is also a risk that peace could trigger more bloodshed, as it did following a previous peace process with the Farc in the 1980s. At that time, thousands of former guerrillas, labour activists and communist militants were killed by rightwing militias, sometimes in collaboration with state agents. Worries about new bloodshed, although less prevalent than in the darker days of Colombia’s half-century conflict, have become more urgent, with more than a dozen human rights defenders and land activists in areas dominated by the Farc having been killed by unknown assailants since the initial signing ceremony in September. So far this year, 70 have been killed, according to Bogotá-based We Are Defenders, more than in all of 2015 and 2014.

Drug trafficking means no solvency

Andrew Willis, 12-1-16, Colombia approves revised FARC peace deal, triggering disarmament, http://www.smh.com.au/world/colombia-approves-revised-farc-peace-deal-triggering-disarmament-20161201-gt1oqd.html

The region’s longest-running conflict killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions. An end to the war with FARC is, however, unlikely to end violence in Colombia as the lucrative cocaine business has given rise to criminal gangs and traffickers.

 

 

 

 

 

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