Spanish – Ivan Marquez, Jesus Santrich, and “El Paisa,” the critical leaders of FARC came out in a video and declared that they have taken up arms; there is no peace in Colombia, and they will continue to commit crimes. But the news is not bad for the country. At least now everyone knows the truth. It is time that criminals clarify their reality to Colombians who continue to be in a state of denial and those who intentionally insist – for monetary gain – that the Havana agreement was a success.
The published opinion is different from public opinion. What most Colombians think is one thing, and what many journalists say in the mainstream media is another. The facts show that the Havana agreement served only to put ten guerillas in Congress. Further, it convinced a portion of the population of the absurd idea that violence is not the fault of the one brandishing the rifle, but of the “far-right.” However, president Ivan Duque found it very difficult to confront the guerillas directly while the media was saying that Colombia is at peace.
Many journalists will continue to amplify the message that Marquez conveyed in the video: “they returned to arms because the government failed to comply with the agreements,” but there is no longer a reasonable way to deny that the FARC is still the same as always and has the same ringleaders. They continue to kill and commit crimes.
Now the ball is in the president’s court. The guerillas have already made their move by coming out and declaring that they are still a terrorist group. Duque has to decide if he wants to be remembered in history as the president who let FARC take over the country or whether he wants to make a place for himself next to Alvaro Uribe Velez and be remembered in historical records like the one who stopped the destruction of Colombia.
It is unfair that we even have to remind the president of this. A few years later, no one is going to say, “the Supreme Court released Santrich and let him return to the forest to commit crimes” or “the Special Jurisdiction for Peace allowed those who raped minors to have a seat to write the laws of the country.” The world will say Ivan Duque let Santrich, Marquez, and the other FARC members free, humiliate all Colombians by sitting in Congress, and they go about their business without anyone confronting them.
The events of the near future will not be easy. Alvaro Uribe Velez had to face many challenges when he took oath as president with the promise to combat the guerillas who were about to be taken to the nation’s capital. FARC has all the hectares of coca and the money that it brings along with representation in Congress. Today, FARC announced its new strategy: a plan of terror that can be confronted only by an iron-willed person.
“Unlike the phoenix, this insurgency does not rise from the ashes to continue operating in the depths of the remote jungle. The target is not the soldier or the police, the officer, or the non-commissioned officer respectful of popular interests; it will be the oligarchy,” Marquez said in this week’s speech.
The implication is that FARC will no longer focus on the war in the mountains; they now threaten the civilian population.
What is the oligarchy for the FARC? They talk about business owners and people with social recognition, but also about the ordinary people who go to the Andino shopping mall in Bogota and have lunch in a good restaurant. Broadly, they talk about urban terrorism, an issue on which the ELN is an expert, and it is no coincidence that Marquez says that now the FARC will work together with the other guerrilla group.
FARC’s objective is to jeopardize everyone’s sense of safety. They want people in cities to be afraid of being out in the streets. FARC wants to overthrow Duque and ensure that the left comes to power. They get the help of journalists and opinion writers who will insist that the deaths are not the fault of the murderers but of those who refuse to kneel.
In his speech, Marquez says that the only way to “build peace on these gloomy ruins” is with the “installation of a new government in the palace of Nariño.”
How is President Duque going to react if the FARC fulfills its threats and engages in urban terrorism? How is he going to handle popular discontent and the opinion of journalists saying that what is happening is his fault for not “complying with agreements.” If he becomes complacent, if he retreats, he will have lost.
FARC’s strategy of causing terror in the cities and thus increasing discontent with the president is accompanied by weakening the economy by attacking investment, threatening business owners.
Marquez said that “the only valid taxation would be the one working to finance the revolution – the one applied to the illegal economies and the multinationals that plunder our wealth.”
Concerning the Colombian businessmen, they assure that “they will prioritize dialogue to seek their contribution to the progress of rural and urban communities.”
The president must prepare for what is to come. FARC criminals are clear that they want to weaken the economy, generate fear and social discontent, and take advantage of the already popular discourse that the guerrillas are still alive because of the right.
The guerillas have given a clear signal that they are not going to stop until they hold power. There are only two options: to fight them or hand over power to them and starve under socialism.
This does not mean that you cannot negotiate with those who want to surrender, nor does it mean that you have to attack those who have already laid down their arms, and it does not mean that you have to refuse, for example, a transitional justice system to prosecute former guerrillas. All this is possible, but we must do it in the right way, without humiliating ourselves, and without handing over the country.
It’s not easy, but it can be done. We already did it once. The FARC that Juan Manuel Santos faced, after two periods of Uribe’s democratic security, was a residual and completely weakened group. President Duque must muster the courage. The majority of Colombians will support him and thank him, just as we continue to thank Uribe for what he did at the time.