I came across another Reuters article that needs some facts to add missing context. This one is about about Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos’ willingness to hold a public referendum on any peace deal his administration makes with the rebel FARC guerrillas. The article states
The drug funded group [FARC]…has fought successive governments since 1964 and killed tens of thousands.”
It is important to note that Colombian paramilitaries also played a major role in the conflict, committing gross acts of inhumanity with the backing of the state and also made a significant amount of money through drug money. Despite their demobilization deal with the state in 2003, Human Rights Watch reports that there have been successor groups that “engage in drug trafficking” and “commit widespread abuses against civilians, including massacres, killings, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, threats, and forced displacement.” HRW reports concerns of “ongoing infiltration of the political system by paramilitaries and their successor groups.” Perhaps the situation has improved in the past decade since in 2001 HRW put out a report stating paramilitary “groups are responsible for most human rights violations, including massacres and forced displacement…Colombian army brigades and police work with and even profit from paramilitaries, treating them as a force allied with their own.” The FARC are not nice guys, but it is not as if the state is on the side of the angels.
Reuters leaves out something absolutely critical when they state,
Santos has ruled out discussing major changes to Colombia’s economic or political model, saying that if the guerrillas want to modify the system, they should run for election. More than 20 years ago, Colombia held a nationwide assembly to rewrite the 1886 constitution. Demobilized rebels from smaller groups participated, but not the FARC or the National Liberation Army, another left-wing group.”
This makes it seem as if the FARC has been hesitant to pursue a political path and leaves out why they may want constitutional guarantees. The FARC faced a major assassination campaign when they did pursue this path in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
FACT: A 1987 article by the Christian Science Monitor reported,
The country’s oldest and largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), created the Patriotic Union to run candidates in last year’s congressional and presidential elections. Since then, four of 14 UP congressmen have been killed. Authorities have jailed no suspects in any of the killings. But a report last month by Amnesty International accused security forces and their civilian accomplices of murdering more than 1,000 people.”
FACT: A 2007 Amnesty International report stated that “Since the UP [Patriotic Union] was founded in 1985, more than 3,000 UP members have been killed or been victims of enforced disappearances, the vast majority carried out by the security forces and paramilitaries.”
I think this context is important, especially since Reuters notes that the FARC did not participate in the rewriting of the constitution. Any guesses as to why?