Colombian rebel group FARC over the past week released a number of in-depth proposals to reform the state as part of ongoing peace talks with the government.
In a number of publications on their peace delegation’s website, the rebels propose eleven points of reform that would allow the group to lay down arms and take part in the country’s politics, a theme currently on the negotiation table.
The FARC’s proposals are mainly aimed at the increasing public participation in politics, and include electoral reforms and reform of state institutions.
According to the FARC, the following points should be attended:
- Political participation and the democratic restructuring of the state.
- Citizen participation and the limits of the concentration of public power.
- Citizen involvement and the creation of people’s power.
- The redesigning of the mechanisms for citizen participation.
- Citizen participation and the reform of the decentralization processes.
- Citizen participation and the redesigning of the legal – economic order.
- Citizen participation and the suitability of the military and national police to a state of peace.
- Citizen participation and the democratic reform of the justice system.
- Popular elections for the representatives of enforcement agencies and other public institutions.
- Democratic political and electoral reform.
- Democratic power and electoral reform.
The FARC went into length on each of the above points, with a clear emphasis on a restructuring focused on public participation. The FARC argued that “new institutional designs should eradicate existing corrupt and criminal structures and ensure a transparent and participatory use of resources and budgets to overcome inequality and poverty,” something the rebels stressed earlier when presenting their “minimal proposals.”
Greater public participation in relation to resources and budgets appears essential to the FARC, as they said to seek to limit the concentration of public power and strike a greater balance between the power of government and the power of its citizens.
In an effort to strike such a balance, the rebels said to be keen to create the “people’s power” which can be achieved through councils, community meetings or assemblies in a way that provides a “real material impact on different public affairs.”
The FARC also stressed the need for a directly elected National Council for political and social participation, incorporating the ethnically diverse nature of Colombians.
The guerrilla group stressed the difficulty for political participation with Colombia’s current state mechanisms, claiming that their “restrictive” nature does nothing but impede political participation. In the eyes of the FARC, it is essential that such mechanisms are restructured in a way that allows easier access to politics for Colombian citizens. The process of decentralization is key here. The FARC suggested a restructuring, providing local authorities with easier access to central government.
The size and nature of the Colombian military is also a key issue for the rebel group. Colombias’s active security forces personnel is in excess of 500,000, a startling number when compared to, for example, the UK figure of just over 340,000 while the population of the European monarchy is 34% bigger.
The FARC also argued for a reform of the judicial system, calling a democratic judiciary “the cornerstone of the rule of law.” The rebels stress the need for the judiciary to be an independent branch of government, with the legislative and executive branches removed from interference. To such an end, the proposals state that the Attorney General’s office and the Controller General of the Republic be elected, after a submission of their program proposals and public engagement.
The FARC called the need for these reforms a “matter of urgency” and in response to “corrupt and criminal behavior patterns.” Their focus is on that of public participation but also representation of minority groups and the exclusion of private party interests, as they had already set out in the minimal proposals.
The rebel groups political participation is the second of five negotiating points. An accord on land reform was met last month, yet discussions involving the practicalities of the end of the armed conflict, drug trafficking and the rights of the victims have yet to be discussed.