I’m a big fan of peace. Consequently, I’m a big fan of the fact that the Colombian government and rebel group FARC have decided to resolve their issues through negotiations rather than trying to exterminate the opponent. However, a lot of my friends disagree with me.
In fact, half the Colombian population disagrees with me. They have no confidence in the talks and – under the opposition leadership of former President Alvaro Uribe – they have consistently demanded these talks to end or at least the conditions be renegotiated.
This has caused both the government and the FARC to dub them “enemies of peace” rather than “critics of these specific talks” what they are.
And this pisses me off, because my friends are good people.
When I was in favor of peace talks before the talks were held, or when I was critical of Uribe’s political responsibility for the killing of at least 4,000 civilians, my opinion was generally discarded as that of a “useful idiot.”
The former administration coined that term to describe those not supporting the war.
Because of my refusal to take sides and because of my then-critical approach, I was a fool waiting to be taken advantage of by evil forces.
Supposedly, I was so gullible about the satanic nature of the FARC that I was effectively helping terrorists by not being in favor of killing those so-called terrorists.
The tables have turned now and I am officially no longer a useful idiot. My opinion is now considered moderate and fashionable. Both the FARC and the government talk to me in the friendliest manner, possibly because I support their current cause. Or maybe I’m just a really nice guy.
However, the tables have turned also for my friends. While they felt represented when Uribe was in power, they have now become a minority and the same thing is being done to them as previously done to me, they are stigmatized and marginalized, and their legitimate concerns and arguments are excluded from the debate.
But rather than calling them useful idiots they are now dubbed “enemies of peace” which in my opinion has an even more negative connotation. You can’t really help being an idiot, but being an ally or an enemy is a choice.
Just like my arguments against the policies of Uribe were legitimate, my friends’ arguments opposing the current peace talks are too.
My friends have different opinions than mine, but they are not my enemy. In fact, they are the enemy of no-one. They are concerned citizens with not enough faith in the parties involved in the negotiations. My friends simply are not convinced that these talks are the best thing for Colombia. For all I know they might just as well be right.
I still have to meet the first Colombian who trusts the government. Now, why would that be?
Could it be that they get suspicious when President Juan Manuel Santos, the person selling us peace, as defense minister was politically responsible for the extrajudicial executions to the same extent Uribe is? Doesn’t that make him a proven enemy of peace if not a war criminal?
And what about the FARC? Are the rebels really in the position to call anyone an enemy of peace when it was in part them who have been perpetuating death and suffering for 50 years, kidnapping and killing civilians, planting landmines, committing dozens of terrorists attacks and raping and killing thousands?
It’s rather cynical that the killers get to call the peaceful “enemies of peace,” isn’t it? The most violent act ever carried out by my friends was not voting for the current president.
So, rather than the killers calling the peaceful “enemies of peace”, I would much rather see those who did resort to violence admit that the government and the FARC are the enemies of peace in Colombia, and always have been.
Rather than demonizing those who don’t believe the word of the same people who killed their families, I would like my friends to be treated with more sensitivity. It is vital that they are listened to, rather than being called names.
It is the critics who are going to recognize fraud, it is them who are going to highlight possible imperfections or blatant corruption in the deal.
Moreover, they are the ones who eventually are going to make Colombia a land of peace. They always have. The government and the FARC have yet to prove their commitment to peace and the Colombian people.
This editorial was first published in the print version of The Bogota Post