The presidential candidate of demobilized FARC guerrillas this week made an emergency call to save Colombia’s peace process. Is the situation really that bad or has the former guerrilla chief become a clever politician?
“I was to sincerely launch an SOS for the peace process … to the international community and all alive forces in Colombia,” said Rodrigo Londoño, a.k.a. “Timochenko” on Wednesday.
The implementation of the peace deal with the FARC guerrillas has run into serious problems. The government has failed to implement a number of key elements of the deal while there has been an alarming increase of social leaders in the country.
According to Londoño, the peace process has not been “as difficult and complex” as it is today. The government has “betrayed” the FARC’s “good faith., he said.”
But according to Kyle Johnson, the senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, the “alarming rhetoric” from the FARC leader could be an electoral move.
“No, I don’t think there will be a collapse at all,” Johnson told Colombia Reports on Thursday.
The analyst has been moving from Bogota to the countryside and back ever since peace was signed in December 2016. According to him, Londoño’s emergency press conference “was a very electoral speech.”
“On the ground, things are moving slowly but they’re starting to make some progress in areas despite all the problems,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the speech was a way to angle Bogota into moving the peace process along quicker, ahead of a busy election period.
“I think part of Timochenko’s discourse has to do with trying to pressure the government to get things to move forward more, not only for FARC’s own political game but also because of the elections coming up,” said Johnson.
Londoño outlined how “small but powerful forces,” particularly the hard-right former President Alvaro Uribe, were out to disrupt the peace process.
Uribe was long the FARC’s leading enemy on the battlefield. Now the former president is Timochenko’s most powerful enemy in politics.
Johnson confirmed that the peace process with the FARC has had it’s major challenges.
The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos has been painstakingly slow in providing reintegration programs that allowed the former guerrillas to reincorporate.
According to the ICG analyst, some 1,200 FARC guerrillas have since abandoned the process. Hundreds are expected to have joined dissident groups.
This, however, was anticipated.
What also was anticipated was that the FARC was not going to do well in the elections held immediately after decades of war.
Notwithstanding, Londoño said in his press conference he would “continue fighting” for the FARC, but this time in a contested presidential race.