In relation to drugs, both the government and FARC would work together to maybe not put an end to Colombia’s ongoing narco war but certainly deal it a blow. FARC has capitalised on the nation’s mass drug production to fund its military operations, but under the new peace terms, the organisation would be part of the solution in ending the nation’s notorious drug trade.
‘Victims’ has been a hot topic in the peace provisions. FARC has declared that it itself is a victim of the systemic oppression from the Colombian government and should therefore be compensated. Amnesty would be given to certain factions of FARC rebels and if its soldiers admitted to crimes, they would be given reduced prison sentences.
So under these four provisions, what would a future Colombia look like?
Let’s fast forward, say, 20 years from now. Certain regions of the country are being autonomously run by the communities. And these communities would be thriving. For years, farmers were driven away from their land due to the war’s battleground being fought in rural areas but now, with the only threat to harvest being bad weather, farmers would return. According to Colombian journalist and social commentator Viviana Torres, with no armed conflict in the area, production would “double” and productivity would “increase significantly”.
However, with widespread corruption plaguing the Colombian government for years now, it’s hard to forecast the transition of land going so accordingly. A 2013 report determined Colombia’s corruption levels as “alarming” while Torres concedes corruption in and outside the government is “quite high” and how this could subsequently “play against" the full devolution of land.
Politically speaking, FARC would maintain it’s position in politics on the back of winning seats in federal elections, rather than being granted them. It may not have overwhelming support but it would have enough of a rural backing to be present. However, to stay alive, both politically and literally, would be another task altogether. The presence of right-wing paramilitary groups in the 80s and 90s ensured that any peace attempts with FARC, or any other extreme-left group, were met with violence and bloodshed. Aida Avella, leader of liberal Colombian party ‘Patriotic Union’, says she “worries” about the resurgence of paramilitary groups, as they are “revitalising”. During FARC’s military operations against the government, the organisation found its safe haven in the Colombian jungles. However, now that they would be present in the political world, they might find themselves to be an easy target for right-wing paramilitaries.
However, while paramilitary groups have shown resistance to the violence that Marxist groups have committed in the past, it seems the general public has taken a less hostile view.
The ‘Palace of Justice Siege’ in 1985, which saw more than 100 people killed at the hands of communist guerrilla group M-19, didn’t have adverse effects for its leaders. In fact, the opposite. Antonio Navarro Wolff, one of the figureheads of the operation, went on to become a successful politician, even running for President at one occasion while another member, Gustavo Petro, went on to become mayor of none other than the nation’s capital, Bogotá. It’s because of this that Viviana Torres, asks “is it so unreasonable that ’Timochenko’ becomes President of Colombia? Why not?” It may not be out of the realms of possibility.
Drug production is down… but not out. FARC’s collaboration with the government would manage to hurt drug production in the short-term but according to senior editor of The Atlantic, J. Weston Phippen, it would provide opportunistic criminals a chance to thrive. “When FARC drops its weapons, it will leave behind a desirable void, a vacuum of control worth billions”, says Phippen. Yet it’s not just the big fish that profit from the drug trade.
“Convincing farmers to grow bananas instead of coca is an entirely different battle. Those who’ve tried to make the switch often find they earn one-third of what they did growing coca.” Put simply, cocaine production is just too profitable of an opportunity to pass up; a staunch reminder that the nation’s drug trade is much bigger than any one organisation.
While Colombia’s future appears it will remain steeped in the drug trade, how the ‘victims’ agreement will play out is less than clear. FARC rebels would reintegrate into society, with the assistance of UN personnel, yet the transition wouldn’t be so smooth. The aforementioned rise of right-wing paramilitaries could potentially play a part and target rebels, but to what extent is very difficult to tell. Rebels would be brought before hearings to talk about their role in the war, giving civilians directly or indirectly involved closure and a nation the proper understanding of what had gone on in the 52-year conflict.
Before the referendum, Colombia look poised to be a country at peace. As one native put it, the nation deserves peace; there can be no other way. Even though the vote went against a peace resolution, there is still little doubt that Colombians want to reach peace, but at what cost will it take to get it?