Colombia bumps on way to full peace with rebels
Part II: Inequality lies behind 5 decades of bloodshed
In the past 5 decades, the armed conflicts between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have left 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and nearly 7 million displaced, according to official figures.
(Soundbite) Antonio Caballero, Colombian Political Analyst
“Colombia’s biggest challenge is the deep inequality which dictates social relations, between the rich and poor, between those who own many things and those who own nothing, and between distinct national and regional oligarchies and small, local oligarchies. This has kept the war going for over 50 years.”
Colombia’s bloody confrontation started in the 1960s as a rural uprising for land rights and spawned the FARC, which once grew to a 17,000 strong force operating across vast swaths of territory.
(Soundbite) Alirio Uribe, Colombian Chamber Deputy
“I am part of the peace commission in the Chamber, and we will be carrying a political and social campaign for all of Colombia to begin down a new road. This will lead to nobody returning to use weapons for political aims, either on the left, the center or the right. We want a normal country, without FARC, ELN, paramilitaries or criminal gangs, where the army and the police are purged and do not violate human rights.”
To make things worse, kidnapping and involvement in cocaine industry have helped bankroll the rebel group, which outlived all other major uprisings in Latin America.
(Soundbite) Victor Manuel Batidez, Colombian Citizen
“We are convinced that our society will back what is an absolute right, what is humans demand and what is want of peace. Beyond that lies barbarity, a return to the Middle Ages, and a very difficult situation. Voting “No” would be a declaration of war by those who do not go to war and who send their sons to war. It is an absurd position. I believe the people will be massively in support of a path toward a new country built from these agreements.”
While the FARC is pacified, the second largest leftist rebel group of Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN) is yet to be settled. With both para-military groups going into peace, this South American country and its people can eventually enjoy a final peace. ■