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Colombia: The Elections and Peace

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

1 June 2018

The second round of presidential elections in Colombia lays bare the reality of the country, its ruling class and the reality of the discourse on peace that they have sold us for years.  It also lays bare the reality of the left and its attempts to save what remains of a process that has already achieved all that the elites of the country needed.

We are going into a second round with two choices, Petro, a very much ex, former guerrilla and Duque the political child of Uribe.  The contest is presented by some as a dispute between those who want peace and those who want war.  However, the reality of the statements of sectarian groups like the MOIR, neoliberals such as Fajardo and the government’s chief negotiator and the man who in a manner of speaking is the architect of the peace agreement signed with the FARC, Humberto de La Calle, tell a different tale.

Nothing more is to be expected from an ex-maoist sect like the MOIR, where the Great Helmsman, Robledo knows best and his personal interests are put above all else.  The MOIR believes in the virtues of what it terms the national bourgeoisie, so it is not that frightened by an openly criminal faction of that bourgeoisie gaining power.  What is most important for them is that the MOIR hold sway on the left.  The attitude of Fajardo and Humberto de La Calle is more interesting and telling.

Four years ago, the left, particularly the Polo called for a vote for Santos in the second round, arguing that it was necessary to support that section of the oligarchy that wanted peace.  So they did, and Santos won, and his champion of peace, Humberto de La Calle, carried on with the task entrusted to him of demobilising the FARC and achieving what was euphemistically called peace and the end of the conflict.  Now, four years later, we find ourselves faced with another possible victory of an Uribista candidate, the child Duque.  If the supposed peace and end of the conflict were that important and if they were real, the bourgeoisie would support Petro, the peace candidate, whose most radical proposals don’t go beyond social democratic or even liberal bourgeois proposals.

However, that is not the case.  Fajardo, the neoliberal has called for a blank vote, a figure which has no legal effect in the second round, it only applies to elections to Congress and the first round.  The kinship of Fajardo with Uribe’s wife, is of no importance, the oligarchy and the new rising bourgeoisie, be it the “modernising”, traditional or narco section, is very incestuous, classist and racist.  But Humberto de La Calle is the architect of the peace accord, the government’s negotiator, who in his public statements, guaranteed from the beginning that they would not touch the economic model in the peace agreement.  He kept his word and the agreement does not touch in the slightest the economic structure of the country, not agriculture nor the mining locomotive nor policy on social equity.  There was not even a tame reform of the health system that kills so many people each year (more than the war).  The peace they preached to us was not that important, what was important was that the FARC accepted the legitimacy of the state, they obeyed and defended the Political Constitution of Colombia, the legislation and the established social order.  They did all of that.  Nowadays, the FARC is a party that is more lukewarm in its proposals than Petro, a lot more.  The armed threat from the FARC has ended, the threat to the capitalist system that their demands represented has also finished.  This is the reality of all peace processes and now that most important things have been achieved, the couldn’t care less about the actual accord and they are willing to risk it putting down the FARC dissidents and the ELN.

There is no other way to explain the decision of Humberto de La Calle to cast a blank vote this coming June 17th.  Or maybe some NGO, social democrat or peacenik has some other explanation. I doubt it.

The Petro Alternative

There is no doubt that Petro is longer the M-19 guerrilla, not just because he is no longer armed, but because he no longer aims to chalenge the power of the oligarchy.  Petro has publicly denounced the fraud of the first round, but has resigned himself to trusting the institutions, such as the prosecutor’s office which has already stated there was indeed fraud, but will not name neither who nor how (as if we didn’t already know) nor take proceedings against them until after the second round when it will be too late.  Petro’s response should have been in the street, but the reality is that just like Humberto, he has no intentions of touching the model.  Instead of declaring a rupture with the corrupt system, he continues to the only one playing a clean game in the midst of the electoral quagmire.  However, as with all politicians his immediate reaction to the results of the first round was to try and negotiate agreements behind closed doors with Fajardo, Claudia López and the Greens.  So, should he lose through fraud on June 17th, we cannot expect an opposition outside of the institutions, i.e. we cannot expect a real opposition.

On June 17th the peace agreement is not at stake, if it were, the most vocal supporter of Petro, would be Humberto de La Calle. What is at stake is the old dream of Pablo Escobar, the reconfiguration of the Colombian oligarchy.  On the 17th it will be decided whether the narco-bourgeoisie comes through the front door to form part of that oligarchy, with the support of the Liberal and Conservative Parties.  It will be decided whether a criminal oligarchy finally accepts in its bosom the thugs, murderers and torturers who carried out their dirty work for so long.  The hitmen formally become part, in their own right, of the Cosa Nostra that has governed the country for 200 years.

Without a doubt, it will be a more openly criminal regime, more retrograde and if necessary it will be bloodier when it comes to putting down the peasants, indigenous, black communities and the working class, should it be required.  This is what is in play, the peace agreement is not, it has already fulfilled its role.  If Petro wins, the repression will continue, whether he wants it or not, unless his voters exercise a real opposition to the system, unless they decide to touch the model that has sustained a criminal class for 200 years and now seeks to reward its thugs.

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