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Colombia Debates Shortcut Into Congress for FARC Leaders

By: Julián Villabona Galarza - Jul 26, 2016, 5:07 pm
Ariel Ávila es el representante de Ideas para la Paz, fundación que propone el ingreso de Farc al Congreso (YouTube)
Representative Ariel Ávila proposed a “Congress as prison” punishment that has caused controversy. (YouTube)

EspañolAccording to the National Consulting Center, 78 percent of Colombians agree with the idea of FARC giving up their arms and entering politics.

However, 74.3 percent said they would not vote for the guerillas, which may harm the group’s aspirations to run for office.

The Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, which is known for its close relationship with FARC, sent a proposal to Havana, Cuba urging negotiators to consider the benefits of letting FARC members run for office as well as for lowering their prison sentences.

The Proposal

The proposal consisted of allowing the time that guerrillas have been negotiating in Havana — four years — to be counted toward their prisoner sentences.

“This same logic was established in point two, article 78 of the Treaty of Rome,” the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation document read. “It stipulates that the court may pay any other period of detention fulfilled in relation to it constituent conduct to the crime.”

 

Additionally, the document proposed a “Congress as jail” option, which consists of the guerillas entering politics without the requirement to win elections from the moment of demobilization — meaning their time in politics would count toward what would otherwise be a prison sentence.

“The idea is that the guerilla leaders attend congress in the morning and spend their nights in special detention centers,” Prosecutor for the International Penal Court Luis Moreno said.

This proposal would mean FARC could obtain 17 seats in the lower House of Representatives, which could be the most in Colombia’s parliament. These seats could also be given without a popular vote, which has some officials worried.

Rejecting the “Congress as prison” proposal

The possibility of FARC entering Congress without a single vote and the idea of that time counting toward their punishment has generated a lot of rejection from various sides of the political world, including congressmen.

“At first I liked the proposal,” said Senator Armando Benedetti. “But it’s premature because first we need to know if the peace discussion will be ratified and that they will be implemented by Congress. We can’t push forward an idea like this without knowing how it will be legally made a reality.”

“We have to wait for the accords in Havana to come to completion,” said President of Congress Mauricio Lizcano. “Then we will decide, because then we will know when, how and where FARC will participate in politics.”

Also, the proposal has not been well received by the guerilla members themselves, though many claim it would benefit them considerably.

Representative Edward Rodríguez, of the Center Democratic Party, said he was hoping the proposal had been made by Peace and Reconciliation member Ariel Ávila, and not through FARC.

“I doubt Mr. Ávila is running an errand for FARC,” he said. “One must question whether this proposal is its own initiative or was started by FARC itself and if the guerillas are utilizing civil society then it would be very dmagaing to Congress’ image.

Source: El Espectador, RCN Radio

Julián Villabona Galarza Julián Villabona Galarza

Julián is a reporter with the PanAm Post with studies in Politics and International Relations from the University Sergio Arboleda in Colombia. Follow him: @julianvillabona.