From Carlos Castaño to Jesús Santrich: The Problem with Colombia’s “Peace”

The liberation of FARC leader Jesus Santrich, despite a mountain of evidence against him, is yet a further example of the folly of Colombia's so-called "peace process."

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Colombia’s agreement between the FARC and former President Santos has brought neither peace nor justice (PanAm Post).

For some, so-called “peace” is a justification for everything…even death. Peace is the whore that is brought to the forefront when it is necessary to justify acts as repugnant as those that occur in war.

In Colombia, peace has now lost its meaning. Being a victim has lost its meaning. Justice has lost its meaning. And being a murderer, now is, for some, an example to follow. Now, in the name of peace Colombia is subject to frivolous praise for the likes of Doris Salcedo; empty pronouncements, like those of Timochenko and Iván Márquez; marches, such as those led by the FARC, and the Communist Party, among others. Sentences are issued that represent real threats to Colombia’s institutions; institutions which could, in reality, achieve peace in the nation. Now we ask for the resurgence of murderers as cruel as Carlos Castaño to bring “order” to the country.

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It turns out that, in the name of peace, murders, massacres, rapes, human trafficking, kidnappings, forced disappearances (among many other crimes committed by members of the FARC) must go unpunished. We are now asked to forget the past to reach a state of peace that will be unattainable if it is paid for in blood.

We are full of memories of the past, because it is this that shapes us as human beings. That is why they can not pretend that we will forget the unforgettable and that we forgive the unforgivable. They can not pretend that those who gave the order to chop off heads and throw gas cylinders at churches full of people, now walk the streets of the country as if they had built a nation full of love and hope.

Peace is not worth everything, nor the impunity of the guerrilla leaders of the FARC, who ordered the murder of thousands of people (because no member of the FARC secretariat arrived there without the stains of blood and coca paste on their hands); we can not consider as role models people like Carlos Castaño, who did not see any problem in eliminating anyone he considered disposable.

Today in Colombia, the JEP (Special Judicial Entity for Peace) pronouncement on the Santrich case is celebrated by some, and the name of Carlos Castaño trends on social media. Is this not a symptom that reveals that part of the country is sick? Does this not reveal that there is a complete incoherence between the arguments that are used to justify the erroneous actions that supposedly lead to peace, as some want to do?

Many of those who condemned the presence of AUC leaders in Congress 14 years ago were the same ones who years ago allowed assassins against humanity to be sworn in as Colombian Congressmen. Many of those who today criticize the presence of assassins in the Colombian Congress are those who today invoke the name of Castaño as an example to follow.

What is the difference between a murderer working for the FARC and a murderer working for the AUC? None. The penalty before the law must be the same for both. And, mainly, society should feel equal repulsion towards them both.

Whoever excuses the blood shed by one of these two groups, or who views these murderers as redeemed, because their leaders are now supposedly seeking peace, is deeply ignorant and continues to go through the lyrical age, as Kundera calls the stupid youth, or it is deeply cruel and selfish. Unfortunately, I think that those who look at the victims and ask them, almost demanding them, forgiveness and forgetfulness, are more submerged in cruelty than in ignorance.

To celebrate the liberation of a murderer, as is Santrich, and invoke the name of a murderer, as was Castaño, is just as disgusting as celebrating the freedom of Luis Alfredo Garavito or invoking Hitler as an ethical frame of reference.

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