Colombia’s FARC Deal Will Turn Terrorists Into Legislators: What Could Go Wrong?
EspañolIn surveys on happiness, Colombia almost always appears near the top. Apparently, we suffer very little. One of the keys to happiness is to not worry, to take matters lightly. But it’s also fundamental that matters of importance receive the attention they deserve. Otherwise, a situation can get out of control.
That’s exactly what is happening with the peace deal made between President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The same murderers who committed the most heinous crimes of the last 50 years are going to exchange jail time for Senate seats. Even if they don’t get enough votes, FARC members will still have a seat in Congress guaranteed for two terms. Some apprently prefer to see former FARC members serving in government than killing people in the countryside, but that thinking is limited; it shouldn’t be a decision between one or the other.
And the peace deal hasn’t actually improved the country’s situation. Violence statistics are practically identical to those of 2015 and 2016, though the homicide rate has stagnated over the last two years. In key drug trafficking areas, civilians continue to suffer from extortion by the same groups of people.
So will having former FARC guerrillas legislating make a difference in all of that? Of course not. They will keep representing terrorists like themselves.
The FARC finally got what they were after these last 50 years: power. Do we really expect them to negotiate policy on agriculture, or other seemingly minute and nuanced topics that don’t pertain to their specific ideology? They’re going to focus on their own agenda, and bully the executive branch into getting what they want. The Santos administration has agreed to restructure regulation of the countryside only because the guerrillas believe it isn’t distributed appropriately.
More than 74 million acres of fertile land will go to a “land fund” that will be distributed among those who the government deems deserving. Different criteria will be used, such as evaluating whether land is being utilized well or not — meaning expropriation will be applied when the “social and environmental function” of the land is not fulfilled.
Is this land conflict a minor issue? The FARC, who have no representation whatsoever, who have sown terror into the fabric of the country for decades, are now negotiating the country’s agricultural policy with officials behind closed doors.
Some people with good intentions believe that it’s okay to distribute land to the needy even if it involves expropriation. But such an idea is immoral and harmful to society as a whole.
We can’t fall into cheap sentimentality without basic economic knowledge. Capitalization and private investment are sources of wealth. The countries with the highest standard of living are not those in which wealth and land are redistributed for one group’s benefit. People enjoy greater welfare in places where there is more economic freedom and greater capitalization.
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The fact that the FARC is influencing politics, the economy and the development of the country is no minor issue. And it’s no minor issue that equality before the law will come to an end in Colombia if this continues.
FARC members will not pay for their crimes. We must take into account that the level of violence in a society is related to the degree of impunity it imposes. In places where people know that committing a crime brings consequences, crime rates are lower. In Colombia, with these measures, we are creating incentives for criminals, which in turn increases violence.
It is time for Colombians to start giving this issue the attention it deserves. Santos mocked the country when he decided to ignore the outcome of the referendum. Now he is negotiating the economic and agriculture policy of the country with communist guerrillas and granting them the power to legislate.
We must do what is necessary to undo the Santos-FARC peace agreement.