Editor’s note: Humberto de la Calle was, as minister, the spokesman for the Government of Colombia in the Constitutional Assembly that issued the 1991 Constitution. He presided over the deliberations that led to the approval of the Inter-American Democratic Charter at the OAS. He was elected vice president of Colombia and has been a university professor and author of several books and essays. He chaired the government delegation in the peace talks with the FARC guerrillas. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at cnne.com/opinion
(CNN Spanish) – After negotiating peace for Colombia for many years at the Havana Mesa, “Jesús Santrich” betrayed the agreement, betrayed his movement and betrayed himself. Indeed, his invitation to resume the path of war was an anachronistic manifestation, contrary to the national interest of Colombia and, already irrefutable, wrong.
What were the reasons for this sudden change? What led you to take up arms again in the company of Iván Márquez, head of the FARC delegation in Havana?
It will never be easy to establish the hidden reasons for a human being to take a step of this nature. But, beyond Santrich’s subjectivity, based exclusively on the events surrounding that determination, two highly probable hypotheses emerge. On the one hand, it is true that during the 2018 presidential campaign, the current president of Colombia, Iván Duque, was characterized by his opposition to the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace.
Not infrequently he stated that his government plan included the idea of unilaterally modifying what was agreed upon. In the case of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace, Duque did not limit himself to campaign advertisements. Indeed, twice he objected to the rules that regulated its operation: one before the Congress that had approved them and another before the Constitutional Court. It is not unreasonable to think that in the decision to restart the war, this fact had an impact.
The other possibility, of a totally opposite sign, is that some truth has existed in the incriminations formulated by the DEA regarding alleged negotiations between Santrich and drug traffickers, the disclosure of which has precipitated a determination that, instead of rhetorical fanfare as a heroic act, in truth has corresponded to a simple flight caused by the possibility of ending up being tried in US courts.
In any case, whatever that may be, several lessons can be drawn from this fact.
First of all, it is clear that violence is not the way. That the difficult construction of a democratic society does not involve the use of arms. And that full compliance with the Final Agreement contains keys that should not be discarded to obtain a stable and lasting peace.
For its part, although it is not a new finding, this event corroborates Colombia’s assertions about the consensual presence of illegal groups in Venezuelan territory. Peace in Colombia is linked to the normalization of relations in the two countries, which in one way or another must include Venezuela’s commitment to break all ties with the various illegal organizations.
Thirdly, it also seems to indicate that, as has been maintained, the Government and the Armed Forces of Venezuela are no longer mere stone guests. The confrontation between the former guerrilla (ELN) and dissident FARC groups would have forced them to try to control an explosive situation. For the Colombian Government, Nicolás Maduro’s action goes further: not only has he undertaken a task of stabilizing the dissidents but he has intervened in favor of the so-called Second Marquetalia – the group of Márquez and Santrich – named in memory of the territory. where the FARC began operations and against «Gentil Duarte», who, from the beginning, did not enter the negotiations. The Maduro Government has denied have any ties with these groups.
Fourth, Santrich’s death deprives his organization of an important spokesperson. In Havana he distinguished himself for being an articulator of the guerrilla discourse. Hopefully it will serve as an incentive to totally eliminate weapons in politics.
Finally, regardless of which of the versions of the governments is authentic, it is already unobjectionable that there is a process of dangerous deterioration of the Colombian-Venezuelan border: severe affectation of the population, massive departure of Venezuelans to Colombia, violation of human rights and consolidation of a highly explosive crime and insecurity situation.
The two governments have ordered the abundant presence of troops on both sides of the border. In other words, a potential powder keg. Several personalities from both countries asked the UN to appoint a special envoy for the border. Tomorrow may be late. And if the powder keg explodes, its effects will be felt throughout Latin America and, it cannot be ruled out, throughout the world, given its geopolitical consequences.