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Construyendo la paz en Colombia; Lecciones de la conferencia de Claudia López

Construyendo la paz en Colombia; Lecciones de la conferencia de Claudia López

Claudia López visito London para la clausura de su corto tour en Ontario, el pasado Martes 2 de Abril  en Western University. En una sala de Kings University College, con más de 80 personas, Claudia López nos conto con cifras y estadísticas sus expectativas hacia las negociaciones de paz que están tomando lugar en La Habana entre la guerrilla de las FARC, y el gobierno colombiano. La mayoría conocemos a Claudia López, pero para los que no la conocen, ella es una de las analistas políticas más importantes de Colombia. Su experiencia en la política desde la sociedad civil tiene una trayectoria de más de dos décadas. Como estudiante de universidad fue promotora y una de las líderes del movimiento Séptima Papeleta, el cual promovió la reforma que llevaría a la instalación de la Asamblea Constituyente que desarrollo  la Constitución de 1991. Como consultora para las Naciones Unidas estuvo a cargo del programa de desarrollo de buen gobierno en más de 10 países de Latinoamérica.  Como periodista desenmascaro la relación entre políticos y grupos paramilitares, lo cual llevo a la captura de más de 25 congresistas colombianos. Y como investigadora de la Corporación Nuevo Arcoíris ha contribuido en la publicación de los reportes más profundos sobre la realidad del conflicto colombiano. En otras palabras, Claudia López es una formadora de opinión comprometida con la promoción de la  democracia y la paz en Colombia.

Lecciones comparativas

En su presentación de más de una hora, Claudia planteo como referencia los más de siete procesos de paz que llevaron a la desmovilización de seis grupos guerrilleros y el grupo paramilitar más grande del hemisferio occidental. Para ella, esta referencia es el punto de partida para explicar que así como Colombia tiene mucha experiencia de guerra, también ha tenido mucha experiencia de paz, o mejor dicho en negociaciones de paz. Es por eso que tenemos que tomar esas experiencias y llevarlas a la práctica en este nuevo proceso que se lleva a cabo con la guerrilla de las FARC, la más antigua y numerosa guerrilla  del continente.

Para Claudia el proceso de paz con el grupo paramilitar AUC es una experiencia particular a seguir comparativamente dada la escala y el tamaño del grupo armado, al igual que la coyuntura nacional. Hay un punto importante que considerar cuando se compara el proceso con las AUC y el proceso reciente con las FARC. Las AUC entraron a la negociación de paz con el gobierno en su momento de mayor auge militar, económico, y político. Las FARC por otro lado están entrando a las negociaciones de paz en su momento más débil, en relación a su capacidad militar y de control territorial. En negociaciones anteriores con grupos guerrilleros el gobierno colombiano ofrecía, efectivamente,  que los grupos armados dejaran las armas y a cambio entraran en política, y por supuesto este es el caso reciente con las FARC. El problema con la negociación con las AUC era, que se les puede ofrecer a un grupo que ya impuso esa representación política con más de 30 senadores en el congreso, 200 alcaldes alrededor del país y 7 gobernadores trabajando para ellos. Lo que se genero entonces con las AUC en Santa Fe de Rialito fue el más descarado e impune proceso de paz y desmovilización de la historia del país.

Santa Fe de Rialito se convirtió en una total farsa donde los grupos paramilitares aliados con políticos pertenecientes a la coalición del gobierno de Álvaro Uribe, crearon un proceso donde saldrían librados judicialmente y donde podrían legalizar su capital, el cual tomaron como botín de guerra después de masacres, desplazamientos y enriquecimiento por medio del narcotráfico.

Aprendiendo de la  experiencia con las AUC y entendiendo que las FARC están en su momento más débil se puede entender que las condiciones para el gobierno son más beneficiosas y lo que se está cocinando en La Habana entre las FARC y el gobierno no podrá ser una receta para la impunidad.

Mejor la negociación de paz que la continuación de la guerra

La paz no llegara simplemente cuando se firme un tratado de paz entre las FARC y el gobierno. La paz empieza a construirse cuando se firma ese tratado, pero el trabajo de ahí en adelante es más duro que llegar a la mesa de negociación. Claudia nos recuerda que van a haber dificultades y errores como lo ha habido en las pasadas negociaciones de paz, pero eso no quiere decir que no sea importante tomar la iniciativa para intentarlo. Se espera con las FARC, que al igual que las bandas neo-paramilitares o BACRIM, haya integrantes de sus filas que no se desmovilicen y se integren a otros grupos armados. Pero Claudia muestra el impacto que podría generar si al menos la mitad de los miembros de las FARC se desmovilizaran. Si eso ocurriera, la fuerza pública (es decir soldados tan campesinos, tan pobres, tan jóvenes, como muchos miembros de las FARC), dejaría de perder al menos 2,000 soldados anuales. Por ende eso ya es un paso muy grande hacia el mejoramiento del conflicto. Pero ese sería solo un paso hacia la paz.

En el proceso de justicia transicional  que se dará, se intentara aplicar una serie de herramientas y mecanismos que se utilizan para llevar a un país de una situación de conflicto, a una resolución pacífica y de transición democrática. Pero la justicia transicional no es un sistema perfecto en el cual todas las personas salen contentas. El hecho es que a lo que se quiere llegar es a un proceso en el que las FARC dejen las armas, se integren a la vida política del país y pare el sufrimiento de una gran parte de la población.

La guerra une, la paz desune

Claudia toma esta frase para referirse a la reciente disputa entre las elites colombianas representadas por el presidente Santos y el ex presidente Uribe. Lo que estamos viendo, dice Claudia, es como el proceso de paz ha sido posible gracias a la división de las elites. Por diez años el enemigo común mantuvo unidas a las elites al son de la guerra contra las FARC, pero en el momento en que se habla de paz con ese grupo insurgente, los dividen y se facilita el dialogo entre antiguos enemigos. Pero esta fricción no va a ser algo que se quiere ver un país que está implementando un proceso de paz. Al contrario, lo que tienen que hacer entonces es unirse para trabajar por esa paz. Para Claudia, los TWITTS de Álvaro Uribe en contra del proceso de paz no nos deberían importar tanto, ya que entenderlo es parte del proceso de paz, en donde una persona por mas sospechas o culpabilidad que puedan tener en el conflicto, pueda opinar sin que se presenten actos de violencia. Es ahí a donde se dará la paz. Cuando podamos hacer política sin violencia.

Si a la Paz en Colombia

Las lecciones que se pueden aprender de Claudia López son muy importantes para entender el conflicto armado colombiano y lo que podemos hacer para contribuir a la paz.
Por mi parte y por medio de SURLA ORG, el grupo que organizo el tour de Claudia López en Ontario, me comprometer a acompañar las negociaciones de paz y seguirlas de cerca para asegurar que se llegue a un acuerdo y se cumplan los mandatos. Desde la sociedad civil se puede trabajar, como lo ha hecho Claudia López por más de dos décadas, luchando sin miedo. Podemos demostrar que sin las armas podemos hacer una Colombia digna, en paz, y con justicia social.

Los invito a unirse a la campaña, SI A LA PAZ EN COLOMBIA, la cual nació en London, Ontario de jóvenes que queremos ver la paz en Colombia. Intégrense por facebook, o escribanos a sialapazencolombia@gmail.com nuestra página web estará disponible en los próximos días.

Nota: El video de la conferencia estará disponible la en: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bopgcc7pw2U

Le enviamos un cordial saludo y agradecimiento a Claudia López por acompañarnos en Ontario, y por todo su trabajo el cual ha inspirado a muchas personas.

Agradecemos también al Centre for Social Concern en Kings University Collge, Transitional Justice Centre en Western University, SURLA@Kings, y Colombia en London.
Juan Diego Castro
Coordinador Nacional
SURLA ORG
www.surla.org

 

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A New Tradition spreads the word in T.O

By: Juan Diego Castro/surla.org/September 5, 2012

“Spread the word, ancient texts have arisen bringing into fruition…A NEW TRADITION…”

With these words Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra the creative mind behind the music, lyrics and concept of A New Tradition, closed his CD Release Jam, last Thursday, August 30th , held at Lula Lounge in downtown Toronto.

The event, as it was expected, brought together some of the most talented youth from the city in an eclectic evening with a mix of music, live painting, and dance performances that included traditional Colombian cumbia, hip hop, and break dancing courtesy of the F.A.M (Future Art Movement).

Accompanying Ruben Esguerra, was a 13 member band directed by a New Tradition’s Luisito Obregoso who is the producer, arranger, percussionist, lead and back vocals.

This musical project which has been in the works for more than a year is a fusion of “contemporary sounds [like hip hop], inflected with ‘older traditions’ and played in unique and innovative ways”. For Esguerra, his music is “woven with the spoken word poetry [to] form a rich interplay that compliment[s] and bind[s] into melodies, rhythms and rhymes to tell stories that resonate and stimulates the listener on multiple levels”.

In a way, A New Tradition epitomises the struggle for identity, culture, and politics that many young Latin@s go through while growing up in Canada. Many people believe that amalgamating into Canadian society sometimes means that you put your identity and culture on the chop-line. But Benny Esguerra shows us that being part Canada is not about assimilating but it should be rather about sharing your ancestry, identity, traditions, and the politics attached to your culture.

Through his lyrics, Benny Esguerra managed to bring a message of resistance to spark critical consciousness in dealing with issues that affect our community in Canada, and Latin America. Music and culture then, becomes the vehicle used to reflect and act as a community, as he reminds us with the lyrics from his song “Se han tomado el mundo”: “La resistencia cultural si es pacifica pero nunca pasiva…”, “The cultural resistance is a pacific but not passive”.

The future of our community is expressed through artist like Benny Esguerra. We must then continue to support local artists who contribute to the preservation and development of our identity as Latin@s in Canada.

Check out A New Tradition Music at www.newtraditionmusic.com

Check out our interview with Benny Esguerra:

An interview with spoken word artist Benny Esguerra from SURLA ORG on Vimeo.

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‘Catastrophe': Critics Slam Neoliberal Plan for Privatized Cities in Honduras

By: Common Dreams Staff/Commondreams.org/September 6, 2012

What an official of the rightwing government of Honduras is calling the “most important project in half a century,” critics of the neoliberal plan to build private cities in the Central American nation are calling a “catastrophe” and argue that so-called “chartered cities” would violate the rights of all Hondurans, with particularly negative impacts for the nation’s indigenous population.

President Porfirio Lobo—who came to power in a military coup in 2009—has fully endorsed the proposals to create privately-funded “charter cities” as a way to attract foreign investment to his nation. Details remain elusive, but the experimental cities would be modeled on independently-governed and profit-driven business center cities, so-called “free trade zones” like Dubai or Hong Kong, but would be built virtually from scratch on lands to be determined by the government.

Inspired by US economist advisers—namely US economist Paul Romer, a graduate of the University of Chicago school of economics and currently a professor at the Stern School of Business at NYU—the cities would operate outside the control of the regular Honduran government and have “their own police, laws, government and tax systems.”

Details of the plan remain murky, but the government has already held high-level meetings with possible private investors and the Associated Press reports that the MGK investment group has already promised $15 million to begin construction on the first proposed city.

As the government moves quickly forward, however, opponents have launched legal challenges to the deals and indigineous groups argue that their lands are the target of the government.

As the Associated Press reports:

“These territories are the Garifuna people’s and can’t be handed over to foreign capital in an action that is pure colonialism like that lived in Honduras during the time that our land became a banana enclave,” said Miriam Miranda, president of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras.

Oscar Cruz, a former constitutional prosecutor, filed a motion with the Supreme Court last year characterizing the project as unconstitutional and “a catastrophe for Honduras.”

“The cities involve the creation of a state within the state, a commercial entity with state powers outside the jurisdiction of the government,” Cruz said.

The Supreme Court has not taken up his complaint.

The Guardian adds:

… the idea has provoked controversy in a country already suffering from one of the worst levels of inequality in the world.

Critics say it will allow a foreign elite to set up a low-tax, sympathetically regulated enclave where they can skirt labour standards and environmental rules.

“This would violate the rights of every citizen because it means the cession of part of our territory to a city that would have its own police, its own juridical power, and its own tax system,” said Sandra Marybel Sanchez, who joined a group of protesters who tried to lodge an appeal at the supreme court.

Ismael Moreno, a correspondent for the leftwing Nicaraguan magazine Envio, compared the charter cities to the banana enclaves, which were run on behalf of a foreign elite. He also spelled out the environmental risks, particularly if one of the development sites is the Sico valley, an area of virgin forest on the Mosquito Coast.

This model city would end up eliminating the last agricultural frontier left to us,” he wrote.

 

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Colombian government seeking peace with FARC rebels

By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta/Reuters/August 27, 2012

BOGOTA – Colombia’s government is seeking peace with the country’s biggest rebel group, the FARC, and could consider also holding talks with a second guerrilla movement to end five decades of war, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday.

In a televised address from the presidential palace, Santos said his government would learn from the mistakes of so many previous leaders who tried but failed to clinch a lasting ceasefire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

“Since the first day of my government I have completed my constitutional obligation to find peace. With that aim, we have had exploratory conversations with the FARC to seek an end to the conflict,” he said, confirming weeks of swirling rumors that his government had started behind-the-scenes discussions.

He added that the military would continue its operations “throughout every centimeter” of Colombia while talks continued.

Santos did not provide further details, but said he would reveal more about the talks in the coming days.

A successful peace agreement with the rebels would secure him a place in history as the leader who ended a conflict that has killed tens of thousands over the years and left the Andean nation’s reputation in tatters.

In response to a Reuters interview published on Monday with the head of the nation’s second biggest rebel group, Santos said the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, could also be involved in the peace talks.

“Today the ELN has expressed, via an international news agency, its interest in participating in conversations to put an end to the violence,” the president said in his brief speech.

“I tell that group that, within the same framework, they too can be part of the effort to end the conflict.”

A Colombian intelligence source told Reuters earlier that as part of the deal to hold talks, Santos had agreed FARC rebels would not be extradited to any other country to stand trial.

Details are still being worked out, the source said, but the negotiations could take place in Cuba or Norway. U.S. President Barack Obama is aware of the process and is in agreement, the source said.

Santos, who is at the mid-point of his four-year term, has said he would consider peace talks with the FARC only if he was certain the drug-funded group would negotiate in good faith.

SANTOS FOCUSED

The last peace effort ended in shambles.

In 1988 former President Andres Pastrana ceded the FARC a safe haven the size of Switzerland to promote talks. The rebels took advantage of the breathing space to train fighters, build more than 25 airstrips to fly drug shipments, and set up prison camps to hold its hostages.

News of the latest peace effort was met with guarded hope among Colombians.

“Honestly, full peace is probably never possible. Of course it would be good … but really, an end to the war? I think an end to the world will happen first,” said Maria Eugenia Martinez as she sold cigarettes in an upscale Bogota neighborhood.

Santos discussed the peace process during talks in Havana with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro before the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia earlier this year, the intelligence source said.

Colombia’s congress passed a constitutional reform in June that set the legal basis for eventual peace with the rebels. The reform prohibits guerrilla leaders accused of crimes against humanity from holding political office.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Santos said he would only start a peace process “with a high probability of success. I would not start a process to fail.”

VIOLENCE CONTINUES

News of the talks had already angered Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, who has slammed Santos for wanting “peace at any cost” and allowing the rebels to rearm and regroup.

Santos, a former defense minister, won election in 2010 by a landslide, pledging to cut unemployment and continue Uribe’s hard line security policies, while fostering economic growth and reducing poverty.

While much of the world struggles to shore up fiscal accounts, Colombia’s financial management, buoyant economy and security advances have helped shield its economy from too much fallout from the international financial crisis.

Once an outcast for most foreign companies, the Andean nation has become a magnet for investment as a U.S.-backed offensive against the FARC sharply reduced the number of kidnappings and murders. The nation was rewarded last year with an investment grade from three major credit-rating agencies.

But the 61-year-old Santos has seen his own ratings slide in recent weeks amid criticism that he had allowed rebels to chip away at the security gains of the last decade.

Attacks on oil industry installations have jumped 40 percent over the last year, while violent clashes between troops and indigenous protesters led to withering criticism of Santos for not protecting the soldiers.

Six people were killed, including two children, in a FARC bomb attack in central Meta province on Sunday.

The FARC, which calls itself “the people’s army” defending peasant rights, has battled about a dozen governments since appearing in 1964, when its founder, Manuel Marulanda, and 48 rebels fought off thousands of troops in jungle hide-outs.

The group has faced its biggest set-backs in recent years as U.S.-trained special forces use sophisticated technology and spy networks to track the leaders.

A string of defeats began in 2008 with a cross-border military raid into Ecuador that killed its second in command. Marulanda died of a heart attack weeks later and was replaced by Alfonso Cano, who was later killed too.

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School Out? Not Yet…The New York Times and the School of Assassins

By: Joan Roelofs/Counterpunch.org/August 19, 2012

 

On Saturday, August 11, The New York Times printed a front page article about the nun, Sister Megan Rice, age 82, who committed civil disobedience at the Oak Ridge Tennessee nuclear reservation in a protest against nuclear weapons.  The article also informs us that she had been arrested in 1998 protesting at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.  The Times then notes that some of the trainees from that school “went on to commit human rights abuses.”  You might think of denials of same-sex partner medical benefits, or censorship of soldiers’ mail; in fact, the abuses were (and still are) assassination, torture, and military overthrow of elected governments.

The  Times then states: “The school has since been closed.”  This is not the case at all.  The name has been changed to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, with the same curriculum.

The SOA, aka WHISC, is probably the best known locale of foreign military training, because of the vigil and civil disobedience organized every November by the School of the Americas Watch organization.  Some mainstream news sources note this event; The New York Timesusually ignores it.  Perhaps that is why they think the school is closed; if it is not in the NYT, it can’t possibly exist.

SOA graduates include the murderers of Jesuit priests, the lay missionary and 3 nuns, Archbishop Romero, and the El Mazote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador; and many other victims. SOA training manuals advocate torture. The recent overthrow of Honduras government was the work of graduates of SOA.  Other alumni are Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia.

Ecuador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela have withdrawn participation in SOA.

“Multicultural” education doesn’t stop with the SOA.  More than 200 institutions in the US train foreign military personnel, and US military sponsored training occurs all over the world, in our overseas institutions and in situ. The 571 page State Department Report on Foreign Military Training for 2010 indicates that approximately 67,100 students from 159 countries participated.

“Education” is offered through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program, and activities funded through Defense and State Departments. All armament sales are accompanied by training.  The State Department International Military Education and Training (IMET) is a major offering. The Expanded IMET (E-IMET) program (arising from criticism of our past trainees’ post-graduate projects—assassination, torture, military takeovers, etc.) is supposed to teach respect for civilian control of the military, human rights, and belief in the rule of law.

Among the DOD programs is Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET).  US Special Operations Forces (SOF) train “with friendly foreign forces. . . The primary purpose of JCET is always the training of US SOF personnel, although incidental training benefits may accrue to the foreign forces.”

Programs exist for combating terrorism, counter-narcotics training, humanitarian demining, and a whole university of military and civilian subjects.  Civilian government leaders of many countries are also invited and participate in the trainings.

The WHISC brags that it teaches peaceful skills such as public administration, but the purpose is clear: when the troops take over a country they have to know how to do it.  Perhaps the DOD has learned from the experience of Lawrence of Arabia: his men captured Damascus, but didn’t have any public administration skills, so lost it.

Each branch of the military has its own network of schools, the military academies have exchange programs, there are regional centers, and civilian institutions have foreign military students. Even military prep schools can get into the picture; some start at pre-Kindergarten. Private contractors also perform training.

Some examples of participating institutions among the 200 are the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (In D.C., Senegal, and Ethiopia); the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, NC for Special Forces training (Green Berets); and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (Marshall Center).

Land-grant universities were originally planned to include military training, and they are today important centers for these programs. Indonesian special forces—Kopassus—were trained at Norwich University in Vermont. When this was revealed by a reporter, a scandal ensued, the reporter was fired from her newspaper, and the program was shut down. However, the University’s president recently announced that the relationship was resuming.

Among the many countries participating in our military training are Sweden and Switzerland, sometimes thought to be neutral.  They are affiliated with NATO, in a “Partnership for Peace” status.  So also is Russia, and its troops joined ours in anti-terrorism training this May in Colorado.  Another odd grantee is the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, as Lora Lumpe points out in her excellent 2002 Report on military training.

One goal of these programs is to enable foreign military forces to support combined operations and “interoperability” with US forces. Military hardware is also advertised and demonstrated, being an important part of US exports.

The larger picture is positioning the US as a “holding company” for all the world’s militaries. These are also being groomed to penetrate civilian governments, in some cases by the old fashioned military coup. More sinister is the influence our past trainees, now heavily represented in foreign defense ministries, exert on the temporary elected governments in countries considered democracies—especially those considered the most democratic, such as Sweden and Denmark. Currently fashionable “networking” is indeed a potent technique of US domination.

Joan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996). Web site: www.joanroelofs.wordpress.com Contact: joan.roelofs@myfairpoint.net

 

 

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