During the period we devoted to campaigning for the YES vote I became convinced that those who were promoting that option were taking on a big responsibility. Win or lose we had to respond, above all to the many young people with whom we were embarking on this task of believing.
The starting point of this situation is far in the collective memory as always. In short, the history of the conflict has also been the story of the failed attempt to position a mindset: a way of seeing life, the country and the world always incoherent, only functional to the interests of the moment under the shared benefit of those who have governed the country, declaring wars that the people end up fighting for to earn a living. The conflict is among other things, proof of the failure.
Closer to my generation are the determining years from the election of Pastrana to the Uribe presidency, which are by chance not together now. Pastrana put in place a sham of a process designed to build up military strength and motives of anti-subversion and it fell on Uribe to reap the rewards. He proposed the doctrine of “Democratic Security,” which is similarly seen in the Central American generals responsible for genocide. (Could this be why there is much talk of El Salvador?)
Uribe denied the conflict, proposed legalization and consequent impunity for the supposed defenders of democracy against “terrorism” and made every effort to determine how to treat the guerrillas: he called them organized armed groups on the margins of the law to equate the to paramilitarism and offer them the same, but different: an agreement to demobilize, to most, but never an agenda of negotiation agenda with changes and much less with linking the state as responsible for crimes against humanity.
The process of dialogues with the FARC proposed by President Santos has been full of surprises, no doubt, and Uribe was the first to be surprised by the turn. But he went ahead to realize the best possible deal because all the factors came together: above all, the will of a guerrilla with a plan to become a political force that has been decanting since President Turbay first proposed peace talks, underlying the option of a military offensive that was defeated.
The surprise for the world was the decision to call a plebiscite as a mechanism of popular countersignature after four years of dialogue, by all the contradictions that this meant: the proposal of the constituent assembly was discarded, and what was chosen was a complex and fallible way that relativized the mandate given in the last presidential re-election, assuming that a new instrument of legitimization was need, in spite of everything at play.
Already committed we decided to campaign for the YES vote, trying to overcome these contradictions and facing new challenges.
It was very difficult to disentangle the plebiscite vote from the approval of the president. And it was even harder to challenge the lies of Uribe, which had more hold than our truths because they were based on the long history of anti-subversive policy and the strategy executed in the days of “Democratic Security.” Moreover, the Uribe strategy was a dirty campaign developed in a laboratory meant to position the people as choosing between God and the devil, while at the same time complaining that the right of peace was committed without thinking of the victims whose image they used at will to promote their hypocritical message against impunity.
The appeal of former President Gaviria, a prominent leader of doubtful and ambivalent liberalism that commands us did not work. The idea that the victory of the NO side meant a return to war, clashed with the repeated demonstrations of the FARC affirming its decision to end the war and become a political party. The idea that voting YES would mean progress and development, despite the current policies of the government, was not believed by a large part of Colombian society.
One day after the plebiscite, a few things are clear. Santos cannot ignore half the country that voted YES, or the moral force of the victims, who do not need a majority to be considered. Timoshenko and the FARC are played with an agreement for a political solution. And Uribe, which is the least crazy of the uribistas, knows that he does not have the power to renegotiate or to bomb, nor can it be certain that the NO vote belongs to him. One might think that it’s up to him to invent a national agreement where he can add many items, but whose characteristics still have to take into account the existence and strength of all parties involved in the problem of peace in Colombia, including the international community (the Red Cross and the World Bank).
So this is neither a victory nor a defeat. It is a crisis situation. Now I do not know the answers or outcome and it also taxes me to think of them because we are all processing the moment. However, in a situation where we face all the risks and all the opportunities that exist under the military route, even for the ELN still in arms, this has been closing to the point of preventing uribismo from defending anything that is not in the field of political solutions.
The instruments in this field are many. Immediately is the babble that seems to keep the Democratic Center until 2018 to return to repeat the method of placing a tough talking macho amid the destabilization. We’ll see what arises from the Havana talks when they reconvene and a constituent force takes hold in which some have confided more than others. The truth is that we cannot sit still now.
Much remains for peace to be achieved. We thought we would win this. But the earth continues to be round.