As the run-off elections approach in Colombia approach, debate intensifies concerning guerilla groups and the government

BOGOTÁ — As the run-off of the Presidential Elections in Colombia approaches, the debate over the main point of disagreement between the two candidates — the current President, Juan Manuel Santos, and the leader of the “Democratic Centre” party, Óscar Iván Zuluaga — is starting to be intensified. All the discussion over the FARC and ELN situation gained a special ingredient when President Santos announced that he started the conversation between the two largest armed guerilla groups in Colombia and the government. “I want a country in peace, without war, that is my purpose to open opportunities repressed for 50 years”, said the President Juan Manuel Santos in his personal account on Twitter.

The negotiations with the ELN have taken place in Ecuador and have full support from the Ecuadorian government, as the President Rafael Correa declared after becoming aware of the declaration of President Santos on the subject that, in his opinion, “a comprehensive peace process that includes both the FARC and the ELN is the best guarantee for the victims and for the country that this conflict is gone forever and will never be repeated“. The negotiations with the FARC have place in Havana and both agreed to set up a truth commission that will examine the many cases of kidnapping and disappearance of people in these 50 years of conflict and the expectation is that the commission begins its preliminary works in a month.

In addition, the FARC leaders declared that, as they did in the first round of elections, they will ceasefire from June 9 to 30, covering the period of the run-off of the Presidential Elections. On the other hand, the leaders of the ELN declared that they would not repeat the ceasefire “because every time the insurgency does something like this, it is used by the state military forces to obtain military advantage over our own troops”, the leadership of the ELN said in their website.

On the opposite side of all this discussion there is the opposition candidate, Óscar Zuluaga, that claimed that “the FARC rebels are the primary victimizers in Colombia, with all the murders and terrorism they have committed in all these years of massacres”. Also in the last debate, on Monday (9) night, he emphasized critically that this peace agreement proposed by the government “hurts the soldiers and policemen who captured guerrillas with great effort so that after they are sent to negotiate in Havana“. He also empashized in his personal Twitter account: “I will defend the sovereignty of my country, I will uphold the honor of the Military Forces and Police […] I count on the vote of every Colombian who want a secure home and peace with justice and social welfare“.

All things considered, the important thing is that Colombians will go to the polls on June 15 and will decide if they want a peaceful resolution for the conflict or if they want repression of the guerilla groups as the principal solution for the conflict.

Caio Prado, Correspondent (South America)

Image Courtesy: ©Rory Boon [Image Courtesy: Desconocido (cuadrado por Juan Pablo Arancibia Medina), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic | Wikimedia Commons / Image Courtesy: jolle, Released into the public domain | Wikimedia Commons]