By Peter Koenig
Colombia apparently voted against Peace with a margin of less than 0.5%, to be exact 0.43%, with a voter participation of only 40%. Can you imagine! This looks, first, like a boycott, as many people didn’t believe in the process and didn’t believe that the results would be adhered to; and, second, it smells of fraud. For example, with most of the ballots counted, the Choco region which suffered heavily from the war, voted with 80% yes. An overwhelming ‘yes’ also came from the Caribbean areas.
Who was counting? All pre-plebiscite opinion polls indicated an overwhelming ‘yes’ for Peace. Exit polls indicated a comfortable win for Peace. Why is nobody asking for a recount? Or maybe they do, but we don’t hear about it. Why could that be? – Maybe because Peace was never on the Colombiancum US Governments agenda. It was just a manipulation of the public mind; planting an illusion, as any hope for Peace these days, any Peace, anywhere in the world, is an illusion. But an illusion deviates people’s attention from reality. That was certainly achieved.
The 4-year Peace process, initiated by President Santos started on 19 November 2012 and ended on 24 August, 2016. It was facilitated and formally sponsored by Norway and Cuba. Talks were held in Havana and co-sponsored by Venezuela and Chile. The deal was signed in Havana with big fanfare on 26 September 2016.
For many, Santos’ initiative to have the Peace Treaty ratified by a referendum, came as a surprise. In any case, the outcome of the plebiscite is not legally binding. Under the circumstances and with such a small margin, even if it was not manipulated, any healthy and peace loving government would dismiss the narrow outcome and adhere to and promote the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
During 52 years the 7,000 to 10,000 strong leftist FARC militia fought in defense of the rural poor against an elite of the rich, mostly urban dweller and latifundios, against government forces with support of the US military stationed in Colombia. The official death toll of 200,000 to 300,000 may in reality be at least double that number, not mentioning the millions of uprooted people who had to flee and lost their homes and land. Reaching a Peace deal would be a welcome and well-deserved achievement. Indeed, the signature event was celebrated throughout Latin America and the world (FARC-EP stands for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo / Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – The People’s Army).
Instead of following the overwhelming people’s desire for Peace – I repeat, after 52 years! of bloody war – President Santos announced last Tuesday to extend the ceasefire until 31 October 2016, saying he hoped that renegotiations with FARC would lead to ‘arrangements’ to find a solution to this conflict. Wasn’t the solution already found when the Peace Agreement was signed on 26 September?
Immediately after the plebiscite’s ‘rejection’ light (very light), Santos met with his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, who campaigned against the Agreement. That in itself is strange. Two Presidents from the same party, friends, and on the payroll of the same masters, the CIA, were leading two different campaigns. While Juan Manuel Santos, the current President, was waving the Peace flag, Uribe drove a fear-mongering campaign especially focusing on the general amnesty concession that FARC got out of the deal.
Before Uribe became President in 2002, he formed the ‘Colombia First’ movement. His growing so-called independent party grew even stronger with political elitists and plutocrats to bring him to a second term in 2006. This new coalition of right-wing parties, called the ‘Urbistas’, eventually was the platform on which Juan Manuel Santos was elected in 2010. The current government has amassed a right-wing alliance of conservatives and liberals that at one point controlled 94% of Congress. In the meantime, Alvaro Uribe formed another right-wing Centro-Democratic party. Under two different flags but the same ideology – and less obvious – they control now Congress as a political “Cartel”, as Harvard academic James Robinson, puts it, to prevent any other political force to rise and challenge the exclusive power of the Right – which, needless to say, works in close collaboration with Washington’s interests.
It is therefore all the stranger that the two presidential buddies work for different outcomes of the plebiscite. It looks more like a maneuver to deviate and confuse public opinion. Can you imagine, that the US of A, with seven military bases – and more to come – will want Peace? Colombia is THEstrategic corner of southern Latin America from where they plan to reconquer the sub-continent, their ‘Backyard’, as Obama put it so undiplomatically insulting, yet adroitly, as it reflects the mindset of Washington and its citizenry.
In the fall of 2009, US and Colombian officials signed an agreement, granting the US armed forces access to seven Colombian military bases for ten years. These are two quotes from a US Air Force document about the bases:
– “Opportunity for Full Spectrum Operations throughout South America, against threats not only from drug trade, but also from ‘anti-US governments’ in the region.”
– “The agreement operates from the same (failed) mindset that has given rise to the School of the Americas (SOA / WHINSEC). The purpose of the bases is to ensure US control of the region through military means.”
Why would they want Peace now, when chaos and war helps to divide and conquer? But then why carry the Peace process all the way to signature, just to be undone by a phony referendum? – It’s part of propaganda, brainwashing and numbing peoples’ minds. The four years of ‘negotiations’ which made the world believe that Peace was a seriously option, offered the government also a state of semi-ceasefire, a time during which they could regroup, strategize and especially disarm the FARC rebels, defenders of the poor rural workers and of democracy. The FARC in good fate participated in this gambit. The masters of deception once more succeeded with the help of Washington, the Pentagon and the CIA.
What is amazing though, is that Latin America, the world, including the four sponsors and co-sponsors, are rather silent about the outcome of the referendum that came out of the blue. It must be the sense of ‘democracy’ that lays behind the referendum. It deserves support, no matter how narrow the margin and how obvious the manipulation of results. How naïve! – The referendum was not needed, since during the four years of ‘negotiations’ the crucial points of discussion and eventually of agreement, were vetted sufficiently with Congress to not pose a problem for ratification; and this especially since the result of the plebiscite has by Colombia’s Constitution no legal binding. The FARC now largely disarmed, will give the government a clear advantage, hoping to eradicate a weakened movement of rebellion for justice.
Remember, this is a lesson practiced many times by the empire (and passed on to its vassals), not last in Iraq, when first the country was weakened with the so called Gulf War, 1990-1991, and the ensuing ten years of murderous sanctions imposed by the US and its ‘coalition of the willing’ (and spineless), including the most horrendous bombing campaigns under Clinton – of which the mainstream media reported next to nothing – disabling much of the Iraqi armed forces. Hence, the 2003 totally illegal Bush-Blair Shock and Awe campaign could inflict maximum damage and chaos on one of the most progressive Middle Eastern countries. The NO PEACE
dictum in Colombia follows a similar pattern.
Peter Koenig is an economist, and water resources and environmental specialist. He has worked for over 30 years with the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Swiss Development Cooperation, in Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, East and South East Asia and Latin America. Peter is also a geopolitical analyst for Global Research, Information Clearing House, RT, PressTV, Sputnik, TeleSUR and The 4th Media, China. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.