By Angelika Rettberg*
“Colombian peace is our American peace.” / urban_lenny / Flickr / Creative Commons
Amid the increased political juggling in Colombia as the government’s peace deal with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) has advanced, one key lesson is that the nature of “local ownership” will have an impact on its success or failure. After the razor-thin victory of the agreement’s opponents in the referendum on October 2 propelled the country into uncertainty, its proponents – buttressed by the informal deadline created by the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to President Juan Manuel Santos on December 10 – tried a different track. Instead of calling for a new referendum, as many expected, the government appears to have learned its lesson about the perils of direct democracy and sent the new agreement to Congress, where it was approved by an undisputed majority in both houses. A Constitutional Court ruling on December 13 gave Congress fast-track authority to approve required changes in the law, paving the way for implementation. Meanwhile, FARC fighters have begun moving toward the more than 20 camps in which complete disarmament is expected to conclude by June 2017.
The country’s shifting approach to the accord has been caused by uneven local ownership. As scholars and practitioners alike underscore, broad participation in transitional countries must be involved in order to achieve sustainable peace. To avoid difficulties such as those experienced by Guatemala, where many felt the agreement was imposed by international actors, societies need to feel that agreements and the resulting commitments have been developed bottom-up, or at least with domestic actors. The Colombian process was touted as one “by Colombians for Colombians.” International participation was intentionally kept to a low profile and key players in the negotiations were all Colombians. But when the results of the October referendum temporarily pushed the country back to square one – “Nada está acordado” – it became clear that local ownership in this case had a broader meaning: Paradoxically, submitting the agreement to the popular will did not cause collective responsibility behind it to surge but rather gave a boost to people’s sense that they had the democratic right to reject the deal altogether. Similarly, despite the actions of Congress and the Constitutional Court, debate on how the agreement will be translated into action is taking place within and among the domestic institutions, including the Presidency, Congress, the courts, and several control organisms.
Colombia’s peace deal has powerfully posed the question not of whether to include popular opinion in peace deals, but how to do so in the most constructive way. The result will be very much a reflection of the Colombian people’s and their institutions’ capabilities to negotiate and establish priorities and to design policy accordingly. After all, peace is a public policy. The Colombian case thus holds many lessons for peacebuilding in general, and for the potential tensions and dilemmas needed to balance peace, majoritarian democracy, public opinion, and justice. The agreement itself may turn into a moving target as different sectors on all sides of the debate seek to steer implementation toward their interests. Regardless of what happens, the quality of “local ownership” will be central to determining the shapes and contents – and the durability – of Colombian peace.
December 22, 2016
* Angelika Rettberg is a Professor of Political Science at La Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.
Posted by clalsstaff on December 22, 2016
By Eric Hershberg
Presidential candidate preference, by race or ethnicity / Pew Research Center
In unprecedented numbers, Latino voters flexed their muscles in the bitter and destructive U.S. presidential campaign, but that wasn’t enough to elect a competent but mistrusted centrist and block an erratic TV showman espousing policies anathema to their interests. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost in the electoral college, which in the American system is what actually matters, but she won the popular vote by a slim margin – little consolation to Latinos. Donald Trump and the forces that will accompany him into the Executive branch have pledged to begin efforts to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build walls to keep Latin Americans out of the country, and reverse decades of policies meant to strengthen ties among the Americas. The election highlighted deep cleavages in U.S. democracy:
- An inclusive coalition of the well-educated, urban dwellers, youth, and racial and ethnic minorities lost to a bloc of angry white working-class, rural, and small-town voters rallied by a man whose behavior and rhetoric were called repugnant by leaders of even his own party. The outcome testifies to the degree to which vast segments of the American population feel ignored and denigrated by political and cultural elites and alienated by profound social changes that accelerated during the Obama administration, including shifts regarding such issues as gender and sexual identity and, particularly, racial diversity and empowerment.
- The Trump-led “whitelash” has been largely rhetorical up to this point, but it will soon be manifested in public policies with life-changing consequences for immigrants, minority populations, and impoverished citizens. There’s a possibility that, once charged with running the country, the Trump faction will moderate on some issues, but it’s frightening to recall that no fewer than 37 percent of German voters mobilized behind an analogous cocktail of racial resentment and violent impulses in 1932. In 2016, nearly half of the American electorate did just that, with profound implications for civil discourse, tolerance, and respect for sometimes marginalized sectors of the country’s population. If Trump’s exclusionary rhetoric becomes translated into concrete policies that diminish the country’s diversity, the U.S. will lose its status as among the most dynamic and creative places in the world.
The Latino vote was expected to be among the decisive factors that would sweep Clinton into the White House and swing the Senate back to Democratic control, albeit by the slimmest of margins. But while it was influential, diminishing Trump’s margin of victory in reliable Republican strongholds such as Arizona and Texas, and enabling the Democrats to eke out victories in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, the Latino vote was insufficient to rescue Clinton’s fortunes in the pivotal states of Florida and North Carolina. Whereas in 2012 Obama had an estimated 71-27 percent advantage among Latinos against his opponent, Clinton failed to match that total – exit polls indicate roughly a 65-29 percent split – even against a candidate explicitly targeting Latino interests. Trump called for mass deportations of the country’s 10 million undocumented Latino residents and a rollback of the Obama administration’s efforts to provide safe haven and legal status for at least half of this vulnerable segment of American communities. Whatever the reasons for their low participation, these communities now confront existential threats.
- If Trump follows through on his promises, the impact will be manifested in numerous domains beyond immigration and related human rights that have profound implications for the welfare of U.S. Latinos, including the composition of the Supreme Court and its commitment to voting rights; protection against discrimination in employment, housing, and financial services; access to health care for 20 million people who for the first time gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”); opportunities for pre-school and tertiary education; and environmental regulations needed to protect public safety and health.
Political scientists and informed citizens must now revisit their assumptions about the impact that a growing Latino population may have on the outcome of presidential elections. The gap separating the two parties in terms of Latino preferences is vast and increasingly consolidated, suggesting an enormous and enduring disadvantage for the Republicans. But whether the Latino vote can become a decisive, rather than merely influential, component of the electorate is much less certain. The anger among white voters – at least this time around – carried the day. This “whitelash” may or may not be a transitory phenomenon, but the prospects for efforts to make the United States a force for good in the world, and to make government an agent for social and economic justice for all, will depend in large part on the future mobilization of the Latino community. Arguably, the future of the United States – and by extension the world’s – hinges on the capacity of Latino voters to make America great again.
November 10, 2016
Posted by clalsstaff on November 10, 2016
By Fulton Armstrong and Eric Hershberg
The U.S. general election on November 8 could give Latino voters their biggest chance yet to flex their political muscles. The Pew Research Center has released new projections showing that a record 27.3 million Latino voters – 4 million more than in 2012 and 12 percent of the U.S. total – are eligible to vote this year. Millennials (born since 1981) now make up 44 percent of Latino eligible voters, and Pew Research says that first-time voters represent one-fifth of those who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote. (Only 9 percent of those over 36 are “absolutely certain.”) Pew is agnostic, however, on whether their turnout in November will set a record. Latino non-participation rates are generally high: their turnout rate was only 48 percent in 2012. Indeed, analysts at the New York Times cautioned last month that comparisons between Clinton’s support among Latinos now and Obama’s in 2012 – which are similar – indicate that she can’t take them for granted.
Latinos’ political preferences – traditionally Democratic except in the Cuban-American community, which itself is trending towards the Democrats – appear poised for an unprecedented surge in favor of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton next month. The “Vote Predict” model of Latino Decisions shows Clinton stands to win 82 percent of the Latino vote, and her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, 15 percent, with a 5.5 percent margin of error. This 67-point gap breaks the previous record of a 51 percent split between President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole in 1991, and the 71-to-27 difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012. Press reports indicate that, despite unhappiness with aspects of the Obama Administration’s immigration policies which Clinton supported as Secretary of State, Latinos judge that Donald Trump’s policies of walls and expulsions call for active opposition. Pew’s polls confirm that two-thirds of Millennial Latinos say their support for Clinton is more a vote against Donald Trump than for her. The Republican Party’s own “autopsy” of its resounding 2012 electoral defeat underscored the importance of attracting Latino voters, who were dismayed by anti-immigrant and xenophobic stances they associated with the GOP. In nominating Trump, the party fulfilled its strategists’ worst fears.
An overwhelming Latino majority for Clinton seems almost certain. Political scientists increasingly predict that their rejection of the Republican brand may endure for generations to come, with profound implications for the viability of the Republican Party beyond the Congressional district and state levels. Latinos may not get credit as the crucial swing vote in the presidential race, but they could be crucial in other contests. The Latino vote could prove critical to the outcome of key Senate races in states such as Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona. While the absolute number of Latino voters appears likely to rise, turnout in this unusual – even unsightly – presidential contest is one of the most unpredictable variables confounding polling experts, who see signs that many Americans’ faith in democracy and its processes is dropping, at least temporarily. A survey reported in the Washington Post, for example, showed that fully 40 percent of 3,000 registered voters say they “have lost faith in American democracy,” while just 52 percent say they have not. An astounding 28 percent said they probably would not accept the legitimacy of the outcome if their candidate loses. These trends, along with Trump’s allegations that the election may be rigged, make the timing of the coming-of-age of Latino Millennials truly ironic in this extraordinary election year. Many Latinos, or their parents or grandparents, left polarized, imperfect democracies and, after earning U.S. citizenship and the right to vote, find themselves in a polarized, imperfect democracy with deep historical roots but an uncertain near-term future.
October 20, 2016
Posted by clalsstaff on October 20, 2016
By Aaron T. Bell*
Left: Photo of Daniel Ortega celebrating his latest presidential triumph (July 20, 2012) / Fundación ONG de Nicaragua / Wikimedia / Creative Commons; Right: Anastasio Somoza DeBayle / DemonSabre / Wikimedia / Creative Commons
Events in Nicaragua this summer have demonstrated that President Ortega and his family have a vision for the future that erodes a key element of political democracy – the replacement of the executive through free and fair elections – and risks establishing a dynasty of corruption and authoritarian rule. In May 2016, President Daniel Ortega of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) announced his candidacy for a fourth presidential term – his third consecutive. Since then the government has taken several steps to ensure that Ortega and his family remain in power in November’s elections for President and National Assembly, and beyond:
- Voting irregularities, a lack of transparency, and accusations of fraud have marred several successive elections since Ortega’s return to power in 2007. In June of this year, Ortega announced that he would not permit international election observers to monitor this fall’s elections.
- Weeks later, the Supreme Court stripped opposition leader Eduardo Montealgre of his position as head of the Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI) and replaced him with Pedro Reyes, considered by observers to be an Ortega ally. In July, Nicaragua’s electoral council removed 16 sitting members of the National Assembly and 12 alternates after they refused to recognize Reyes.
- In August, Ortega announced that Rosario Murillo, his long-time partner and wife since 2005, would serve as his vice presidential candidate in the November election. Murillo has been a prominent figure in the Ortega government while serving as both first lady and chief spokeswoman. Her political ascension is complemented by the rise to prominence in recent years of her and Ortega’s children as operators of business and media interests, including the couple’s eldest son and presidential adviser on investments, Laureano Facundo, who helped sell the stalled interoceanic canal project to Chinese businessman Wang Jing.
Nicaragua’s opposition parties have thus far been unable to mount an effective response and have shown the lack of cohesion and focus that have plagued them for decades. Montealgre announced that the coalition led by the PLI would boycott the election and called on others to do the same. But rather than present a united front, opposition leaders are fighting amongst themselves to seize the mantle of leadership and challenge Ortega through several competing parties and coalitions. This will be no easy task: polling conducted by M&R Consultores this summer shows that over 60 percent of voters are likely to vote for Ortega, with the leading opposition parties drawing low single digits. Over a quarter of potential voters said they were unsure whom they would vote for. With the opposition beset by division and lacking much legitimacy – tainted as they are by a history of corruption, self-interest, and financial support from the United States – it is unsurprising that protests and civil unrest have been largely absent. The ouster of the PLI delegates has also stirred the FSLN’s old opponents outside the government, who have been largely quiescent in recent years but condemned the decision: the Bishops of the Episcopal Council, the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce, and the Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada (COSEP), the largest business chamber that has enjoyed a working relationship with the Ortega government.
The FSLN’s authoritarian turn, Ortega’s long reign, and the rise to prominence of both Murillo and the couple’s children invite comparisons between Ortega and Somoza family dynasties. It may be from COSEP and the business sector, rather than among the weak and divided political opposition, that a serious challenge to Ortega could eventually emerge. It was after all the defection of non-Somoza family interests in the private sector, combined with a popular insurrection led by a guerrilla insurgency, that did away with Nicaragua’s previous family dynasty. But that combination only emerged following the shock of the 1972 earthquake and resulting massive corruption, the assassination of a national figure like Pedro Chamorro in 1978, and the particularly bloodthirsty turn that the Somoza regime had taken. With similarly game-changing circumstances absent at this juncture, the sort of cross-sector revolutionary movement that ultimately toppled the Somozas appears unlikely. For the moment at least, an Ortega family will be well on its way to firmly preserving its dynastic power come November.
September 19, 2016
* Aaron Bell is an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer in History and American Studies at American University.
Posted by clalsstaff on September 19, 2016
By Marcie Neil*
A photo from the protest on June 19. Credit: LibreRed / Google / Creative Commons
The Mexican government’s latest reaction to the country’s largest teachers union’s challenge to education reform is triggering accusations of gross human rights violations at a time that President Enrique Peña Nieto is already under severe pressure over the case of the missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa, even if the union’s reputation – and the government’s historical demonization of it – may undercut the teachers’ cause. Protesters associated with the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) clashed with state and federal police in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, on June 19, leaving eight dead, more than 100 wounded, and at least 25 detained. The clashes culminated a series of CNTE-led protests over a 2013 reform that puts the onus on teachers for student success through government-mandated tests and teacher evaluations – akin to the U.S. “No Child Left Behind Act.” CNTE members consider the reform disconnected from the realities of teaching in Mexico’s underprivileged, indigenous, and rural environments, and view it as a threat to their collective decision-making authority and hard-won benefits from the 1980s and 1990s.
- The CNTE denounced Nochixtlán as another example of excessive police force, and press reports and citizen testimony have refuted the President’s claim that police met protesters unarmed. The administration subsequently offered to meet with union leaders to discuss the reform, but it was seen as offering too little too late.
The CNTE is not the country’s most respected institution, but its complaints about the brutal police reactions to its protests have merit and have stimulated a national debate on Mexico’s commitment to human rights. The union’s reputation has been tarnished by repeated disruption of school schedules, internecine strife, recent arrests of leaders on corruption charges, and a recently eliminated, but oft-cited, benefit that allowed union members’ children to inherit their jobs regardless of merit. But the state’s implicit culpability in the disappearance of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa and the death toll on June 19 seems to have tipped the perceptions of its dispute with the state momentarily in favor of CNTE. That dispute and others with popular organizations have deep roots – going back to mobilizations in the 1960s, including the Tlateloco Massacre in 1968, and the brutal repression of a 2006 teachers strike in Oaxaca. The historical pattern is one of state abuse against mostly harmless citizens who feel denied democratic participation.
The Peña Nieto administration’s reactions thus far do not suggest a desire to break with that pattern, even in the face of public outrage over this month’s killings. The Mexico representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and others have called for an independent investigation into the Nochixtlán violence, but the government’s stonewalling of the Ayotzinapa investigation suggests these attempts at overcoming impunity face dim prospects. Education Minister Aurelio Nuño’s statement the day after the confrontation confirming the government’s commitment to uphold the education reforms further fueled public anger. Absent an independent evaluation, the bloody events of June 19 could remain as evidence that the Mexican government is simply unwilling to overcome its historical tendency to attack those it considers subversive.
July 1, 2016
* Marcie Neil received her Masters in Latin American Studies at American University in 2015 and served as a Graduate Assistant at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies.
Posted by clalsstaff on July 1, 2016
By Eric Hershberg
Thousands of protesters in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Photo Credit: Google Images / Creative Commons
2016 is proving to be this century’s most complicated year to date for South American political systems, and the coming months will be critical to assessing how well the region’s democracies can govern amid declining economic conditions and spiraling corruption scandals. Brazil and Venezuela – two very different systems with very different problems – are suffering the most visible crises.
- In Venezuela, where the Bolivarian project has descended into an incompetent Putinism in the tropics, is collapsing under the weight of monumental mismanagement of the economy. Many of the ills of the Venezuelan petrostate predate Chavismo, but during a collapse in oil prices President Maduro has doubled-down on profligate economic policies introduced by Hugo Chávez, bringing the country to catastrophe made worse by increasingly draconian repression of loyal and disloyal opposition alike.
- President Dilma Rousseff’s mismanagement of coalitions in a presidential system predicated on coalition-building has opened the way to political and economic implosion in Brazil. Contrary to the fervent assertions of important segments of the Workers Party (PT), her impeachment does not precisely constitute a coup, but it may indeed amount to an ill-advised bending of institutional mechanisms by cynical legislators and aggressive judges, egged on by rightist sectors whose commitment to democracy is in fact dubious. Dilma didn’t invent the corruption and footloose budgetary practices that have been her undoing, but her fall does respond to overwhelming popular rejection of her performance. Interim President Temer’s appointment of an entirely white male cabinet that includes representatives of some of the country’s most retrograde interests suggests abandonment of many of the most laudable achievements of more than a decade under PT rule – and more backlash as well.
Other institutional crises may be on the horizon. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa pursued a high-risk strategy of debt-driven expansion of the state, which is not sustainable amid economic contraction. Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s honeymoon may prove short-lived. Much-needed economic reforms are likely to provoke even greater inflation and have already stoked resistance from the Peronist opposition. Macri enjoys some unprecedented assets – for the first time non-Peronists also control the city and province of Buenos Aires– but Argentine public opinion overwhelmingly favors statist economic policies that he aims to dismantle, and no non-Peronist elected president has completed his term in office since the rise of Peronism as a political force. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, wounded by a drop in mineral export revenues and comparatively minor corruption allegations involving her daughter-in-law, reshuffled her cabinet earlier this month but continues to tank in the polls. Latinobarómetro reports that 70 percent of Chileans believe their political system doesn’t work.
It’s not hard to envision other relatively stable South American democracies facing hard times ahead. The June 5 presidential runoff in Peru could leave the country deeply polarized, especially if Keiko Fujimori, heiress to the country’s darkest episode in recent history, wins. It is not a foregone conclusion that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has staked his second term on a long-awaited and much-needed peace accord, will secure its ratification, risking lameduck status for the remainder of his administration. If the presidents elsewhere appear to be weathering the storm, democratic governance nonetheless faces important challenges. It would be rash to predict that democracy will fail the test – and that such failure will give rise to a new era of authoritarian rule – but it’s clear that the region will witness widespread instability during the coming years.
May 26, 2016
Posted by clalsstaff on May 26, 2016
By Ricardo Barrientos*
Photo Credit: Publinews Guatemala / YouTube / Creative Commons
The high hopes created by Guatemala’s peaceful, democratic change of government last year are hitting the shoals of reality. Guatemalans managed a major political crisis in 2015 in an exemplary way: massive citizen demonstrations against authorities accused of corruption lasted four months without a single incident of violence. Acceptably free and fair elections took place just three days after disgraced President Pérez Molina resigned, and a transition government was formed as mandated by the Constitution to govern until Jimmy Morales, the new Guatemalan President, was sworn in on January 14. Although lacking experience, a cabinet, and a plan, Morales inspired confidence with a very good slogan (that he was “neither corrupt, nor a thief”) and good communication skills honed as a former TV comedian. Voters had rejected and punished the “old politics” and felt hope that honesty would prevail.
Since Morales took office, however, serious mistakes have caused confidence to dim.
- His reluctance or inability to answer questions from journalists and to refrain from underestimating audiences by telling silly jokes and childhood stories are raising concerns among observers of an emerging authoritarian personality.
- Secrecy surrounding his cabinet selection process has led to missteps. His Minister of Communications, Infrastructure, and Housing was forced to resign after just 11 days in office – in the face of evidence of tax fraud and a serious conflict of interest.
- His first approach to Congress was only to reverse the position on 2016 public debt cuts that his representatives advocated last November. Asking Congress to reduce debt proved popular back then, but now transfers to the Public Prosecutor Office or to the public university can be made only if the original debt amount is restored by Congress. That condition is not only unpopular; it risks hampering the effort to prosecute corruption.
- Instead of asking Congress for an urgently needed budget increase to solve ongoing shortages of medicines and equipment in public hospitals and clinics – almost a humanitarian tragedy, he accepted pharmaceutical company donations of expired medications – in a deal redolent of past corruption.
- Morales’s political party, Frente de Convergencia Nacional (FCN), has grown substantially in Congress by receiving “turncoat” congressmen, directly contradicting an important campaign promise. “Turncoating,” jumping from party to party in Congress (always for a “price”), is one of the practices condemned in 2015 as part of the “old politics” and was strongly rejected by voters who trusted Morales. The Public Prosecutor Office has received complaints denouncing bribes, government jobs, and contracts offered to “turncoats” now affiliating with the FCN.
Events in Guatemala over the past year present a huge contrast with what the country was a couple of decades ago – triumph for a society deeply marked by civil war, poverty, and brutal inequality, with the fresh hope of a new democratic spring. Jimmy Morales appears to be squandering a historic opportunity to harness this democratic momentum. Voters who set aside concerns about his links to right-wing Army veterans accused of crimes against humanity during the civil war could soon feel deceived because the “old politics” is still in place. Guatemala’s democratic spring may fade before it blooms, sowing the seeds of crisis and instability in the future.
February 22, 2016
*Ricardo Barrientos is a senior economist at the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (Icefi).
Posted by clalsstaff on February 22, 2016
By Eric Hershberg and Fulton Armstrong
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State / Flickr / Public Domain
The United States, buoyed by good feelings about what President Obama called Colombia’s “remarkable transformation,” last week pledged $450 million a year in continued aid for the next five years, but it’s not clear yet whether “Peace Colombia” will be very different from Plan Colombia, to which the United States contributed some $10 billion. The new spending includes unspecified amounts to support the reintegration of FARC combatants who lay down their arms as part of a peace accord expected next month, but much of the emphasis appears to be on old priorities, such as “consolidating and expanding progress in security and counternarcotics.”
- Obama and Colombian President Santos announced the new program in Washington events marking the 15th anniversary of the launch of Plan Colombia. Amid the many remarks about Colombia’s progress, indicators such as homicide rates (down 50 percent since 2002), kidnapping rates (down 90 percent), economic growth (averaging 4.3 percent), and poverty and unemployment (down slightly) stand out. By most accounts, moving around core regions of Colombia is easier and safer than it’s been in decades.
Some of these gains of the past 15 years remain tenuous, and “Peace Colombia” will face new challenges as well. In speeches and backgrounders, government officials have acknowledged that coca eradication and crop substitution programs have failed to reverse Colombia’s role as the world’s biggest producer of coca. Moreover, programs supporting the demobilization of the FARC will be more difficult to implement than those given to the rightwing paramilitaries in 2002-2006. Tens of thousands of former paramilitaries are now active in bandas criminales (BACRIMs), which President Santos recently referred to as “2,500 miniscule criminal organizations scattered throughout the country.” Changing economic circumstances could also complicate efforts to advance peace. During the years of Plan Colombia, the country got a healthy bump from both domestic and foreign investment – because of the improved security environment as well as the external economic environment, including the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and Chinese demand for commodities. Investment remains strong, but the export boom is over, which is lowering growth and squeezing government budgets.
The creation of economic opportunity is at least as important to the success of Peace Colombia as continued support for the Colombian military and security system, although last week’s speeches and press releases did not shed much light on that. Achieving peace and building democracy will also require addressing infrastructure deficits, educational inequality, inadequate job training, and poverty. Several Florida congressmen, arguing that “Peace Colombia” supports an accord that’s overly generous to the FARC, say they’ll oppose Obama’s pledged aid. The assistance will almost certainly advance, however, because of the strong Washington consensus that Colombia is its biggest (if not only) success worldwide in beating back irregular armed groups. Moreover, as President Santos and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry emphasized in a press conference, there are no conditions on the new assistance – which should assuage Congressional opponents’ concerns that the relationship will get held up by investigations into alleged human rights violations in the past. The Presidents spoke of pulling Colombia back from the “verge of collapse” in the 2000s to the “verge of peace” now. A broadening of strategies in both capitals, including a reassessment of the emphasis on military options, could push the country toward becoming a more inclusive democracy, which ultimately may be what is required in order to achieve lasting peace.
February 8, 2016
Posted by clalsstaff on February 8, 2016