political benefits.The growing opposition of expresidente Uribe is both serious and harmful. He remains verypopular and NO to the Havana talks is a cornerstone of his political speech.Another difficulty: the risks and confusions of negotiating in the midst of war. Talking and fighting.Dialogue in LH, combat in Colombia. But these are the rules of the game set by the government:no ceasefire until a final agreement is reached. Public opinion
doesn’t easily understand this
situation and the mounting attacks by Farc and ELN feed doubts and fears
. Wasn’t peace around
the corner? It
also feeds Uribe’s visceral speech: the talks are an unacceptable
concession toterrorism and a leap backwards in national security.One aspect of his campaign is his intense use of social media networks. One graphic example: amonth ago, just minutes after I gave a radio interview explaining that the capture of members of police intelligence in a conflict zone could not be interpreted as kidnappings, Uribe was furiously
tweeting that the President’s brother
was justifying the kidnapping of policemen. They were freeddays later, but what must be kept in mind was what Farc said when they announced they wouldno longer kidnap for money, but that members of the armed forces captured in combat zoneswould be considered
“prisoners of war”.
Armed confrontation will continue, but what could be deescalated are the verbal aggressions andthe microphone wars, in order to defuse tensions and better safeguard the Havana table from theloud media noise that surrounds it.Talks must
remain confidential. This doesn’t mean the government
can´t have a more coherentcommunication strategy. The Farc has filled the information void, to the extent that they havebecome victims of
their own excessive media protagonism. It hasn’t helped t
hem at all: 60% of
Colombian public don’t believe these talks will lead to peace.
Anyway, there are so many complicated issues in the agenda apart from the present agrarian one:political participation, disarmament,
victims, illegal crops…
Outside of structural problems- corruption, inequality, narco-trafficking- that are sadly threemajor factors of Colombian reality.Demobilization of 8 to 10,000 guerillas will not in itself transform this reality, but it wouldcertainly help very much.Running out
of time, so I’ll throw out some thoughts to be discussed later:
· Rhythm is of the essence. The agenda has to move forward at a better pace. There has beensignificant progress on the agrarian point, but it has to move quicker.