Is Colombia’s Peace Deal Falling Apart?

TRT World / Youtube

Peter Hakim, president emeritus and a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, joined Imran Garda of TRT World’s The Newsmakers to discuss recent developments in Colombia and the future of the Colombian government’s peace deal with the FARC.

Comments by Peter Hakim: 

Based on the available evidence and recent developments, is Colombia returning to war?

“What we’re seeing is armed groups who are obviously interested in getting access to resources. In some cases, it’s worthwhile for them to think of themselves as guerrillas, but by and large, I think there’s very little prospect of a return to the war that pervaded Colombia for 50 years.”

When [dissident FARC members] publicly announce that there is “no peace” and that “Timoshenko’s a sellout”, do the likes of Duque, Alvaro Uribe, and others become vindicated in the eyes of the Colombian public, particularly those who voted against the peace deal?

“I think it’s a very complex situation, but I think that making peace itself is always very difficult. Lots of people in Colombia have a deep-seated anger, hatred almost, for the FARC. They wanted them to be punished. They thought a war had been won and that they didn’t have to offer all kinds of generous conditions for a peace agreement, and there’s still that kind of anger at the FARC. At the same time, the relations with the FARC, guerrillas, and the illegal gangs in rural areas has very much to do with the internal politics of Colombia itself. In other words, a lot of Duque’s reaction to the statements to relations with Venezuela has to do not with only the potential for reigniting a guerrilla war, but for the internal politics of the country seen broadly.”

Let’s bring in the Venezuela angle now. Duque is blaming Maduro saying he’s supporting these ‘narco-terrorists.’ Is Maduro fiddling? Is Maduro helping the dissidents and trying to destabilize Colombia?

“[Regarding Venezuelan involvement in spurring opposition in Colombia] It’s very hard to sort through the evidence on this. I think there is a movement of armed insurgents between Venezuela and Colombia. I think Venezuela provides something of an ideological tie to the Colombian guerrillas, but on the whole, I think that Colombia’s problems go beyond the guerrillas. There are lots of old grievances, all old battles. There’s still a huge drug industry in Colombia. There’s illegal mining in Colombia. In the rural areas illegal activity and poverty predominate, so I don’t think that much of the blame can be placed on Venezuela. This has been Colombia’s problem for 50 years. It’s still Colombia’s problem. Certainly, it’s made worse if there’s some support from Venezuela, but I don’t think that should be seen as the central point.”

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Watch the full interview here