Colombia’s Other State
Colombia is in the middle of an electoral process that is leaving that nation’s liberals completely demoralized. Fooled by the alchemists’ tricks of Invamer, Datexco, and Napoleon Franco, they believed that the candidate of the Green Party, former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus, was on the verge of victory.
The results of the first round of the presidential election showed that Colombia’s institutional political reality is unchanged. Juan Manuel Santos, oligarch of Bogotá, in alliance with the media, military, and landowning notables, can command almost seven million votes, a total that virtually guarantees his accession to power. An administration more Uribista than outgoing president Álvaro Uribe’s is a likely outcome.
Being the head of state of Colombia does not imply executive power over the whole national territory. Since the 1960s, large swathes of the country have been under the control of various guerrilla movements, the most prominent and powerful of which are the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
The Colombian state and the FARC have been unable to negotiate an end to their eternal war. The FARC, therefore, cannot participate in constitutional politics. This means that an important segment of Colombian opinion (those that support the FARC) will necessarily be unrepresented in any electoral contest. Whatever objections one might have to the policies and actions of the FARC, it is impossible to deny that no organization could hold out for so long against the might of the Colombian armed forces, which are armed, financed, and trained by the U.S., unless it had some degree of real popular support.
As I have argued before, the Colombian pollsters have no interest in finding out what rural Colombians think. It is doubtful that they are even aware that those who live under the authority of the FARC exist at all. We ourselves, por ahora, do not have the capacity to extend our technology to them either. So we have no opinion information about those who back the FARC.
We do have however, a tremendous repository of opinion information, lasillavacia.com‘s massively successful collaborative poll. The participants in this Urtak were overwhelmingly Mockus supporters, who believed him to be fundamentally a politician of the center-right. If there is ever going to be a settlement to Colombia’s civil war, the positions of these people, the moderates, will be decisive.
What then, did lasillavacia.com’s participants tell us about the FARC? Here is a selection:
77% believe the FARC would be better fought with a pencil than with a weapon.
77% believe Hugo Chávez has links with the FARC.
75% believe the FARC are principally a group of drug traffickers.
69% believe that the FARC were justified when they first took up arms.
61% believe that a policy of drug decriminalization could be as effective as a military solution to the FARC problem.
40% would continue to fight the FARC in the same way as Uribe.
35% believe the guerrilla movement has a political or social reason for being.
8% believe that the guerrilla movement can be finished by simply killing the guerrillas.
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