Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Turmoil in Colombia

For more than five decades, violence and bloodshed have broken the land of Colombia, forcing civilians to either run in fear or join the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Operating out of the South-Eastern regions of the jungles, this terrorist organization has wreaked havoc for years.

WAR — Colombia faces terrorism.  Photo credit: Abigail Bock

WAR — Colombia faces terrorism. Photo credit: Abigail Bock

Now, according to the New York Times, FARC and their government have decided that enough blood has been spilt over this half-century long war. After the deaths of approximately 220,000 people, according to a report by the National Center of Historical Memory, both sides have seen enough.

Peace talks are now being held in Havana, Cuba, but several obstacles still stand in the way of agreement. After forging a modification to the constitution to allow for peace talks, the government of Colombia saw legal accusations against the law.

According to Helen Murphy, a writer for Reuters, the law was deemed constitutional by a Colombian high court.

“Gustavo Gallon, a lawyer with the Colombian Commission of Jurists, had filed the legal challenge to three phrases in the text of the law that he said would allow lawmakers to select which cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes, could be investigated and punished, leading to impunity for many,” Murphy said.

Though I can see where there might be worries for legal injustice, a bigger problem exists — a problem that has become evident in the past 50 years and in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have been either killed or displaced.

The wars and violence must end.

Hostility between the two sides saw a large spike after the failed peace talks in 2002, after which Colombia requested a large sum of money from the United States to combat the FARC.

Since then, the conflict has seen its peaks and valleys. Interestingly, the economy in this Latin American country has seen impressive progress. The Colombian peso has confirmed growth in the past decade, according to Matthew Bristo and Andre Soliani, reporters for Bloomberg Businessweek.

“The Colombian peso has rallied 47 percent in the past decade, the best performing major currency in Latin America,” Bristo and Soliani wrote. “Colombia’s IGBC stock index has gained 552 percent in local currency terms over the same period, compared to a 228 percent gain for Brazil’s benchmark Ibovespa index.”

Even as Colombia sees economic growth, there is an undeniable need for peace in this war-torn country. As I look at Colombia and even Latin America, I see a land that can achieve great things and jump hurdles that no one else can.

From boasting a dominant soccer team throughout the late 20th century to being the third-largest oil producer in Latin America to having a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Colombia has shown what it is capable of, even under the herculean task of making peace with FARC.

As Cuba plays host to two battle-weary belligerents, my hope is to see peace restored to the nation. How this will be done remains up to them. For now, we wait to see what happens when two warriors become weary of waging war.

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