Uribe’s campaign Manager, Juan Carlos Veléz, admitted in an interview that the “no” campaign avoided educating people about the terms of the peace deal. Instead, they focused on inspiring a strong sense of “indignation”. Since this interview got picked up in the press, Veléz has been forced to resign, and is now being sued for electoral fraud.
From Colombia Reports:
“In the middle and upper classes we focused on the ‘no impunity’ and tax reform,” Velez said, “while in the lower class radio stations we focused on the subsidies for demobilising guerrillas…[and]on the coast we narrowed down the message to that were going to become like Venezuela.”
Additionally, the campaign got the support of Colombia’s Evangelical community after claiming the peace deal’s gender-specific part, mainly aimed at victims of sexual violence, was in fact an attempt to attack traditional family values and promote homosexuality.
This last point worked a treat. Just look at how this objectionable Christian website put it:
All the efforts that people dedicated to the defence of the family, and the hundreds of thousands of Colombians who marched to defend their children; all that would be lost according to the intentions of the government of Santos, the FARC and the homosexual lobby in Colombia, who are imposing gender ideology in the agreements as a necessary condition for peace.
On October 9th, a full week after the “no” side won, Uribe finally offered his terms:
Uribe stated that the war criminals should go to jail for 5-10 years. Sounds like the strict justice he’d been shouting about on the campaign trail, right? But, that jail time could be on something like a farm. And the kicker? Jail for convicted war criminals was already in the peace accord.
Three more of Uribe’s counter proposals – coca eradication, land redistribution to benefit landless and poor farmers, and FARC’s demobilisation and disarmament – were also in the peace agreement, in some form. Again, no reason why the small differences were worth risking war for.
This point is significantly different from anything in the agreement; Uribe wants to make it more difficult for indigenous people to protect themselves:
“The only point where Uribe’s proposals conflict with the peace deal is the community consultation that’s currently compulsory on indigenous territory for private enterprises, mainly mining and oil companies. Uribe seeks limitations to the consults ‘in order for them not to undermine the balanced development of the nation.'”
Uribe wants to scrap the independent tribunal, and instead use a tribunal that is a part of Colombia’s famously biased justice system.
Uribe wants the tribunal to only prosecute FARC rebels, and allow the 40,000 military or state-funded actors (many of whom are accused of war crimes themselves, including narco-trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and murdering innocent people in order to claim rewards) to avoid trial. Unless, of course, they volunteer to be investigated.
The current peace deal says that stolen land, much of which was sold by right wing paramilitary groups to large landowners, should returned to its original owners. Uribe wants to change the agreement to “recognise the existence of large-scale commercial production, its importance within rural development and the national economy, and the state’s obligation to promote this.”
In other words, the 1% who own 50% of the land in Colombia shouldn’t be forced to hand any of that land back, because they’re economically important. Uribe’s reasoning is that many of these large landowners bought the land from the paramilitary groups (who stole it) “in good faith”, so they should be allowed to keep it.
Do “no” voters believe that the above 8 points were what they were fighting for? No. They don’t change a single one of the main campaign complaints about the agreement. The impunity, the tax reforms, the civil rights part (their gay agenda), the subsidies, the political potential – all of this remains untouched by Uribe’s counter-proposals.
Colombia’s indignant “no” voters got swindled by Uribe (a.k.a. The Man Blocking Peace in Colombia), a jumped-up little fascist who makes the Brexiteers look like fibbing schoolboys. He stirred up fear, and now it’s an inescapable truth that his campaign was based on a self-serving lie.
From Explicar el fracaso (“Explaining the failure”):
“In Colombia, as in the whole world, the democratic struggle plays out between an old and tired political class (somewhat reasonable, as corrupt as always, and discredited by decades of ferocious criticism from us, the ‘intellectuals’) against another political class that is less reasonable, more corrupt than what is traditional, but charged up with populist slogans and foolishness. Populism, the vulgar demagogy, has triumphed around the world. Berlusconi was the prologue, because Italians are the magicians of ‘trending topics’ and invent everything first. Later came Chávez, Putin, Uribe, Ortega. Will Trump and Le Pen come next? Perhaps.
They are all perfect demagogues, kleptocrats who denounce the old kleptocracy. The people prefer to vote for them in the name of ‘change.’ A leap into the unknown? Yes. A leap into the unknown is preferable to the boredom of reasonableness. Reasonableness doesn’t provide votes: it produces yawns. And what the voters fear most is to be bored.”
So, it’s been a couple of weeks since the “no” campaign successfully rejected peace.
“We didn’t reject peace”, I hear them shouting from their taxis. “We all want peace, it’s just we wanted better terms! We don’t want to become like Venezuela! We want justice for the victims! We want a peace that’s fair!”
No. No they don’t. If they’d wanted peace, they would have proposed significantly different terms to what was in the agreement. So No, Uribe. No, Veléz. No, Paisas. They didn’t vote for a better peace. They voted to score political points against Santos, who they view as a traitor for even sitting down with FARC.
Thankfully, neither FARC nor Santos look like they’re interested in going back to war. So, these minor changes will be taken into account, Uribe will claim victory, and that little dictator will parade around the country imagining the cheers he receives as a mandate for overthrowing government and installing the fascist, neoliberal state he’s always dreamed of.
At least that won’t require a vote.
If you’d like to see how various English-language publications have reported on what’s gone on over the last month, here are some good articles to consider:
• Colombia’s opposition wants to modify peace deal — with a scalpel, not a hammer
• The Nobel Creates Another Twist in Colombian Peace Talks (New Yorker)
• [Students] March to Save Peace Deal (Progressive Farmer)
• A Vote Against Peace: Uribe’s ‘No’ Campaign (Council on Hemispheric Affairs)
• There is No Plan B for the FARC Deal (Atlantic)
• A Faustian Gamble (Jacobin Mag)
• The Century Long History Behind Colombia’s Peace Agreement (Washington Post)
• The Man Blocking Peace in Colombia (New York Times).
• Ten Analyses to Guide Reflection on a Tumultuous Week (ColombiaPeace.org)