The Right Choice

Colombia is complicated and so is it’s peace process. After over 50 years of civil war, the Farc Guerrilla and the government led by president Juan Manuel Santos, finally signed a deal to end war. Now, the country prepares for a crucial plebiscite to support (or not) the final deal rebels and Government agreed on. The tension is high between the supporters of the ‘yes’ in favor of the deal and the ‘no’ against it. What should Colombians vote for?

To make it short: they should say loud and clear ‘SÍ’, yes. Sometimes I love to shock friends and colleagues by saying that I would rather vote ‘no’. Why? To wipe out some of the myth surrounding the Farc. The deal reached is not the best one. A leftist group that turned more into a criminal group than anything else, now will get so many benefits that a poor country like Colombia will have to explain. Economic benefits, educational programs and a health plan – all things a normal Colombian citizen doesn’t have – at least not in a working manner.

Lots of Colombians work for the basic salary 689,454 pesos (240 US$), the public health care and it’s EPS (Entidad promotora de salud) system isn’t working and there is a huge difference for urban and rural resident in access to health care; also education still faces important challenges as a raise in quality or to improve participation. All these vital aspects for a society were forgotten while the country concentrated on a ridiculous war with the Farc.

And now the rebels should get all of it? No. Or yes. Yes, because now the country can focus on improving all what is not working – and it’s a lot. Of course you need to pay for peace, of course you need to accept, that the rebels won’t even pass straight justice. The concept of ‘Transitional Justice’ sees an amnesty for those crimes committed during the rebellion. The Farc fighters will voluntarily declare their crimes, ask for pardon and as long as those crimes weren’t huge crimes against humanity it’ll be mainly pardoned: as long as they confess, participate in reparation programs and do not fall back – they won’t be in prison. A concept very difficult to explain to the victims and a system very easy to use as propaganda against the Peace Agreement.

So why pardon, why pay for criminals and why support them? Why ignore their drug trafficking history, the recruitment and abuse of minors, the systemized violation of women and the forced abortions? Why?

To get rid of those criminals.

To vote ‘no’ is not an option. Yes means no to the Farc, yes means that Colombia can focus on what really matters. Too many years were lost in a bizarre fight against a criminal group claiming leftist ideology, but spreading horror and bringing suffering to whom they claim to represent: the people. This is an historic chance to bring this criminal group finally down, to bring justice and welfare to forgotten and exploited regions. If Colombians vote ‘yes’ the Government can’t blame everything on the Farc, it will have to show how serious it is about welfare, about turning one of the world’s most unequal societies into a modern state. Today Colombia is a third world country, with a ‘yes’ – and only with a ‘yes’ – there is a chance to improve. If you want to get rid of the Farc, vote ‘yes’. Colombia is truly complicated.

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[Unedited version]