By Rakesh Choudhary
Amnesty for the FARC
The Colombian Congress has approved an amnesty law wherein many Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels will be provided protection against minor crimes which were committed during the conflict between the State and the rebel group that lasted for more than five decades. The protection granted to FARC rebels will be applicable to military soldiers as well. However, only minor crimes are exempted and serious criminal offences like killings, sexual violence, kidnapping etc. will be treated separately.
The amnesty law is a part of the revised peace agreement which is undergoing negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. The Congress’s approval for this law is a big step towards the conclusion of the peace agreement since the previous peace deal was rejected by the Colombian voters in a referendum.
Peace negotiations started between the government and the FARC four years ago at Havanna. The agreement was then put to vote in a referendum which was rejected by a thin minority. Now, a revised agreement is being worked upon which will be put to the Congress’s approval instead of a referendum. The Amnesty law is part of this agreement which also contains laws on land reforms, landmines removal etc.
What led to the crisis?
The crisis has its origin in the La Violencia conflict, a civil war triggered by the 1948 assassination of the Liberal party presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. It continued for 10 years between followers of the Liberal and the Conservative Party. It led to the death of more than 200,000 people. In 1958 a National Front government came to power after an agreement reached between both the parties. FARC was formed as a rebel group in 1964 against the government’s suppression of peasants and communists.
Based on the ideology of Marxist-Leninist, FARC claimed to raise issues of land redistribution and income inequality among the poor masses. Since then, the country is engulfed in violent conflict between FARC rebels and the government. The present negotiations are an attempt to bring an end to this protracted conflict.
Model template for future peace talks?
If the present deal ends up in a peaceful demobilization of rebels and the induction of FARC as a political party, as it is envisaged, this may even become a template for other crisis engulfed nations engulfed wrangling with peace talk.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort in the entire negotiation process. He attributed the success to military effectiveness, pragmatic diplomacy and co-opting various stakeholders including bureaucracy and the State police.
With the restored peace, investors’ sentiment will improve bringing inflows for the development of agriculture, industries and tourism.
However, to ensure that peace and stability persists, a sustainable effort towards the reconstruction of the nation is required.