The Obama Administration’s Hypocrisy in Colombia

 

JM Santos, Raul Castro and Farc Leader Timochenko

It should come to no one’s surprise that the Obama Administration quickly lauded the recently announced deal on justice between the Colombian government and the Marxist, narco-terrorist guerrilla group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  After all, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has used the Obama playbook on Iran to push through his historic peace accord with the FARC: Start negotiations without preconditions with a terrorist sponsor or organization, draw redlines only to capitulate later, and promise one thing to its electorate while doing the opposite.

Here’s what we know from the announcement. Special tribunals will be created to hold accountable those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity such as massacres, kidnappings, hostage-taking, forced displacement of citizens, recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence, and torture. The special tribunals will be comprised of a combination of Colombian and foreign judges. Individuals who confess to committing these crimes will serve a maximum of five to eight years in a restricted area, not in a prison cell (basically what FARC members are doing now). As for those who don’t admit to a crime, but are later found guilty by the tribunal, they will serve a maximum of 20 years in a prison cell. Additionally, FARC leaders are permitted to return to politics after implementation of the peace accord concludes.

What we don’t know is how will the judicial selection process work? Which countries are eligible to send judges? What responsibility, if any, is FARC accepting for their role in drug cultivation and trafficking? How will these narco-crimes be adjudicated? What will come of the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, generated from said cultivation and trafficking? How will FARC pay for reparations to victims? The list goes on and on.

Nonetheless, U.S. special envoy to the peace process, Bernard Aronson, has made it clear that the Colombian people will decide what is fair, not the U.S.,  “It’s the Colombians who are the victims of the war, and it’s the Colombians who have the right to decide on what terms they are willing to end this war … It’s not for me or for any American who doesn’t live in Colombia to say this is or isn’t fair.”

I agree with Aronson. But that isn’t likely going to happen. As mentioned in my post in August, Santos has been flirting with the idea of going it alone despite repeatedly stating in public that the Colombian people will have their say (through a referendum). Weeks before the announcement on justice, Santos blatantly denied ever saying that referendum was an option and compared it to “suicide.”  He is now currently seeking a special constitutional assembly giving him the power to ratify the deal.

Why does this matter?  Well, you wouldn’t know it from U. media outlets (case in point here) but the majority of Colombians oppose the terms as announced. A poll conducted by Opinómetro, days after, reported only 25 percent of Colombians support the proposed agreement, which is consistent with previous polls. Yet that didn’t stop Secretary of State John Kerry from doing exactly what Mr. Aronson said the US wouldn’t do … to say what is and isn’t fair. Apparently now entitled to speak on behalf of the millions of victims in Colombia, Mr. Kerry said, “…peace is now ever closer for the Colombian people and millions of conflict victims … and this will be their victory.”

Human rights advocacy groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch don’t view the deal with the same enthusiasm as Kerry and other world leaders do. In fact, they agree with the majority of Colombians and believe the deal as announced will allow many to escape justice, and “…while the special jurisdiction would encourage confessions, it would also allow those most responsible for mass atrocities to completely avoid prison, denying their victims the right to justice in any meaningful sense of the word,” said Americas Director of Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco.

So, Mr. Aronson and Mr. Kerry, which is it?  Should the victims have a right to say what is fair?  Are you going to speak up for the millions of victims you claim to represent and push for their voice to be heard?  Or are you going to continue to promote a deal whose idea of justice for some of the worst human rights violators is merely a proverbial wrist slap? Because right now, you stand with the likes of Cuban Dictator Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in supporting an administration that wants to bypass the voice of its victims.

 

 

Published in Foreign Policy, General
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  1. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Team Obama would be happy to see Colombia follow in the path of Venezuela, just like they want America to follow Cuba.

    • #1
  2. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    What happens to FARC still in the jungle cultivating drugs?   I haven’t seen anything about this.  (or anything on Colombia in our press)

    The fact is FARC was on it’s last legs, they were surrendering, trying to escape the jungle to avoid Colombian military’s relentless pressure.    Santos, Uribe’s highly successful Min Def was welcomed as  continuity.  What happened?    The FARC wasn’t an insurgency.  It had been a violent sub culture living off kidnapping and extortion.  It’s Marxist rhetoric was a village myth, a creation story that justified murder and extortion, not an ideology or a means to gain power in Bogota.  They were almost eliminated by the mid seventies but when we shut down cocaine paste from Bolivia and Peru which the Colombian cartels relied on, that  business moved to Colombia and needed protection and workers.  The FARC was a ready made criminal conspiracy to move in and was restored.  And for over thirty more years the Colombians, with European and American human rights groups harassing, fought them, negotiated only to lose territory until Uribe and Santos with our help brought them to their knees, killed their leaders and had them cornered and defeated.  So why accept a peace process in Cuba that sought to legitimize these violent criminals and help them survive?   Is it just Uribe Santos ego spat?

    • #2
  3. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Is Human rights Watch  worried  about the FARC getting off or senior military and paramilitary.   Most of the latter don’t admit to guilt because they were fighting the FARC; so do they go to prison for twenty years and the FARC leaders go free?

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    MJBubba:Team Obama would be happy to see Colombia follow in the path of Venezuela, just like they want America to follow Cuba.

    This is not an ok thing to say. Mr. Obama is trying to turn America into Cuba? He wants to play or be Castro? How is this any different to liberals saying conservatives are fascist?

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    John Penfold:So why accept a peace process in Cuba that sought to legitimize these violent criminals and help them survive? Is it just Uribe Santos ego spat?

    I don’t see what ego has to do with it-

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks for another good post about the crisis in Colombia. Please add a link somewhere to your previous post–I couldn’t find it just now–I’m sure people will find it interesting.

    • #6
  7. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Titus Techera:

    I don’t see what ego has to do with it-

    Both have giant egos, Uribe thought Santos was his man, but Santos was perceived to have eased up on the FARC  and Uribe and  the Uribistas went after him.   Santo’s Ministry of justice and Santo’s newspapers charged Uribe officials  with corruption.   So my question was why did Santos go into these negotiations whose only outcome was to allow the defeated FARC to survive and become legitimate.    Doing it in Cuba strengthened the FARC and Venezuelans who are clearly  Colombia’s enemies.   To establish himself as distinct from Uribe and as his own man with his own legacy would be Santos ego at play.  Going after Santos for changing his policy would be Uribe’s ego in play.     But it’s a question because I always thought the talks were a really bad idea and still do and can’t understand it from the standpoint of trying to end the conflict.

    • #7
  8. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Titus Techera:

    MJBubba:Team Obama would be happy to see Colombia follow in the path of Venezuela, just like they want America to follow Cuba.

    This is not an ok thing to say. Mr. Obama is trying to turn America into Cuba? He wants to play or be Castro? How is this any different to liberals saying conservatives are fascist?

    Mr. Obama likes Cuba and admires Cuba.   He does not like America and wants American influence abroad to cease.   Mr. Obama wants to strengthen the American presidency and strengthen the powers of the federal bureaucracy, while reducing the powers of state and local governments.   Mr. Obama wants expanded entitlement programs and greater government control over employers and landowners.   He has bragged about arrogating added powers to himself by brandishing his phone and his pen, knowing that the liberal judiciary and the toothless congress will let him get away with it.   He desires to emulate Castro and it shows.

    • #8
  9. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    The business with federal bureaucratic power is one thing–it seems quite reasonable–the business with liking or admiring Cuba is something you should be ashamed of unless you have some kind of evidence. Pray tell, what is your fantasy more specifically? The president admires the the torture & terror or the poverty?

    The desire to expand the powers of the federal government is at least as old as Wilson. It may be right or wrong, it may do damage to the Constitution, but it does not make anyone into the next Castro. You talk like one who has no idea that Castro was a student-terrorist rather than a lawful citizen-politician. You could just say, this is tyranny–that would be wrong, but at least it would not have this shameful ignorance about it. There is no parallel between the two. You might as well say Castro wanted to be the next Wilson on the strength of your argument!

    I hope you are capable of & willing to admit you’re going overboard here. It’s bad enough to have a president who is naively endangering his country, there’s no need to turn opposition to him into something just as unreasonable-

    • #9
  10. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Titus Techera:The business with federal bureaucratic power is one thing–it seems quite reasonable–the business with liking or admiring Cuba is something you should be ashamed of unless you have some kind of evidence. Pray tell, what is your fantasy more specifically? The president admires the the torture & terror or the poverty?

    I hope you are capable of & willing to admit you’re going overboard here. It’s bad enough to have a president who is naively endangering his country, there’s no need to turn opposition to him into something just as unreasonable-

    I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that President likes and admires Cuba.   He clearly thinks the Cuban government is admirable because of their durability and their commitment to  égalité  and  fraternité.

    I think Obama overlooks the torture and terror and the poverty because he dismisses them as primarily due to the difficulties imposed by U.S. sanctions and not due to the nature of communism.   It is OK with me if you think my opinion is overreach.   When I hear President Obama refer to the Cuban  “democracy”  and say that his new policy toward Cuba will be a turning point in the relations between the U.S.A. and all of Latin America,  that is what I think is overreach.

    • #10
  11. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    What is the source of this clarity? Is it your fantasies? Or has he said this? Or what?

    I agree with you that the man is mistaken. It is the wild, as yet unsubstantiated claims about his opinions or beliefs that make me shake my head. We hate it when the other side ascribes ugly motives to us-

    • #11
  12. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Titus Techera:What is the source of this clarity? Is it your fantasies? Or has he said this? Or what?

    I agree with you that the man is mistaken. It is the wild, as yet unsubstantiated claims about his opinions or beliefs that make me shake my head. We hate it when the other side ascribes ugly motives to us-

    President Obama has referred to Cuba as a “democracy.”   In his speech about the change in policy he described it as a turning point in relations with all of Latin America.   You can see the speech (scroll down past the Kerry transcript to get to the video):

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba

    Obama thinks that economic engagement will nudge Cuba to improve human rights, blithely ignoring all of the previous century of history of communist governments:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/29/us-un-assembly-obama-castro-idUSKCN0RT1VR20150929

    Obama’s policy changes regarding Cuba came from the recommendations of the Cuba Study Group.   These were described approvingly by apologists for the Castros.

    http://www.diariodecuba.com/search/node/Cuba%20Study%20Group

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=88545

    So,  perhaps I overstate what can be  known  about Obama’s thoughts and opinions, but I think the inferences are clear.

    (There is actually very little that is known about Obama’s thoughts and opinions, because the lamestream media have kept these a secret from the American people.)

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I agree with what you say here. But you yourself prove yourself a liar, & I do not know why. If you say now, Mr. Obama hopes that Cuba will improve its human rights record, then you cannot say also that he admires the tyranny that defines the Castros.

    You can say, his policies are misguided: They will not attain the ends we all think good! That’s true, but do not pretend than that he wants to be Castro & America Cuba, when you admit that he wants Cuba to be America & Castro Obama! We–you & I & Mr. Obama & everyone else who’s reasonable–we all want a decent regime, without what are called human rights violations!

    I agree with you that Mr. Obama’s opinions, even as they emerge in his speeches & deeds are unclear, to a large extent because the American media is remarkably inept. This, I believe, is true whether the media organizations conceive of their job as reporting political events or defending Dems or liberalism or Mr. Obama at any cost…

    But what you have inferred is shameful. I would agree with you that liberals, Dems, & Mr. Obama tend to whitewash, even publicly the crimes of lefty regimes & other tyrannies–rather selectively. I would agree, this is shameful. But let us not pretend that they want something other than what we want. There are real Dem Castro apologists, who apparently would rather have the Castros than not. But we have no evidence Mr. Obama is among them!

    • #13
  14. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Titus Techera:I agree with what you say here. But you yourself prove yourself a liar, & I do not know why. If you say now, Mr. Obama hopes that Cuba will improve its human rights record, then you cannot say also that he admires the tyranny that defines the Castros.

    Sure I can.   I can say that both are true.   He spent his first term whining about the constitutional limits on presidential powers, and has spent his second term pushing the boundary further and further into post-constitutional territory.   It is obvious that he desires the tyrannical powers of the Castros.   Nevertheless, he talks smack about improving Cuba’s human rights record, even though his own record on human rights is mixed (his Dept. of Justice has tried to rig and railroad everything from investigations of Trayvon Martin or the Ferguson police while ignoring blatant crimes within the federal bureaucracy, and his Defense Dept has killed un-tried American citizens with drones).

    So, I assert that both are true.   If Obama is content to act out those contradictions, I am content to point out those contradictions.

    • #14
  15. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Titus Techera:…

    I agree with you that Mr. Obama’s opinions, even as they emerge in his speeches & deeds are unclear, to a large extent because the American media is remarkably inept. This, I believe, is true whether the media organizations conceive of their job as reporting political events or defending Dems or liberalism or Mr. Obama at any cost…

    The lamestream media are not consistent.   They spend odd years pretending to be journalists according to the old model in which they report on events and give factual information, which they sometimes still do, just to keep up appearances.   Then they spend even years practicing “journalism” according to their new model, in which they serve as an extension of the Democratic Party campaign.

    • #15
  16. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    There is no proof whatsoever that you have offered that Mr. Obama has any feelings whatsoever for the Castros. Chafing against constitutional limits is what presidents do. Reagan wanted to repeal term limits for the presidency & was candid about it. That does not make anyone a tyrant & even if a president had tyrannical inclinations, to say that that means he admires or wants to imitate Castro is a leap into darkness.

    You need to grow up enough to feel shame for saying shameful things. You have no evidence, only a shameful need to smear a man who spent his life in legal politics in a decent country. This should not be acceptable to any decent person. I do not see how you do not see that you need to abandon this kind of thinking instead of making wild defenses.

    To repeat: Tyrannical ambition in a man has nothing to do with Castro. Castro is not the first nor the last tyrant, nor is he the ne plus ultra of tyranny. There is no way to infer the particular from the general. It is a desperate attempt to justify what neither can nor should be justified.

    & the desire to exercise more power is not necessarily tyrannical–it is something with which most, if not all president wrestle. Only an ugly man could fail to see that this tendency to a large extent comes out of a deep desire to help other people & to do good where one feels one can.

    • #16
  17. Scott Myers Inactive
    Scott Myers
    @ScottMyers

    Titus Techera: Thanks for another good post about the crisis in Colombia. Please add a link somewhere to your previous post–I couldn’t find it just now–I’m sure people will find it interesting.

    I believe it’s already embedded in the post but here you go….

    http://ricochet.com/colombias-peace-process/

    • #17
  18. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Scott Myers:

    Titus Techera: Thanks for another good post about the crisis in Colombia. Please add a link somewhere to your previous post–I couldn’t find it just now–I’m sure people will find it interesting.

    I believe it’s already embedded in the post but here you go….

    http://ricochet.com/colombias-peace-process/

    You right! I missed it when I first read through! Pardon the bother-

    • #18
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