Political Future for FARC Resides in Local Positions; Government Must Ensure Their Survival (E)
The government has been absent in some of these remote parts of the country. As a result, the FARC have served as a de-facto government, meeting the basic needs of its population and sometimes offering work as coca growers to small farmers. Additionally, they have given the sick access to healthcare and even imposed their own justice system and penal codes.
Historically, Colombian politics has been plagued by corruption and dominated by the interests of elites and large business groups. This system has created political disillusionment within a significant sector of the Colombian population, and is what the FARC has professed to be fighting against for so long.
The greatest political opportunity for the FARC is in these areas where their historical presence overlaps with widespread government disapproval. They offer easy access to locally elected positions of power such as city halls, assemblies, local action boards and even state houses.
Of course, the FARC‘s aborted forays into politics in the past continue to loom large over the entire transition.
The Patriotic Union (Union Patriótica – UP) was a political party born in 1984 as the result of a peace treaty between the government and the FARC. At its apex, the UP had nine senators, five house representatives, 52 councilors, 14 deputies and 23 mayors.
Paramilitary groups that were beginning to emerge at the time — which would later become the AUC — systematically massacred members and suspected supporters of the UP. Some of these acts were in coordination with the government. In total, they left between 3,000 and 5,000 dead, including two presidential candidates, which helped to wipe out the UP.
Something similar — albeit on a smaller scale — is now happening to the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica), a left-wing political movement which since 2012 has sought to recognize the victims of Colombia’s prolonged armed conflict. During their short time in Colombian politics, at least 120 of its members have been murdered, and many more have disappeared.
While the FARC must overcome serious challenges in order to ensure their political and social survival, the Colombian government must also provide effective security protocols to ensure that the left-wing militants will not be killed during their long-awaited attempt to join the political arena. Insight Crime