Who Fights Colombia’s Wars? Jacobin Looks at Santos’s Promises to Abolish Military Service (E)
“In the 2014 election campaign, Santos seemingly recognized the unpopularity of military service. He claimed that, should the peace process prove successful, it would be abolished. There is now no sign of this happening. In fact, the period of service for those who have not graduated will be increased, with all such soldiers now serving for two years.
“There have only been a few half-hearted measures at reform. For instance, one can now secure legal employment and gradually pay for the libreta over the following months. Obviously, this will continue to make life difficult for the poor.
“The Colombian military is one of the biggest human-rights abusers in the Western Hemisphere, so this practice of forced recruitment is far from its greatest crime. It pales next to the widespread killing of civilians to boost kill counts — euphemistically known as “false positives” — or the collusion with right-wing paramilitaries in the displacement of millions. Nevertheless, it is one of the most glaring examples of the appalling inequality in Colombia.
“Since independence, the Colombian state has acted almost entirely in the interest of the rich and of private industry. Over the course of the current civil war, the Colombian military has continued to uphold the privileges of the few, while forcing the masses to serve as its foot soldiers.
“Hopefully, Santos’s promises to abolish military service will eventually prove to be in good faith. So long as the lives of the working class are treated as dispensable commodities, the country will never achieve a lasting peace.Kieran Duffy, Jacobin