On October 2nd, 2016 the Colombian government received the results to a special election concerning the conclusion of a 52 year old civil war. This election held only two options; Yes to peace between the Colombian Government or no peace whatsoever.
The vote results stated that 50.2 percent of the Colombian people stated that there should be no peace. The other 49.8 percent stated that there should be peace. The peace talks for the Colombian Civil War have been in the works since June 23rd, 2016 when both sides signed an official ceasefire.
Though the vote for a formal peace failed, the ceasefire is still in effect. The Colombian Civil War began as any traditional civil war would, between the people and the government. In 1948, the populist political leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated. This and the aftermath of U.S. backed anti-communist repression in rural Colombia in the 60’s led to liberal and communist militants to re-organize into the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army (FARC).
What began as a containment method for Communism during the Cold War era would evolve into something else. Whenever President Kennedy sent the Peace Corps to Colombia for education in healthcare, agriculture or construction. It transitioned from a really good idea into something dreadful.
Overtime the volunteers turned into narcotics instructors for the American Mafia and the Colombian drug traffickers. The most prominent drug produced was cocaine, and the buyers varied from the U.S. and the E.U. So what began as a means of containing communism in America’s Backyard, evolved into the War on Drugs.
Officially, the end of Communist Containment ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the Soviets out of the picture, Cuba, Colombia and other smaller communist nations. Without the financial backing of the Soviets, both they and the Cubans withdrew support for the FARC and other Guerrillas cause.
It should be noted that the paramilitary groups and guerrillas involved in the conflict have been reported to be involved with sex and drug trafficking. However, both sides have been criticized for several violations of human rights laws. This includes the usage of child soldiers in the ranks of the armed rebels and government. The total casualty rate is 220,000 dead. The comparison for civilian/fighter is 177,306 to 40,787.
That’s not including the five million people who have had to vacate their homes between the years 1985-2012. About 16.9% of the population has been a direct victim of the Colombian Civil War. As it stands, both sides are attempting to obtain peace through diplomacy. This is likely due to the fact that this war has been around for over five decades.
Everyone talks about the Middle East and the horrors there, but no one really looks towards Latin America. Granted, many hold a vendetta against the horrors the members of various extremist groups are doing in not just our nation, but others. Still, how can we obtain peace in a land that we have no business in, when we can’t even aid in obtaining peace in our own backyard?