Colombia: 52 Years of Civil War

Colombia: 52 Years of Civil War

What Started Out as Containment Changed into War.
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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?

Cover Image Credit: https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2011/11/09/23/pg-40-colombia-1-rex.jpg

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

But tonight that changed. I saw a post about how people who do not vote should be fined. I do not know why this ignited something in me, but it did. I have no problem ignoring every other person telling me to register to vote or vote a hundred times on my feed, but charging me a fine for exercising my right crossed a line.

Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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