I’m A Friend Of The Enemies Of Peace

By bogotapost October 23, 2014

Adriaan Alsema rejects the polarisation of Colombians into “allies” and “enemies” of peace

I’m a big fan of peace. Consequently, I’m a big fan of the fact that the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have decided to resolve their issues through negotiations rather than through trying to exterminate each other.

However, a lot of my friends disagree with me. In fact, nearly half the Colombian population disagrees with me. They have no confidence in the talks and – under the opposition leadership of former President Alvaro Uribe – they have consistently demanded these talks to end or at least be renegotiated.

This has caused both the government and the FARC to dub them “enemies of peace” rather than “critics of these specific talks.”

This pisses me off.

When I was in favor of peace talks before, or when I was being critical of Uribe’s political responsibility for the at least 4,000 civilians who were executed under his watch, I was called a useful idiot.

Because of my criticism of the previous peace deal with the AUC paramilitaries, my objections to Uribe’s ties to the Medellin Cartel and my disgust over the dozens of congressmen sent to prison for intimidating voters to get elected to office, I was a fool waiting to be taken advantage of by evil forces.

Supposedly, I was being so gullible about the satanic nature of the FARC that I was effectively helping terrorists by not being in favor of killing them.

It’s rather cynical that the killers get to call the peaceful “enemies of peace,” isn’t it?

The tables have turned now and I am officially no longer a useful idiot. My opinion is now considered moderate and fashionable. Both the FARC and the government talk to me in the friendliest manner because I support their current cause. I’m now a warrior for peace or something.

However, the tables have also turned for my friends. While they felt represented when Uribe was in power, they have now become a minority and the same thing is being done to them as previously was to me; they are stigmatized and marginalized, excluded from the debate.

But rather than calling them useful idiots they are being called “enemies of peace,” which in my opinion has an even more negative connotation. You can’t really help being an idiot, but being an ally or an enemy is a choice.

Just like my arguments against Uribe’s policies were legitimate, my friends’ arguments opposing the current peace talks are too.

My friends have different opinions to mine, but they are not my enemies. In fact, they are the enemies of no one. They are concerned citizens with not enough faith in the parties involved in the negotiations. My friends simply aren’t convinced that these talks are the best thing for Colombia. For all I know they may be right.

I have yet to meet a Colombian who trusts the government. Now, why would that be?

Could it be that they get suspicious when President Juan Manuel Santos, the person selling us peace, was – as then-President Uribe’s Defense Minister – in charge of the executing of at least 4,000 civilians? Doesn’t that make him a proven enemy of peace if not a war criminal?

And what about the FARC? Are they really in a position to call anyone an enemy of peace when they perpetuated death and suffering for 50 years, kidnapping and killing civilians, planting landmines, committing dozens of terrorists attacks and raping and killing thousands?

It’s rather cynical that the killers get to call the peaceful “enemies of peace,” isn’t it? The most violent act ever carried out by my friends was not voting for the president.

Rather than demonizing those who don’t believe the word of the same people who killed their families, I would like people to treat my friends with more sensitivity. It is vital that they are listened to, rather than being called names.

It is the critics of the peace process who are going to recognize fraud; it is them who will highlight possible imperfections or blatant corruption in the deal.

They are the ones who are eventually going to make Colombia a land of peace. They always have. The government and the FARC, on the other hand, have still failed to prove their loyalty and commitment to peace.

Adriaan Alsema is the founder and editor-in-chief of Colombia Reports, South America’s largest news website in English. Born and raised a Dutchman, Alsema has been living in Colombia since 2008.