Some comments, from my perspective, on the current situation in Colombia and its links with Maduro in Venezuela:
1. Production of narcotics: Coca plantations were reduced from 170,000 ha to 42,000 ha, now there are 188,000 ha according to the lowest estimate. There is a parallel increase in consumption, addiction and criminality such as extortion. Our economy is not in recession because of this plague of narco trafficking.
2. The cause of dangerous trend: The government has stopped spraying illicit crops to please the terrorist FARC. Manual eradication was reduced and it moves forward preferably with communities’ consent, that is, with FARC’s consent.
3. Justice for Farc: FARC has designed its own justice. Judges will be appointed by people permissive with terrorism and akin to FARC’s alleged ideology. FARC’s kingpins and their aides have been granted impunity and political eligibility in the case of any crime. Atrocious crimes, such as child recruitment and abuses on women, will remain in impunity. There is some restriction of freedom for the ringleaders. These sanctions are inadequate, they lack incarceration, and are inapplicable because those who are guilty will enjoy simultaneous eligibility for Congress or any other political post. Narco trafficking is accepted as a political related crime for funding rebellion, with full impunity, eligibility and no extradition. Simon Trinidad serves a sentence in the United States because of narco trafficking and the kidnapping of three American citizens, however, his accomplices enjoy impunity in Colombia.
4. Constitutional replacement: Our Constitution has been substituted by the agreement with FARC. This amendment will be in place during 12 years.
5. The government disregarded the plebiscite NO vote: The NO VOTE won the Plebiscite. The government reduced the legal threshold from 50% to 13% of YES VOTE. This victory was regardless of the massive international support, the limitless amount of money and the propaganda machine. The Government did not include substantial changes, and, with the non-understandable support from the Constitutional Court, did ratify the agreement through a proposition in Congress, in clear contradiction to the Plebiscite outcome.
6. Present and future: In suffocating democracy, the independence of institutions and the guarantees for the private sector, the current Government has not gone as far as Maduro in Venezuela, but the inheritance will allow the possible weak or pro FARC Governments of the future to adopt the same path. Poor people in despair, without hope because of the absence of private investment and affected by violence, will not appreciate the difference between our rule of law and the neighboring tyranny. Colombia needs deep changes, otherwise we are condemned to become Maduro´s second thought.
7. Rule of law, army, poverty and private sector: Colombia has been a solid democracy, not a dictatorship in transit to the rule of law. Our army has been respectful of the democratic institutions. Colombia has poverty and unequal income distribution not because of the private sector, but because the lack of many more and robust private enterprises. The agreement with FARC is a limitation and a threat to the private sector.
8. Children and guns: Only a few children have returned to their families out of more than 11,000 that were kidnapped. Our secret services, some years ago, estimated at 40,000 the number of guns in the hands of FARC. The President of Colombia expressed recently that the organization was going to give up 14,000, however, FARC´s members have announced that 7,000 guns will be let down. Nothing has been informed about the missiles and other dangerous weapons owned by FARC.
We cannot separate the case of Venezuela from our risky situation. Chavez and Maduro have been the supporters of terrorism in our country. The two largest organizations, FARC and ELN, have been protected in Venezuela, and with large presence in this country, they kidnap, extort, threaten and attack its citizens. Venezuela needs to remove Maduro and his regime and to adopt the rule of law with a strong private sector to overcome poverty. Maduro supports himself upon corruption, narco trafficking, the military, war planes, civilians with guns provided by the regime (Colectivos), and repression. They apply the Cuban version of dialogue as a way to scale up repression.
With all the respect,
Álvaro Uribe Vélez