¡Necesitamos un Acuerdo Humanitario! — the need for a humanitarian agreement in Colombia

A humanitarian agreement to exchange or liberate hostages held by the FARC, as well as involving FARC members imprisoned by the Colombian government, is demonstrably the most efficient, safest and most prudent way to resolve the refugee impasse. The guerrilla force holds an estimated 800 captives under close guard, creating a very delicate situation for any military rescue attempt. For instance, in May 2003, the government launched such a rescue effort that resulted in the death of politician Guillermo Gaviria Correa and eight military detainees. The danger here is that as disgraced ex-president Fujimori turned to Peru’s military in a desperate operation to overwhelm the Tupac Amaru guerrillas who had seized the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Colombia’s president Uribe is fully capable of doing the same in Colombia. It is necessary for Uribe, whose measures have created hostility and risked confrontations both with Ecuador and Venezuela and within Colombia, to prove to the American people that Colombia is a fit partner to be in a free trade pact with this country. Therefore, he should take a positive step in the direction of peace and reconciliation rather than flirt with the idea that the government can work its will on the guerrillas through armed action.

As Professor Gustavo Moncayo, father of the captive Pablo Emilio Moncayo, a FARC hostage for the past 10 years, recently stated at a Washington conference, “there needs to be a humanitarian agreement where the two groups sit down on a table and start to lay out the solutions that each one wants. This needs to be supported and monitored by the international community.” During past government negotiations with the guerrillas, the lack of worldwide pressure on both sides proved to be a spoiler when it came to the peace process, essentially sabotaging its prospects for success. The world must learn from the lessons of the past, and realize that the continuous violence generated by both sides will only encourage additional rounds of hostility and violence in the future. As it is commonly observed in Colombia “Los muertos tienen familiares”, or “the deceased have families,” in reference to the culture of violence created and reinforced daily in Colombia. The narrow-minded and inherently risk-filled strategy of plotting to rescue hostages and assailing guerrilla forces militarily encourages this sterile cycle of violence. This produces nothing but the mounds of the dead. Let us not forget what a wise thinker once said, “an eye for an eye and then,…the whole world goes blind.” While the opportunity still exists, it is imperative to bring all germane parties to the table in good faith, in order to negotiate and keep one’s eyes focused on achieving peace, and in doing so, maybe doing God’s work.