U.S. Reps Back Impunity Deal for Colombian Terrorists
The sponsoring Congressmen should have analyzed the document before backing the deal. Uninformed international support helps the Santos-FARC well-oiled propaganda machine; but it undermines the will of more than 80 percent of Colombians who have consistently rejected impunity and political eligibility for FARC terrorists, according to Gallup polls
By Lia Fowler*
On December 15, the Colombian government and the narco-terrorist group FARC signed a Victims Agreement, following more than three years of “peace” negotiations in Havana. A violinist played the “Ave Maria” and white candles burned at the signing ceremony, which one U.S. blogger described as “a day of miracles and wonder.” But the theatrics of the event could not, in the end, conceal that the Agreement offers neither justice nor relief for the millions of victims of the FARC – one of the most brutal terrorists groups in the world. And the only wonder here is that some members of the U.S. government support it.
There were no miracles, for example, for the children still held captive as soldiers and sex slaves in FARC camps, estimated by the government to number about 2,000; no miracles for the more than 2,700 kidnap victims still being held for ransom, according to non-governmental organization Los Que Hacen Falta (The Missing). And there were no miracles for the thousands displaced, maimed or killed because of landmines the FARC admits they are still planting – despite an agreement on landmine eradication, which proved as false as the Victims Agreement will.
Yet on the day of the Santos-FARC announcement, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AZ) and four other U.S. Congressmen introduced a resolution supporting the negotiations with the FARC and commending President Santos for his “leadership.” Given the timing of the resolution, it could only be viewed as an endorsement of the deal.
Indeed, when initially asked for comment on the resolution and the Victims Agreement, Rep. Gallego said in an emailed statement, “The Victims’ Agreement reached during the Colombian peace negotiations is an important step towards ending the longest-running conflict in our hemisphere.” He added, “I appreciate the sincere efforts made by President Santos to ensure that the rights of victims to compensation, protection, and justice are respected at the talks.”
But the timing of the resolution begs the question: did the congressmen read the agreement before endorsing it? The 63-page Victims Agreement was a tough read. It took Colombian victims’ advocates and Human Rights organizations several days to analyze the document and reach the conclusion that it was, in the words of Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas: “a piñata of impunity.”
It’s an accurate description. According to the document, FARC terrorists will not serve any jail time — most will be pardoned. Those in leadership positions who admit to committing crimes against humanity – genocide, child-soldiering, sexual-slavery, etc. – will be sentenced to community service projects. And despite the FARC’s considerable wealth as the world’s leading producer of cocaine – it is ranked by Forbes as the third richest terrorist group – the agreement does not require the FARC to pay one cent to their victims. Reparations will be paid by the State, which comes from the victims themselves in the form of taxes.
More dangerously, the Agreement allows for those responsible for heinous crimes to have political eligibility. In effect, the country could, through coercion and corruption, end up governed by the same genocidal criminals that have victimized the population for decades – a scenario made more likely by the fact that the FARC only agreed to “lay down” down their weapons, not give them up.
Fernando Vargas Quemba, Director of the National Committee for Victims of the Guerrilla, established in 1991, put it this way in a telephonic interview last month: “Either we forgive the FARC and crown them as rulers of Colombia, or they will kill us, our children, and our families.”
Vargas Quemba has advocated for victims of the FARC both locally and before the International Human Rights Commission for decades. For his efforts, in 2011, he was the victim of an assassination attempt. But despite being one of the leading victims’ advocates in the country, Vargas Quemba has not once been included in the negotiations. Perhaps the team in Havana knows his position: “Peace can never be built upon the corpse of Justice.”
The Victims’ Agreement, then, stands in stark contrast to Rep. Gallego’s statement and his resolution, both of which
highlight justice and meaningful reparations. Asked for clarification on this point, in an emailed statement the Congressman sidestepped the issue, saying, “Our role is to support the process, not criticize the substance of the agreement.” As to the timing of the resolution, an emailed statement from the Cogressman’s office claimed it was “a coincidence.”
The sponsoring Congressmen should have analyzed the document before backing the deal. Uninformed international support helps the Santos-FARC well-oiled propaganda machine; but it undermines the will of more than 80 percent of Colombians who have consistently rejected impunity and political eligibility for FARC terrorists, according to Gallup polls.
It’s time for our Representatives to stop supporting the vague and specious rhetoric of “Peace,” and start focusing on the substance of the Havana agreements – which, if ratified, will inevitably lead to the triumph of a narco-dictatorship in Colombia.
* Lia Fowler is an American journalist and former FBI Special Agent