WOLA’s Adam Isacson’s false statements about Colombia’s peace talks
From Our Readers
Last week, Adam Isacson, Senior Associate with the Washington Office of Latin America, went on a tirade in his blog against noted Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady in a post he titled “Maligning Peace Talks and Inventing Facts.” Smug in tone and lacking in candor, Mr. Isacson accused Ms. O’Grady of staying on message and misreporting facts in her recent column about the Havana negotiations between the Colombian government and the narco-terrorist group FARC. Ironically, while Ms. O’Grady’s piece is both accurate in its facts and insightful in its conclusions, Mr. Isacson’s “fact-checking” piece reads like a press release for the Colombian government and the FARC (their propaganda is indistinguishable these days). Fortunately, one of our readers decided to fact-check the fact-checker. Following is her eloquent and thoughtful response:
Mr. Isacson’s article lashing out at Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O’Grady for her criticism of the peace talks is not only hilarious but also untrue.
I can understand how easy it is to romanticize FARC terrorists when the writer is sitting comfortably somewhere safe and out of reach of these criminals. But Mr. Isacson does not know what is going on with the “FARCical” peace talks in Colombia.
Following are some of Adam Isacson’s statements, followed by the facts:
1.Those who confess crimes will have sentences of restricted liberty: Not really. FARC refuses to confess any crime. In fact, they’ve declared themselves “victims.” Yesterday, the Justice Minister announced that FARC terrorists are free to choose the crimes they want to accept. Is this really justice?
2.Amnesties and suspended sentences will not happen: That is not true. President Santos already laid the groundwork for amnesties, declaring kidnapping and drug-trafficking political crimes, thus making them pardonable under Colombian law. And Santos himself has said amnesty is the only way to convince FARC to sign the peace agreement. FARC leaders have been sentenced to several centuries for their crimes and they have already been pardoned. Furthermore, FARC have demanded their criminal history be deleted and never again searched.
3.Having guerrillas engaging in politics is the goal of any peace process: If that is so, what is the point of a judicial system and the rule of law? If political eligibility is to be given to every criminal group, whatever name they happen to go by, then let’s all be governed by child rapists, kidnappers, thieves, drug-traffickers and murderers. If those terrorists had raped your daughter, Mr. Isacson, or kidnapped your mother and executed your wife after leaving you empty-handed via extortion, would you forgive them and vote for them? Don’t ask Colombians to do something that you wouldn’t. Giving political eligibility to any criminal group only generates more crime and more criminal groups.
4.FARC has released all their living kidnap victims and has suspended the practice: Not true. It is not exactly known how many people are still captive, given the FARC refuses to release that information. The FARC continues to kidnap people because Santos has not demanded that they cease this activity. We do know that more than 2,600 FARC kidnap victims still missing; the FARC refuses to say where they are.
5.FARC will have Congressional seats in temporary districts of their influence: Not true. Congressional jobs are not temporary in districts of their “influence,” but rather regions whose residents have been victimized by the FARC. No one else will be allowed to participate in politics; these seats will be exclusive to the FARC.
6.The government stopped aerial herbicide fumigation in response to WHO findings: Not true. The government stopped fumigation with glyphosate at the FARC’s request. There is a video where FARC leader Iván Márquez states glyphosate is hazardous to children and pregnant women — a disingenuous argument, as children and pregnant women have been brutally victimized by the FARC. Children as young as 9 are recruited as child soldiers, raped and sodomized and made into sex slaves. When girls get pregnant, they are executed if abortion is refused. The government stopped fumigation with glyphosate on coca crops but continues to use glyphosate to destroy weeds and protect food crops.
7.FARC will hand over weapons to the UN: FARC will not hand over their weapons to anyone; it is considered a defeat. They do promise not to use weapons while conducting political activity; but they have never specified they won’t use weapons for everything else, like kidnapping, extortion, and seizure of land and livestock from peasants and farmers.
8.The FARC has no assets: False. The Economist estimates FARC’s assets in US$10,500 million, which are kept mostly overseas. An investigation by the US government and the Attorney General of Colombia found that 70% of FARC’s investments are in the following countries: Germany, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.
9.Only demobilized guerrillas not accused of heinous crimes will be amnestied: Not true. All guerrillas, no matter what crimes they committed will be amnestied. This has been agreed to by Santos and the guerrillas themselves.
10.4,392 Colombians were killed by the armed forces: Nobody really knows this figure and it could be a lot less. You completely ignore that most cases against the military forces have been carried out using false witnesses who have also benefited financially suing the government and receiving millions of dollars in compensation. Just for your information, read about the false witnesses in the so-called “massacre of Mapiripan” and you will learn a lot.
11.The International Criminal Court peace tribunal will play a useful role: That is what all Colombians expect but the government has considered leaving the jurisdiction of the ICC so as to avoid having to abide by their ruling. It has proposed, instead, creating a new ICC under UNASUR’s jurisdiction, which is friendly to terrorists. UNASUR is led by Colombian ex-president Ernesto Samper, elected with drug trafficking money.
12.FARC has abided by a ceasefire for 9 months: FARC themselves admitted they violated their ceasefire. More recently, it was discovered that FARC terrorists are wearing ELN arm bands and continue their killing rampage.
13.It is false that FARC have links with the Urabeños, Rastrojos and Bacrim: FARC work closely with the Urabeños and Bacrim and even with the latter they have been negotiating their franchise.
14.Cuba has not been a state-sponsor of the FARC: It is well-documented that Cuba has financed the FARC since its beginnings. Quoting Castro’s denial of this relationship to prove his point shows either Isacson’s extreme gullibility or, what is more likely, an intent to deceive.
Mr. Isacson’s “fact-checking” is clearly off the mark. But here are some real facts that Mr. Isacson conveniently fails to mention in his defense of the so-called “peace” talks:
1.As the Colombian military forces are removing landmines, the FARC are installing new ones. They admitted to this practice and labeled it “self-defense.”
2.The FARC announced a year ago they were going to release all recruited children under the age of 17. A week later they backtracked, saying they never thought of releasing those already in their camps. Child recruitment has continued during the four years of negotiations.
3.Santos has promised the FARC that the nation will pay each demobilized terrorist a monthly salary of Col$1.8 million (about US$600). For months now, the FARC has been recruiting new members with the promise they will receive that money after peace is signed. The FARC is also strong-arming peasants to grow coca, bribing them with the promised post-conflict benefits from the government.
4.Santos’ land reform consists of seizing land from peasants and giving it to the FARC. Iván Márquez’s recently tweeted that they will not accept less than 20 million hectares of land.
5.In 2010, there were about 6,000 FARC members. After 5 years of Santos’ regime, their ranks have risen to 17,000. Who could have imagined that being a criminal could be so lucrative?
6.FARC terrorists insist the government military and police forces must surrender their weapons before FARC put theirs aside.
7.FARC terrorists and the Santos government refer to anyone who criticizes the peace talks — and is against Santos handing over power to FARC – as a “paramilitary.” The FARC insist that paramilitary forces must be destroyed or there will be no peace. In essence, they would “destroy” 89% of Colombians, as according to the latest poll, that is the percentage of Colombians against Santos and his “FARCical” peace.
8.Despite the FARC’s wealth, FARC leader Iván Márquez claims they have no money. Government negotiators seem to agree, so reparations to victims will come from the victims themselves: the taxpayers.
9.Colombians know not to trust the FARC. Ex-president Andrés Pastrana accepted all of the FARC’s demands in a previous peace negotiation, and went so far as to demilitarize a region of Colombia the size of Switzerland. FARC claimed they needed the area to organize demobilization, surrender weapons, etc. However, the FARC used this area, know as “Caguan,” to regroup, move kidnap victims, and continue extorting and drug trafficking until it became evident to ex-president Pastrana that the FARC was being deceitful. Still, in a recent lecture via Skype at Georgetown University, Iván Márquez falsely told unsuspecting students that the FARC built roads, schools and hospitals in the Caguan area and they were going to continue doing so because they know how to do it.