The main actor, surprisingly, one of the most respected media in the world. And the hardcore idea, a fallacy about the FARC-EP.
Facts first: on April 16 The Economist, a serious and well-respected medium from London, published a weird and contradictory article on the FARC-EP, particularly, about the finances of the communist organization, described as enormous and ostentatious.
But where The Economist article turns kinky is on the very sources of the information. Literally, the newspaper explained:
“According to an unpublished study by government analysts, even after paying to maintain its fighters the FARC still had assets worth 33 trillion pesos ($10.5 billion) in 2012. (…) The cost of implementing any peace accord, which includes paying for demining and infrastructure, is likely to be $15 billion-30 billion over ten years. The FARC’s hidden fortune might pay for a big chunk of that.”
Comments to the above article piled up quickly. As the far-right wing of Colombian politics is strengthening its opposition to the Havana peace talks, this “serious” source of information fits like a glove. In the Álvaro Uribe narrative, this would be the confirmation of a weak administration - Juan Manuel Santos one- surrendering to the exigences of a “terrorist” and a “billionaire” organization, FARC-EP.
President Santos replied, preventing a major incidence of the article in national life. He denied the existence of reports from government analysts about FARC-EP finances, but confirmed that the Colombian state, jointly with Swiss, American and British intelligence corps, had been searching for FARC's money for the past ten years, without finding anything.
An unsuspecting reader could draw, at least, two possible conclusions out of this whole episode. The first, FARC-EP is an extremely disciplined organization as far as financing issues are concerned, capable of overcoming the joint vigilance of the Colombian state and international intelligence agencies. The second one, the Colombian government -and the international intelligence community- are astoundingly mediocre and stupid.
But the reality goes beyond this. The real difficulty behind tracking FARC-EP's international bank accounts and money-laundering networks is that in fact those accounts and networks do not exist. The FARC-EP are rebels, not mobsters. Our financing goes to struggle, not to personal enrichment.
The paradox of this public debate between a media and a president is, a part from the contradiction on information sources and cash amounts, the persistence of a lie: FARC-EP is, without any doubt, a group of billionaires. The aim seems to be similar to the argument of the old catholic catechist handling questions from the restless youngster about some mysterious dogma: “the Holy Mother Church has scholars for that”.
Pitifully for Santos and The Economist, peace -unlike faith- requires truth and reliable sources.