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Tanja Nijmeijer

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Alexandra Nariño (Tanja Nijmeijer) is an international combatant from The Netherlands and member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Friday, 30 May 2014 00:00

Grab the headlines

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The way in which national and international media report on the agreement on illicit drugs made by the Colombian government and the FARC-EP deserves a closer look. The headline of mercopress.com, for example, reads: "Another chapter of Colombia peace talks closed; FARC admits links with the drug trade". Nearshoreamericas.com wrote: "Colombia Reaches Landmark Deal: FARC Agrees to Abandon Drug Trade". BBC Mundo: "FARC make commitment to break links with drug-trafficking, and so on". 

The overall impression might be that the entire agreement consists of a concession made by the insurgency, i.e. the acknowledgement of being drug-traffickers and the commitment of not falling into that behaviour again. But there is a big difference between being a drug-trafficking organization and being in contact with drug-trafficking in the light of rebellion. There's no need to make a scandal out of this: in Colombia, all but one or two presidents have been elected with drug money, and the whole society is permeated by corruption, drug trade and money laundering. All this should be discussed and resolved, but it would be an illusion to believe the consciously created myth that once the FARC demobilizes, drug trade will be wiped off the map.

All this could be summed up in one word: decriminalization

In order to better understand the agreement that has been made, it could be fruitful to offer a very basic summary of the agreement, accompanied by some clarifications. 

One of the most important aspects of the agreement is the governmental commitment to a 180-degree shift in anti-drug policy. Until today, within the framework of the "War on Drugs" repressive, punitive measures have been every-day's bread for poor coca-growers and consumers in Colombia (that is, the weakest links in the drug-trafficking chain), within the framework of the "War on Drugs".

However, that might change. The agreement talks about a substitution program, similar to the program proposed by the FARC-EP during the Cagu?n-talks (1998-2002). Manual crop substitution would be accompanied by social investment, infrastructure, health care and education in the affected areas. Fumigation would be used only in those cases in which there is no other option (like manual erradication). Punitive measures would be applied only against drug-traffickers and the financial capital involved with drug business.

All this could be summed up in one word: decriminalization.

Another important aspect is the acknowledgement that the internal conflict in Colombia has causes which existed prior to the appearance of drug-cartels and drug-trafficking; some people call this the de-narcotization of the causes. Herein lies the implicit recognition of the fact that the guerrilla movements in the country didn't rise up as drug-cartels, as some historically unaware people still believe.

The FARC considers that fumigation has caused so much damage (displacement, health problems, environmental problems) that fumigation should be immediately halted, without any further considerations

People's participation is an issue that cuts across the different points of the agreement. This means that all the decision-making processes that lead to the implementation of programs or plans, will be with the participation of the inhabitants of the areas where those crops (coca, marijuana, poppy) have been grown. The FARC-EP is certain about the fact that if the coca-growers are given another way to live decently, the overwhelming majority will take that opportunity, simply because the population doesn't grow coca by choice, but because of the social problems in those areas.

As in the case of the first and the second partial agreement, there are some pending points, called caveats, in this agreement. One caveat is the already mentioned fumigation policy. Although the government agreed to only carry out aerial spraying when it's the only option left, the FARC considers that fumigation has caused so much damage (displacement, health problems, environmental problems) that fumigation should be immediately halted, without any further considerations. Even more, the victims of fumigation should be compensated and a fund should be made available for that purpose.

Another important caveat is the FARC's consideration that a new criminal policy needs to be designed, if we want to combat and dismantle the criminal networks involved in drug-trafficking.

Let it be clear: the agreement on the item "Solution to the problem of illicit drugs" is something other than "a FARC agreement to abandon drug trade"

These and other topics will have to be discussed, preferably in a National Constituent Assembly.

Let it be clear: the agreement on the item "Solution to the problem of illicit drugs" is something other than "a FARC agreement to abandon drug trade". It's an agreement between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government to contribute to the definitive overcoming of the problem of illicit drugs, of which the transnational, financial capital is the primary beneficiary. Possible headlines could have been: "Is fumigation still necessary in the XXI century"" or "FARC and government: "War on drugs failed"". 

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 19:01
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