War and Peace The Colombian Civil War
The discussion in this context focuses on analyzing the Colombian civil war which occurred in 1964. There are different sections for part 1, and these include providing an overview of the conflict, a brief history, peace promotion and maintenance, and the conflict aftermath. Regarding the overview, the research indicates that the Colombian civil war specifically started on 27th May 1964 (Luna). The conflict was due to various concerns regarding land access, battles between the capitalist and communist ideologies, and peasant populations’ marginalization (Steele). The Colombian conflict was prompted in the early 1960s by various political, economic, and social factors affecting the Colombians. Mainly, the conflict arose with intentions to overthrow the then Colombian government and install a Marxist regime. This was to ensure the rights of the poor in Colombia were respected and protected from the government’s increasing violence (Steele and Livia 588). Besides, the conflict would help fight for social justice, order, economic stability, and protection of the citizens’ rights and interests through communism.
During the time, the Colombian conflict was mainly between the central government of Colombia and the (Feldmann 97). The civil war in Colombia included the various guerilla groups, including peasants and communists, fighting against the government. The leftist guerilla group movements included the National Liberation Army (ELN), while the Colombian government included the Colombian army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Initially, the conflict war was a low-intensity type of asymmetric war, which later escalated intending to increase the influence of Colombian territory by parties fighting each other. Important international contributors to the Colombian civil war were the United States, multinational corporations, Cuba, and the drug trafficking industry (Feldmann). The ultimate and proximate cause of the Colombian civil wars included the economic principal force that influenced socio-political issues among Colombians. This led to agrarian reforms, which caused armed conflicts in years to come for Colombia. There were major agricultural exports in Colombia, but the invoked peasants were moved to unsettled areas, hence, being marginalized (GutirrezSann and Jenniffer).
Various peacemaking attempts have been made to promote and maintain peace in Colombia following the extreme effects of the war on the people (Luna). Various incidences indicate efforts made to end the war amicably. The first bid for peace was in 1984 on 28th March. President Belisario Betancur launched peace talks with the FARC (Ronderos and Daniel 13). This was done under a bilateral truce. However, this peace initiative broke down in 1987 following the assassination of a presidential candidate by the right-wing paramilitaries (Grajales, 30). The candidate was from a party allied to the FARC party movement. Additional similar talks about making peace in 1991 and 2002 also failed. In 2012, new peace talks with FARC were launched on 4 October by President Juan Manuel Santo’s government (Ronderos and Daniel, 16). However, the peace bid was weakened by the loss of FARC’s top leaders. On 2016 23 June, the government and FARC signed a peace deal, a definitive ceasefire, and a disarmament agreement. On 24 October, President Santos announced that a final peace deal had been reached, and it was put to a referendum on 2nd October 2016.
The Colombian conflict led to significant consequences for the Colombians. This describes the aftermath, which has had long-term effects on the Colombians, especially the civilians (GutirrezSann and Jenniffer). Approximately more than 220,000 people have passed on since the conflict began until today. A larger percentage includes civilians to approximately 177300 Colombians (80%) while the rest, roughly 40000 (20%), were the combatants involved in the civil war. Furthermore, more than 5.7 million civilians have been displaced from their homes from 1985 till today. This has created a worldwide legacy in producing the second-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) (Steele). Approximately 16.7% of Colombians are direct victims of the civil war, whereby more than 2 million children have been displaced while others killed (GutirrezSann and Jenniffer). Among other impacts include the disappearance of Colombians, which have not been recovered yet.
The parties involved in the conflict are still recovering from the conflict. The civilians are the most affected individuals (Gordon et al. 699). They are languishing in poverty as the economy was destroyed during the war. Only a few in power have a better living standard, and the larger part of Colombia’s population is determined to maintain the peacebuilding prospect. The parties further indicate that the civil war led to violence that has sustained Colombia with inequalities and undermined peaceful coexistence (Piccone 28). Furthermore, the parties indicate that various insecurities, poverty intersections, and exclusion threatens peace sustainability in Colombia.
However, there are still major instances of the political economy of violence where the vulnerable in society face security threats, especially following the coca eradication program. Such is termed as violent peace whereby local threats and insecurities still threaten the post-conflict context in Colombia. There is an unequal distribution of wealth, exposure of the poor to violence, and disguising of crimes by underserving the poor (Gordon et al.). Therefore, the parties involved have not fully recovered, and this responds to the conflict that transformational change may not be attained due to socio-economic inequalities and violence (Nilsson and Luca 242). This affects the ability of Colombia to develop a sustainable and meaningful peace. Chen et al. (86) further elaborate that the conflict aftermath has pushed Colombians to accept the fate of the war. However, the civilians are the most affected physically, cognitively, and mentally. Such has influenced them to seek religious coping, hope, and forgiveness.
Part 2 Deeper Context of the Conflict
There are different contributing factors to the Colombian Civil War of 1964 (Luna). For instance, the economic principal force that influenced socio-political issues amongst Colombians defines the ultimate and proximate cause of conflict. These economic factors led to the creation of agrarian reforms and hence influenced the occurrence of the armed conflict. For instance, there were major growth instances of agricultural exports. However, only the rich would engage in these businesses while the poor population remained peasants in these agricultural farms. These invoked peasants resided in unsettled areas while offering the rich’s farms cheap labor. Furthermore, there was increased land grabbing by the land speculators or landlords who sought to attain profitable new haciendas in specific economically dynamic regions (Hynes-Bishop 136). This illustrates a major context of marginalization to the vulnerable in society, thus, giving rise to the rural conflict in Colombia.
Agriculture was the source of various economic activities in Colombia. When there was increased corruption on who should own the farms, conflict and extreme violence was fueled between the government and the peasants, who formed the . The conflict arose with the intention of Colombians emancipating themselves from liberal landowners and political elites. Besides, the previous assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a political leader, facilitated the riots and lootings afterwards. After his death, the various violent acts also influenced the 1964’s Colombian conflict (Carson). After the “La Violencia” in 1948, guerilla groups were formed to contain liberals fighting against the government and conservatives. “La Violencia” influenced the outbreak of the Colombian civil war in 1964 following the formation of ELN and FARC (GutirrezSann and Jenniffer). The war was a fight to ensure peasants were freed from oppression by those in power. It escalated as the guerillas had to engage in self-defense activities against the attacks by the government.
The Colombian conflict of 1964 started with an invasion whereby the government invaded the opposing groups that formed the communist context. Therefore, a military assault was launched in Marquetalia, focusing on stopping the offensive attacks by the opposing groups, including the bandoleros led by Manuel Marulanda (Feldmann). The military attack lasted for approximately one month after 27 May 1964, when 16000 troops were taken to 1000 civilian ground. The camps were surrounded while the escapees were forced to reunite to take over the government, thus, leading to a civil war. Before the war erupted, there were tensions between the government and the group of communist guerillas and peasants as the opposers. This was after the “La Violencia” ended while civilians remained to be peasants after their families had been killed and were living in deplorable conditions. Therefore, the issue of insecurity, poverty, and unsustainable peace caused the tension. Their main focus for fighting the government was to achieve sufficient land reforms and sustainable security.
Political scientists believe there was more than one reason for the war to start. Maher and Andrew (2142- 2172) indicate that economic forces were the main causes of the Colombian conflict. There were significant economic inequalities in agricultural contexts, and peasants were often marginalized by the rich who engaged in agricultural exports. Secondly, Colombia was a weak state, referred to as the banana republic. It was dominated by foreign monopolies leading to poor power balance and shifting. Besides, there was an unequal distribution of public wealth to Colombians and power violence. Other causes of the Colombian civil war (1964) include the landscape, US policies, malicious opportunism by non-combatants, and long durations and spin-off balance (Maher and Andrew).
While analyzing the future, the researcher indicates that the guerilla and the Colombian army stand as a team towards fighting impunity, insecurity, poverty, and any form of inequalities. Both groups have the necessary skills, knowledge and training to ensure Colombia acquires its target goals as a nation, especially within the political, economic, and social contexts. All these factors require efficient development and implementation of various policies to protect Colombia’s identity (Carothers and Andrew). However, this may take time, unlike what Colombians expect, as both groups must learn to trust each other with and without weapons. Over time, they should be capable of working together and applying skills learned from the various internal skills over the years in protecting Colombia’s territory.
During the Colombia civil war period, the economy was not good. For instance, only the elite in Colombia engaged in the agricultural production export. Most Colombians were poor due to the continuous displacements and killings. Those in unsettled areas often worked as peasants on these farms for low wages. This indicates an unequal distribution of Colombia’s wealth and welfare resources. Such affected the Colombian people and led to increased poverty among most Colombians, especially during the war. Although there have been changes in the economic growth, Colombia still struggles to attain better income concentration and per capita.
Carson, Austin.Secret Wars. Princeton University Press, 2018. Print.
Carothers, Thomas, and Andrew O’Donohue. Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization. Brookings Institution Press, 2019. Print.
Chen, Zhuo Job, et al. “Trauma and well-being in Colombian disaster contexts: Effects of religious coping, forgivingness, and hope.”The Journal of Positive Psychology16.1, 2021: 82-93.
Feldmann, Andreas E. “Colombia’s Polarizing Peace Efforts.”Democracies divided: The global challenge of political polarization, 2019.
Feldmann, Andreas E. “Revolutionary terror in the Colombian civil war.”Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 41.10, 2018: 825-846.
Gordon, Eleanor, et al. “Power, poverty and peacebuilding: the violence that sustains inequalities and undermines peace in Colombia.”Conflict, Security & Development, 20.6, 2020: 697-721.
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Grajales, Jacobo. “Private Security and Paramilitarism in Colombia: Governing in the Midst of Violence.”Journal of Politics in Latin America,9.3 (2017): 27-48.
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Maher, David, and Andrew Thomson. “A precarious peace? The threat of paramilitary violence to the peace process in Colombia.”Third World Quarterly39.11 (2018): 2142-2172. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2018.1508992
Nilsson, Manuela, and Luca Gonzlez Marn. “Violent peace: Local perceptions of threat and insecurity in post-conflict Colombia.”International Peacekeeping27.2 (2020): 238-262. https://doi.org/10.1080/13533312.2019.1677159
Piccone, Ted. “Peace with justice: The Colombian experience with transitional justice.”Foreign Policy at Brookings(2019): 1-31. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/FP_20190708_colombia.pdf
Ronderos, Sebastin, and Daniel Marn-Lpez. “Rebels at War, Criminals in Peace: A Critical Approach to Violence in Colombia.”Rethinking Marxism(2021): 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/08935696.2021.1999764
Steele, Abbey.Democracy and displacement in Colombia’s civil war. Cornell University Press, 2017.
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