Lessons with Farc for the ELN (I)
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Dialogues with the ELN begin and many of us wonder: has the government learned from the mistakes of the past? I want to draw some conclusions, without pretending that they are all, about the lessons that the negotiation with the FARC left us.

In 2016, the FARC demobilized 13,957 men – who today have a monthly salary for life. In compliance with the agreements, 2,124 criminals who were in jail were released. The Prosecutor’s Office said that the FARC had accumulated a large fortune of 22 trillion pesos, however, the Santos government did not demand a percentage of that, instead, it asked them to be the ones to inventory the goods, and the FARC said that they only had 967 billion pesos in assets. Of that, they only delivered 4%. In the next 15 years, the agreement will cost the country, according to the Fiscal Framework, 129 billion pesos.

We are left with the criminals against humanity sitting in Congress, without votes and with seats and with resources that the State gave them for 9,847 million. And rampant impunity, no “alternative” sentence by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. The only decision on a guerrilla that has resounded is the amnesty for rebellion on Granda -the Chancellor of the Farc- who has a red circular from Interpol for the kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of the former president of Paraguay.

Although the demobilization of those armed men improved security for a few months, the happiness did not last long. In August 2022, the country already had 13,101 new men under arms, only 800 men were missing to fully replace the number of demobilized. We have said, but it must be repeated, drug trafficking is the main cause of violence in Colombia.

The matter was not taken into account in the agreement with the FARC, there was no disclosure of routes, nor partners, nor truth about that which is the fuel of all violence. On the contrary, the announcements of payments to growers, the ban on fumigation and the “new policies” to deal with drug trafficking generated the excessive growth of crops. We reached more than 200 thousand hectares. It is worrying that these “new policies” on coca are the same ones that the Petro government wants to continue implementing.

Legalization does not solve the problem for two reasons; First, it must be a multilateral decision accepted by consumer countries. It is useless to legalize in Colombia if it cannot be exported. Neither in the US nor in the EU have they shown signs of legalizing cocaine, on the other hand they have decertified and penalized countries that do not combat it. Second, its legalization does not immediately mean the legalization of the markets.

Colombia has a deep-rooted culture of illegality, for example, gold mining is legal in Colombia, and yet 65% of mining is illegal and finances criminal groups. They use the legalization discourse as a shield to do nothing. They say they are looking for new policies to combat drugs, but they are very similar to those of the Santos government, we can venture to say that they will fail.

The ELN has 2,743 men under arms, 2,654 men in support networks made up of 71 armed structures, 6 rural war fronts, 1 urban war front, 1 international front, with incidence in 21 departments and 167 municipalities. The ELN is federated, so it is not clear that it has unity of command.

If, as many experts maintain, each ELN front is free, how many negotiating tables will be necessary? After the negotiation with the FARC, some failed to comply and others did not want to join the dialogue, and that the FARC had unity in their command. How do you ensure that they deliver what they promise? Even more so when they give new wings to Iván Márquez who signed and defaulted, they tell the ELN that even by signing they have the right to default and later, when it suits them, to negotiate again.

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