Peace in Colombia but Not in Cuba

The main causes

By Pedro Campos

The peace signing in Colombia on Monday Sept. 26, 2016. Photo:
The peace signing in Colombia on Monday Sept. 26, 2016. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — With consent from the International Community, peace agreements have just been signed in Cartagena, Colombia, between the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos and FARC guerrillas, resulting in the later becoming a political party and being able to take part in the national democratic system.

What has made this possible? What are the reasons and main causes that facilitated this peace?

There are reports that the leadership of Santos and the FARC’s Timochenko were key elements, and the fact remains that both leaders have played very important roles within their own institutions. They have persisted, negotiated patiently, made concessions and have acted intelligently and astutely so as to reach a peace agreement.

The majority of the Colombian people’s rejection of continuing the armed conflict, which has lasted for over 60 years, was very important. The population is tired of so many deaths, casualties and the insecurities that this conflict has created, even when a lot of people still don’t trust the virtues of the agreement.

The referendum on this coming Sunday will settle whether the majority of the Colombian people support the agreement that has been reached.

International conditions have also favored this agreement. The Cold War is over, the Fidelista government of Cuba has abandoned its policy of exporting “its revolution” by violent means and there’s a democratic US government which has stressed political and diplomatic solutions to conflicts.

Cubans are waiting for their turn. Photo: Juan Suarez
Cubans are waiting for their turn. Photo: Juan Suarez

However, the main factor, the determining reason for why this agreement was able to be reached, is the existence of a political system and government in Colombia founded on democratic principles which forces politicians, regardless of their political beliefs, to address governance based on national consensus, taking the interests of all parties into account and not just one of them, it doesn’t matter how much of a majority they have.

By default, this is the same reason why, essentially, we have never reached domestic peace in Cuba. Today, we aren’t in armed conflict, but there is still a lot of repression against peaceful opposition, political dissidence and even alternative socialist ideologies. And it’s precisely because we don’t have a government founded on democratic principles. One that doesn’t take into account the interests of every sector and sphere in Cuban society and which remains in power because they maintain the narrow views of the same group who have ruled the country for almost 60 years by force and weapons.

Raul Castro’s government has played an important role in Colombia’s peace negotiations and for that it deserves to be recognized. It has also made progress in reducing tensions with the US government and has managed to reestablish diplomatic relations with it, through a thawing process, which is systematically bombarded by the most stubborn sectors of the Fidelista government, domestic opposition and those in exile.

Today, international conditions also favor the road to domestic peace in Cuba; however, the absence of a democratic system blocks this road. A clear dialogue and democratization process would be enough to tear down the framework that supports the US embargo laws.

However, Cuban leaders, out of fear of losing control of the situation and seeing their state-salaried economic model overcome, persist in the peace of prisons, using repression as the key means to keep social control. They have been unable to start a necessary dialogue between everyone on the island in order to search for a route towards a democratization process and a new constitution which would allow Cubans from all spheres of society, regardless of their political beliefs, to participate in the country’s political, economic and social process.

We democratic socialists are convinced that socialism is not possible without political democracy and economic socialization. This is why we back every movement that proposes these objectives.

A Cuban student. Photo: Juan Suarez
A Cuban student. Photo: Juan Suarez

History has irrefutably proven to us that the jumbled state monopoly capitalism we have here, which has been imposed in the name of a non-existent socialism, hasn’t worked anywhere in the world where it has been attempted, ditto Cuba.  Cuban leaders know it too and that’s why they have tried to implement “reforms” that don’t take hold because they are applied inconsistently and even without legal foundation.

The Cuban people need peace and harmony in order to move our country forward, putting it in line with the new technological times we live in, contributing to the happiness of all Cubans, and improving the population’s living conditions. Today the great majority live below the internationally recognized poverty line, even though the State’s income would be enough to reverse this situation, if its distribution were more democratic.

Let’s hope Raul Castro’s participation in these celebrations for Colombia’s newfound peace extends to his comprehension of all the causes that have made it possible.