Colombia presidential campaign ‘unworthy’ and ‘disgusting’: FARC commander

Posted on May 14 2014 - 10:13pm by TNN
Ivan Marquez (Photo: FARC-EP)

A prominent FARC leader took to the internet Wednesday to criticize Colombia’s presidential campaign process, which he said has devolved into “dirty water” flinging “from one plutocratic minority to another.”

Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez,” called the recently scandal-plagued presidential campaign “disgusting” and “unworthy,” and accused the candidates in general of ignoring the advances made during the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC, Colombia’s oldest rebel group, which he asserted would be “the most important” consideration any eventual winner will have to deal with.

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“We have observed with concern that certain candidates are ignorant about the discussions and the advances made in the peace process,” said Marquez, a FARC commander and one of the rebels’ lead negotiators in the Havana peace talks.

“The outcome of the elections will not be more important than the peace process, ending the conflict, and bringing about changes that will lay the foundations for a true democracy […] changes that we have been waiting for all of our lives,” Marquez said in the statement, released Wednesday.

“Politics in Colombia has to change for the good of all,” Marquez added, “to lay the foundation for peace with social justice, true democracy and sovereignty.”

MOREGovt, FARC to talk drugs again as Colombia peace talks recommence

FARC not alone

Though the FARC commander’s rhetoric tends to air on the side of inflammatory, others have made similar calls for a more dignified campaign focused, as Marquez put it, “political and social arguments, options, and statistical projects to move the country forward.”

Earlier this week, the independent electoral watchdogs from the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) called for a new presidential debate in the face of a growing number of charged political scandals, one that would encourage the “confrontation of ideas, discussion of theory, and presentation of postulated programs.”

The MOE apparently shares the FARC’s general belief that the election cycle has degenerated into ad-hominem and defamation strategies, which Marquez called “choleric diatribe and the incitation of hate.”

“The outcome of the elections will not be more important than the peace process, ending the conflict, and bringing about changes that will lay the foundations for a true democracy […] changes that we have been waiting for all of our lives.” 

While the MOE avoided making specific references, Marquez did directly mention the scandals surrounding the campaigns of President Juan Manuel Santos and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the two frontrunners heading into the May 25 election, as examples of the ways in which politics has taken over substance.

MORE: Zuluaga admits to having met with peace talks hacker, denies involvement in wiretapping 

MORE: Political uproar over 2011 govt negotiations with drug traffickers 

State of the talks

On Monday, the FARC’s negotiations with the Colombian government entered their 25th round, and will attempt to reach a definitive agreement on the topic of drug cultivation and trafficking, the third of six agenda items for the talks.

During the last several rounds of negotiations, proposals have been considered that would mitigate efforts to combat drug cultivation, and instead provide farmers with a viable alternative to their illicit crops. The FARC, in particular, has advocated for the decriminalization of drug production, whereas the government has emphasized the need for the rebels to cease any trafficking activity.

According to Marquez, the last round of talks saw significant progress. The parties, he said, have almost reached an agreement.

Should formal terms be reached, the next round of talks will move on to the subject of victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict, expected to be one of the more complicated and emotionally charged points on the agenda.

The negotiations will conclude on May 22, three days before Colombia’s presidential elections, in which President Juan Manuel Santos will be vying for a second term, largely on the perceived success of the peace talks.

Sources

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