Santos, Is It Time For a Peacful Settlement?


For almost a century the dominant classes of Colombia have refused to accept a meaningful land reform as a way to end the civil war. Segments of the dominant groups, such as the large cattle ranchers and large landowners, opted instead to build their own armies with the tacit and implicit collaboration of the state. By not changing in any meaningful way this bellicose and recalcitrant message, President Juan Manuel Santos appears to be following the footsteps of Álvaro Uribe Vélez and most of those that preceded them since the early 20th century.

What the Santos government needs is a change of course based on the acknowledgment that this protracted war has damaged enough Colombia’s social fabric. The Victims' Law is only one step in the right direction that needs to be followed by many others.

A good indicator of the degradation in the social fabric caused by the continuation of the war system is the critical increase in crime rates in some of Colombia’s main cities such as Cali and Medellin. These two cities now have some of the highest crime rates in Latin America (82 per 100,000 and 94 per 100,000 respectively). The issue is that criminal violence cannot be seen in isolation of the country's overall socio-political crisis that form an interconnected system of violence which these actors are part of.

It is time for Colombia’s democratic forces, and the Santos government, to push for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict as a way to deal with the root-causes of political and criminal violence.

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