|Wall Street Journal Columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady|
Over the past several years a number of Human Rights groups, usually referred to as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), and the Colombian government have been in near constant conflict with each other over the twin issues of Colombia's struggles with the Paras (paramilitaries) and the FARC narcoguerrillas. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has accused these organizations of harboring or demonstrating pro-FARC sympathies and they have responded with the counter-charge that the Colombian situation must be viewed in the context of right-wing and left-wing violence taken as two halves of the same whole. But the approach of these various NGOs does not match the reality on the ground because the paras have entered into a demobilization process, which admittedly has revealed problems, but continues to be monitored by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS. The FARC have entered into no such agreement and they persist in holding hundreds of kidnapped Colombian citizens as hostages to force the government to cede a populated and agriculturally-viable section of the country's national territory to them as a prelude to entering negotiations for a peace settlement. The area the FARC are demanding is in the south-central portion of the country and contains mountainous land and the plains to its east which are quite suitable for the cultivation of coca, which the FARC use as a cash-generating source to fund their continuing narcoguerrilla operations -- they have in fact long ceased to be a guerrilla insurgency, it is all about the drug trade now.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has consistently maintained from early in his presidency that he would be willing to offer both the paras and the FARC a negotiated settlement to end their lawlessness provided that the solution created a lasting peace and did not compromise Colombian sovereignty. The paras accepted such a deal in 2004 and they remain within the demobilization phase of the implementation of that agreement, which has not been carried out to the full measure of its terms, especially regarding the protection of witnesses coming forth to testify against former para leaders, but complaints of the IAHCR monitors to that effect have been met with responses from the Colombian government and the IAHCR has reported progress (see link in 1st paragraph). The Colombian government has even been pursuing its own independent investigation of what is called Parapolítica (Para Politics), even to the point of prosecuting some members of the Colombian government for their ties to the paramilitaries. And earlier this year, Uribe's government extradited 14 top paramilitary leaders to the United States for failing to comply with the terms of the demobilization accords. It is not a perfect process, but it is underway and the Colombian government is honoring its obligations, though some human rights groups continue to criticize it for failing to act more vigorously.
But what of the human rights groups and the FARC? The real test was February 4 of this year, whenever more than a million people throughout Colombia and hundreds of thousands more elsewhere marched in opposition to the continued violations of human rights the FARC persist in committing by the holding of over 700 kidnapped hostages, many of whom have been held for years. Numerous human rights organizations refused to support the march, though they did show up for a subsequent demonstration protesting the paras the following month in Bogota, which was only attended by some 40,000 people by comparison. Thus was the mask lifted. The human rights groups are pursuing a left-leaning political agenda and have turned their backs on the hundreds now held hostage by the most powerful narcoguerrilla group in the world, who no longer engage the Colombian army in combat, but who still kill with wanton abandon.
I am referring everyone to the July 7 editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, who writes the Americas column for the newspaper. Her article "The FARC's 'Human Rights' Friends" puts it all in perspective. I quote: ". . . the already robust evidence that left-wing NGOs and other so-called human rights defenders . . . are nothing more than propagandists for terrorists. . . . Left-wing NGOs have made undermining the Colombian government's credibility a priority for many years. . . ." It is a very good read, and can also be found in Spanish at this link.