While all eyes may be on the vote on October 2 when the registered voting public in Colombia will – hopefully – turn out for Si or No on the peace agreements, it’s key to remember that the Government requires only 13 percent of the total (some 4,5 million votes) to achieve their goal of pushing through the accords, my personal concern is not the plebiscite referendum itself but the following 180 days and beyond.
FARC guerrillas will begin to demobilize after October 2 and will start to move to zones of concentration around the country where they will start the disarming process and then six months later, are presumably, in the eyes of the Government, ready for civilian life once again. They will receive a subsidy for two years but what happens when this source of income comes to an end?
Colombia has to construct an economy capable of generating adequate incomes for those who demobilize, firstly from the FARC and then presumably from the Armed Forces as there has to be some sort of military reform. It’s a crucial question. If incomes are not created, those who have demobilized face the tempting prospect of returning to arms to earn their money illegally. This is potentially worse than the actual armed conflict in Colombia since there will be no formal chain of command and no central control as there is now.
The majority of the guerrillas are from the countryside. Can we assume that most of them will want to return to the countryside and an agricultural existence? Will agriculture, small-scale cattle farming and so on be sufficiently economically viable to generate decent incomes? If they are small-scale farmers, their ability to negotiate with major industry players will be limited. Are the mechanisms in place to permit a commercialization of their products at reasonable prices?
Is the Colombian State truly invested and interested in helping them organize cooperatives so that there are channels for the distribution of their products? When and how and from where will the will and money come to build the byways and highways needed so that these people can transport their products? Will there be the technological assistance to permit innovation in this industry?
It’s a huge challenge ahead for the Government and the Banco de la Republica.
On that note…..
However… it appears that the FARC conference has created a High Season for the Zona Roja
I will be travelling down to Caqueta and the Llanos de Yari along with perhaps 200 other journalists, both national and international, to the FARC’s X Conference.
So, I have a request for my readers and for the listeners of the Colombia Calling podcast as I will be recording Episode 156 from the camp alongside the guerrillas:
Do you have any direct questions which you would like me to put to members of the FARC guerrillas during my time there at the conference?
Write the questions in the comments box below this post.