Colombia’s foreign policy seems to have bottomed out. And I say it seems because in that Latin American country there are always reasons to be surprised.
By Wafica Ibrahim – May 29, 2020
With the argument of the painful death of 22 young people by a bomb in a cadet school, in January 2019, the government of Iván Duque closed uncertain and lengthy peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the only guerrilla group with political discourse left in that country.
Since that date, the Colombian government has been demanding from Cuba, the guarantor country and headquarters of the truncated peace talks, the extradition of the insurgent delegation stationed on the island.
Guerrilla negotiators arrived in Havana following a request from the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and within the framework of an international agreement that establishes the security procedures to be followed in the event of negotiations breaking down.
That document was signed by the parties to the conflict: the Colombian State and the ELN; and also by the guarantor countries: Cuba, Venezuela, Norway and Chile. However, the current Colombian president, Iván Duque, does not recognize it.
RELATED CONTENT: FARC Rejects Arrival of US Troops in Colombia and Warns of New Aggression Against Venezuela
Cuba and the peace of Colombia
Since the years when Duque learned to read and write, Cuba had been supporting peace efforts in Colombia.
The gestures of the Caribbean Island in order to achieve the desired peace are many and have as a supreme symbol the friendship between Fidel Castro and the writer Gabriel García Márquez.
Colombian Presidents Belisario Betancur and César Gaviria had their brothers healed thanks to Fidel Castro, who always kept a policy of principles based on ethics, a legacy in Cuban diplomacy.
In 1980, 14 ambassadors from various countries, including the United States ambassador, and other diplomats, were kidnapped at the embassy of the Dominican Republic in Bogotá. Everyone, including the kidnappers, also owe Cuba their lives.
While the then Colombian government was preparing a rescue with Israeli advisers with a massacre as a sure result, Cuba managed a humanitarian exit that avoided a bloodbath.
Then came negotiating efforts in which Cuba collaborated in one way or another. Even in the governments of Álvaro Uribe, at the request of the parties, the Island helped as far as it could. And since 2012, it contributed enormous efforts as headquarters and guarantor of the negotiations that ended with the signing of the Final Agreement between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government led by Santos.
The dagger against Cuba
The identification of the current Colombian government with the US interventionist plans for Latin America and the Caribbea is known.
This can be confirmed by the active participation of Colombia in attacks of all kinds against Venezuela and in the OAS rebellion, including the re-election of the discredited Luis Almagro, as secretary general of that organization.
In the case of Cuba, Duque’s position regarding protocols for the breakdown of negotiations between the Colombian state and the ELN, together with the insistence on the extradition of the guerrilla negotiators stranded in Havana, presaged an anthological felony in current international relations.
After so much stubbornness from Colombia demanding Cuba extradite the guerrilla negotiators, an unsustainable request politically and legally, but wrapped up in a “fight against terrorism” speech, the United States achieved what it was clearly seeking: to place Cuba in an illegitimate list of countries that supposedly do not collaborate in the fight against terrorism.
But if the Colombian maneuver was dirty, it was to even more mean to celebrate so much villainy.
The (Colombian) High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, just a few hours after the announcement by the United States, called the US aggression against Cuba a “boost to Colombia”.
Former President Santos labeled this current Colombian diplomacy way of acting stupid. Another former president, Ernesto Samper, stressed that the attitude of the Duque administration towards Cuba “is a shame for the country, which thus begins to present itself as an international bully.”
As if that were not enough, the main media in the country established a position regarding the clumsy handling of diplomatic relations by Duque’s administration.
In an editorial, the influential newspaper El Tiempo highlighted Cuba’s help in the search for peace in Colombia during the last 50 years and warned that “an eventual distancing from Havana would not be a prudent option.”
For its part, the Semana Magazine titled a forceful column in defense of relations with Cuba as follows: “The Duque government contributed to give the coup de grace to the US relationship and Cuba.”
El Espectador, another main stream Colombian newspaper, published an editorial in the same direction, and so did a column of the politician Humberto de la Calle, who served as chief negotiator of the Santos government in the fruitful peace talks with the FARC.
De la Calle stressed that “Cuba has spared no effort to help end the conflict. The protocols signed for the members of the ELN follow a thousand-year-old practice without which conversations between armed antagonists would be impossible. It is unheard of to blame Cuba for honoring its word pledged to the Colombian government.”
How thorough must the current Colombian government’s submission to the United States be that it prefers global discredit rather than reject an order from Washington?
Featured image: Trump and Duque. File photo.
Translated by JRE/EF