By Carlos Alberto Montaner
I start with what should be a footnote. I know that Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich are not the real names of the second and third ringleaders of the FARC – the first one is Timochenko –, but I mention them by the aliases they chose and by which the people know them.
I’ll get to the point. It was providential that the DEA caught Jesús Santrich and Marlon Marín, Iván Márquez’s nephew, with their hands in the cocaine jar.
It doesn’t matter that they deny it. There are videos, photos, recordings and the agents’ testimonies. Another accused in the case, Fabio Younes Arboleda, will soon add his own story to the overwhelming body of evidence. He is 72 years old and does not want to die in an American prison. He has asked to be extradited quickly to the United States. He knows that the first one to “sing” could receive a lesser sentence. He will sing La Traviata. After all, he is a right-wing gentleman accidentally involved in these adventures.
It was evident that the FARC would stay in the drug business. The only ones who apparently believed in the sudden regeneration of the communist narcoguerrillas were President Juan Manuel Santos and perhaps his squire Humberto de la Calle, now a presidential candidate who proudly exhibits what should embarrass him – he was the head of the official peace negotiation team, but that peace was just the enemy’s alibi to continue the war by other supposedly peaceful means.
Those who have lived for decades as outlaws do not give up a booty of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Earning an honest living is hard and can be boring. The FARC’s narcoguerrillas, at least the bosses, did not kill and risk their lives to end up selling cars or working long hours in a store.
When Santrich was asked if the leaders of the FARC regretted their crimes, he replied in a mocking tone with the chorus of a famous song: “quizás, quizás, quizás” (perhaps, perhaps, perhaps).
The heads of the FARC believe they have nothing to regret. All the blood and the pain they caused are part of being revolutionaries. Murdering, raping peasant girls, kidnapping children or adversaries, extorting, firing incendiary bombs at a crowded church or shooting helpless hostages was more compromising than selling cocaine to unhappy, gringo addicts. Why would they give up on drug trafficking? Did corrupt Colombian politicians renounce receiving bribes? Do corrupt entrepreneurs give up doing business under the table with rotten public officials?
The FARC didn’t have the purpose of fixing the system’s flaws. What they intended – and still intend – is to replace it with a worse system, like the one in Venezuela or Cuba.
The FARC renounced violence because its leaders did not want to die under an air strike, as happened to Raúl Reyes, Mono Jojoy or Alfonso Cano, and not because they respected the laws of the republic or the market economy system. All that actually makes them sick.
Santrich, a very radical ideologue, was going to occupy a seat in the Parliament, graciously granted by Santos the same way kings gave their friends titles of nobility. But Santrich was not going to legislate with wisdom – he was going to ignore the existing laws and dedicate himself to continuing to fill the FARC’s coffers with the profits of drug trafficking, this time protected by parliamentary immunity.
The political consequences of these arrests will be deep.
For Santos they are the evidence of a failure, while for former President Uribe the arrests prove that he was right when he vehemently opposed the peace treaty in a referendum that he won in vain.
Perhaps they will even promote the candidacy of Iván Duque and Marta Lucía Ramirez – who are leading the polls – so they might win the first election round on May 27.
Both ardently defended opposition to the peace accords – not the peace in general, but that peace in particular – and were outraged against the gift of 10 seats in Parliament – five in Congress and five in the Senate – because it seemed to them, and it really was, a mockery of popular sovereignty. It is the worst thing that could happen to the FARC. Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.