Colombia: Farmers massacre fuels hardliner Uribe’s re-election bid

The massacre of the 34 coca farmers in Colombia’s North-Eastern region – presumably - by leftist rebels came as law and order president Alvaro Uribe seeks for an unconstitutional re-election bid.
It is not clear yet who was behind the atrocity, but it is clear who benefits from it. Colombia’s hardliner President Alvaro Uribe’s unconstitutional re-election bid will gain new strength after the murder of the 34 coca farmers in the North-Eastern region of this South American country.

Police force and analysts believe that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC by its initials in Spanish, were behind the massacre. The reason, they explain, could be the guerrillas’ trying to regain the territory they had lost over the years to paramilitary groups. According to them, the paramilitaries have been engaged in disarmament talks with the government of President Alvaro Uribe, and had recently pulled back some of their forces from the area where the violence occurred.

However, the information could not be independently confirmed, although some witnesses and survivors told authorities that the FARC was behind the  crime as the village where the worst massacre in years took place, San Martin, was supporting the right-wing paramilitaries and providing them with coca leaves for producing cocaine.

The paramilitaries, though long tied to the drug trade, began disarmament talks with the government after the US officials indicted three top leaders on drug trafficking charges and sought their extradition. But while the paramilitaries talk peace, human rights groups and foreign diplomats say, they have not abandoned the most important drug-producing regions, like the isolated swath of jungle near the Venezuelan border where Tuesday's attack took place.

The atrocity came at a particular political moment in Colombia. Conservative leader Alvaro Uribe is trying to drive his 70% popularity into a re-election attempts that violates Colombia’s National Constitution. To do so, he needs to call on an amendment that calls for a special majority in the Congress, whose members are reluctant to provide with.

As Uribe bases his popularity among Colombians on his hard line against the left wing guerrilla’s forces, if as it looks, the FARC was behind the massacre, it will increase people’s pressure over the Congress to support re-election plans. So, the result of the massacre will be the ratification and the radicalization of Uribe’s right-wing tendencies, very clear for any journalist that had a chance to meet him.

At the same time, even when it is not clear who committed the crimes, the FARC does not look like to understand this, as keep on preferring to frustrate any peace attempt. They did it with the moderate former president Andres Pastrana – in fact, they played the fool with him- and they are doing it now in spite of international efforts.

FARC’s tactics are not casual. They are very usual in movements that have lost their ties with the masses, to lose their own way, then.

Hernan Etchaleco