With the victory of Alvaro Uribe, the Columbian president-elect, the South American country has new hopes of shirking the Marxist rebellion that has hobbled the nation for more than thirty years. Elected by a landslide on the widespread platform of stepping up the fight against the Marxist-turned-terror movement, Mr. Uribe offers one of the world’s most violent nations a chance to regain some normalcy.
With nearly half of the nation controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, better known as the FARC, the people have made a clear choice where their future lies, and that’s in the court of freedom and democracy. As the ball bounces back to the United States, we must not fumble the opportunity to start with a clean slate in Columbia. Mr. Uribe has stated that he will seek support, from the United Nations if need be, to rid his country of the FARC on the left, and on the far right, paramilitary groups opposing the FARC. The United States cannot abandon the Columbian people to the United Nations. The populist support of the FARC has long since disappeared, and the rebel movement has degenerated into a private army for the drug industry. The Columbian people are hungry for a peace that has eluded them for decades. From past history, we know that the United Nations will quickly jump at the opportunity to plan a “peace keeping” force in a troubled region. It is paramount that the United States not default its role as protector of freedom in the world to those who feign democracy at the United Nations. Columbia is rich in natural resources. While petroleum and coffee are the country’s most important (legal) exports, cotton and cut flowers share an increasing role in the struggling economy. It is up to the United States to show the Columbian people that the direction of the economic future lies not in the violence associated with drug production, but in trade with the world. The United States must heed the call of Mr. Uribe and come to the economic assistance of the Andean nation- immediately.
The choices are clear. Leaving the problem to fester under the control of Marxist rebels only allows anti-American sediment to grow in the region. Defaulting nation building to the United Nations only gives the Bush Administration distance from a potentially politically hot issue in an election year. Building a powerful and broad based democracy is the most effective weapon against the FARC and its supporters, but it is expensive in both political and economic terms. We see that President Bush has no other choice but the latter. Bringing the war on terror to Columbia, with either US troops or US support will help end the fear that the Columbian people live under.
In our backyard, there can be no greater responsibility than that of assuring strong and able democracies in the Western Hemisphere. Columbia needs the investment of US companies. It needs the firm control of a national army that supports a democratically elected leader. The drug-lord-friendly FARC needs to be shown that the future of Columbia does not lie in a widespread terror campaign funded by the drug trade.
Stephen A. McDonald Bigtreenews.com