Bogotá, D.C., August 03, 2016 (CD).
“The incumbent Colombian administration, Congress majorities, Constitutional Court, and National Electoral Council intend to have Colombians vote Yes to plebiscite, while depriving them of the right to abstain, which will not be officially advertised. I am feeling it was yesterday when a group of teachers in 2003 – who were given all assurances – advertised (on TV) abstention against our referendum aimed at reducing public expenditure, shortening the amount of Congresspersons, and fighting corruption. Furthermore, this plebiscite deprives people of their right to vote blank, which will not be included in the paper ballot.
We have no other choice but to say Yes to peace by voting No to plebiscite. It is a courage reaction of collective psychology that considers that this plebiscite will end up in a short-lived peace risking abrogation, as it happened in El Salvador whose peace process was anonymously backed by the international community and led by the United Nations. In spite of thereof, 1993 total impunity act was abrogated few weeks ago. El Salvador has one of the world's highest rates of violence. Salvador administrations led by former guerrillas have paralyzed the economy. This shows that those responsible for atrocious crimes do not find any refugee in the planet.
It is a courage reaction of those of us who have no choice but to vote No to this illegitimate plebiscite. It is illegitimate because it includes one question only and its passing threshold was lowered from 50% to 13%, based on the excuse that this will occur once only, although this will be a precedent to do something similar for the ELN, criminal gangs, or any invented dictatorial group.
This is an illegitimate plebiscite because, by means of one question only, it prohibits Colombians from saying that they favor peace, but oppose impunity.
This is an illegitimate plebiscite because, by means of one question only, it uses the enticing cause of peace in order for Colombians to feel forced to accept conditions demanded by terrorists and leading to further violence.
Voting Yes to this illegitimate plebiscite does not prevent this Administration from deciding to overwhelm a community by more taxes, as a result of a presidential administration that proved unable to rectify, changed investment confidence by tax populism, and abandoned dialogue with people by capitulating to terrorists. This Administration proved so unable to rectify that abrogated austerity and instilled overspend and that, under the threat of bureaucracy and terrorists' intimidating guns, intends to coerce people's election will.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite would give the green light to restore our Democracy Armed Forces' confidence necessary to recover security, by a legal relief for their members without impunity, by not peering them with terrorists, and by not exposing militaries or civilians to admit a crime, even not committed, to avoid the risk of being jailed under a judgment made by the Court created by FARC whose judges will be appointed by entities, according to those profiles agreed by and between the parties in Havana.
From FARC ringleaders' repeated statements, one can easily infer that, by that court, they intend to establish a protocol for their acquittal and to jail soldiers, police officers, and civilians who have been on their way to destroy Colombia.
Instead of reforming our justice, it has just been replaced by the FARC court. Instead of making second instance the general rule in our courts under the retroactive effect legal principle, that court will be of a sole instance. That court will be empowered to supersede the Offices of the Inspector General and the Comptroller General of Colombia. By providing for an impediment to review its judgments in the future, some are unacceptably intending to refuse the universal and timeless principle of favorableness.
Voting Yes to this illegitimate plebiscite is the same as accepting total impunity, which, instead of dissuading offenders from further crime, awards them a champion prize and set an example for further violence. As a mark of respect for Colombians and their international reputation and family values, my administration extradited almost 1,200 people for drug trafficking. We did it based on the idea of disburdening new generations of being pointed the finger at them for allegedly being permissive in reference to drug trafficking. However, it turns out that the incumbent Government accepts that – regarding FARC, the world's biggest cocaine cartel – drug trafficking, a crime financing the worst atrocities, is considered a political crime, which means main offenders will be neither extradited nor jailed in Colombia, but become eligible for politics.
Impunity is an award for massacres, car bombs, and crimes such as recruiting children for warfare and its related harassments.
There are many people jailed in Colombia for abusive sexual acts. Our legislation has become more strict in search of respect to women and children.
This contrasts with total impunity given to FARC, which exempts from jail those responsible for raping girls who were forced to give themselves to ringleaders, become pregnant, and abort by threatening them with guns.
In addition to this tragedy, the incumbent Government makes a proposal for confusing tolerance and respect with indoctrination about children's alleged sexual freedom, denying that sexual decision depends on nature and that family, its examples, and its values are of the essence.
We are against the illegitimate plebiscite that accepts that policies on gender and defense of women's and minorities' rights are discussed with FARC, a group that has always been the example of raping women and destroying families.
This Government says justice will be done because investigations will be conducted, trials will take place, and judgments will be made in case of atrocious crimes. However, this Government is hiding that those who admit responsibility will not be jailed, but given eligibility for politics, resulting in pardon or amnesty forbidden for crimes against humanity. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court demands jail for these crimes. In its turn, the American Convention on Human Rights demands severe penalties. Ambiguous restrictions of housing and movement, which are in contradiction to the freedom preached by FARC to make political proselytism, are expressly exempted from jail or imprisonment as set forth in texts agreed.
In summary, neither imprisonment nor severe penalties nor jail nor proper sentences are provided for crimes against humanity, resulting in a disguised justice that is not justice.
We accept that regular guerrillas are not jailed, but reintegrated into society in a solidary and generous manner. However, failure to jail main offenders (not even for a short time) will be the midwife of further violence and create a legal risk of instability for the peace compromises, with no statute of limitations to correct that.
Ringleaders who demobilized between 2002 and 2010 were jailed. And others who chose to continue committing crimes will be exempted from jail as a prize. What can we expect in the future??
My contradictors used to say that an eight-year jail sentence for paramilitaries was not enough. And they were right. In spite thereof, many are now in favor of not jailing FARC guerrillas at all. There is no political science or sociological interpretation helping to prove that massacres committed by the former are evil and those committed by the latter are good.
Impunity means criminals' success, which increases disdain for law and humiliates victims, as sorrow is accompanied by resentment and not by forgiveness.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite means preventing those responsible for crimes against humanity from becoming eligible for politics and those who murdered people in Bojayá from becoming their authorities. Our democracy has permanently improved. Guerrillas asked for mayors and governors to be elected by popular vote. As soon as this was passed, guerillas started to coerce and murder authorities elected. What are they going to say to those who do not have the right to be elected, such as the thousands of average prisoners who committed less serious crimes than those committed by FARC, politicians who lost their investiture, or paramilitaries who cannot be elected either? Our democracy deserves not awarding eligibility for politics to those who caused bloodsheds
We do not understand that those who suffer from and to fight terrorism in the United States, France, Belgium, etc. accept impunity and eligibility for politics, as set forth in the peace compromises reached in Havana. Why Spain's politicians and media are lobbying for giving FARC the impunity they never gave to ETA?
Voting Yes to this illegitimate plebiscite means accepting that FARC, the world's third richest terrorist group, does not contribute one cent to reparate the victims, makes political proselytism by means of illegal monies, and buys guns to replace those decommissioned.
It is fine that the decommissioning of guns is discussed, but peace compromises are now promoted by means of uniforms and guns. Guerrillas continue to blackmail, to control territories, and to smuggle drugs and, with their money, may purchase any arsenal. Current deadlines indicate that the plebiscite will take place while FARC is still armed. Some topics appear to be unimportant but make many Colombians lose heart, such as monuments that would be built with the guns decommissioned.
In reference to concentration areas, we oppose places such as the Catatumbo region become concentration areas. FARC terrorists are there subduing unprotected people, imposing drug trafficking, and making the most of the border area where they find shelter under the neighboring tyrannical regime. We oppose places such as Ituango become concentration areas. FARC terrorists are there making the most of drug trafficking, illegal mining, and blackmailing engineers who are building roads to connect a hydroelectric power plant.
In reference to concentration areas, we oppose Castroist soldiers enter our territory. Cuban dictatorship supported Colombian guerrillas until the latter became autonomous and rich by drug trafficking. It has also invaded Venezuela and acts as a consultant for Maduro's tyrannical rule on how to address the humanitarian crisis by escalating repression.
So we wonder: Why does the international community disregard OAS role in the oversight of the process? Is it because of the Chavez' idea of replacing it by CELAC, an institution that excludes the United States and Canada?
Concentration areas cannot become the socialist bastions announced by FARC spokespersons.
What will happen with FARC urban militiamen? Are they going to the concentration areas?
While civilians are not being given clear assurances, why is FARC group being considered a partner of the State or a paramilitary group fighting paramilitaries?
Mixing institutions with criminals on the pretext of fighting other criminals operates as a permission for anyone to use violence.
Voting Yes to this illegitimate plebiscite means to work for a future ranging between minimum progress and destruction, such as in Venezuela where there is now more poverty than in 1998 when the Socialism of the 21st Century started, which is a political doctrine that terrorists could not impose in Colombia by murders and kidnappings.
Destruction of Venezuela started by pardoning the coup d'état participant Colonel Chavez, his election, and the imposition of his socialism, which he hid as a presidential candidate. However, FARC group does not hide its Socialism of the 21st Century doctrine. Every terrorist group shows its ideological facade. And this Government paves the way to FARC. Certainly, our private entrepreneurship liberties have been included, for future discussion, in the preamble of the peace compromises, in the President's letter expressing willingness to analyze Chavez's ideas, which was very celebrated by FARC, and in references to mining, trade, and agriculture. The lands act, a down payment to FARC, has led to a “machete” fight and many owners refuse to give up what they acquired in good faith. The environment and proper exploitation of resources are being used as excuses to empower FARC as a co-government in the countryside. And some try to make us forget that FARC terrorists have been the tormentors of the countryside. By establishing peasant reserve zones, peasants will be doomed to be poor forever and to never find partners who promote agricultural industries. These zones have been the terrorists' drug trafficking heavens and gun hiding places. These zones will no longer be discretional, but mandatory under the peace compromises. The Land Fund does not exclude properties owned by honest countryside people who, if pressured, will make a line in public offices to sell their real estate properties, further reducing production in the agricultural and livestock sector.
Chavez's Socialism expropriated producing companies, leaving Venezuela without food, with unproductive weeds, without basic or strategic industries, and with scarceness since there are no exports. Economics based on private entrepreneurship was nullified and oil was not enough in the end. In addition to this, rather than an economic crisis, Venezuela is now experiencing a humanitarian crisis.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite means telling the Government that the worsening of national problems due to its decisions will not be sorted out by leaving Colombia under the rule of FARC.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite means to pave the way for our nation's social progress based on security, inclusive and innovative private entrepreneurship spirit, universal quality education, and transparency in public or private activities. It means to pave the way for solidarity, which is the soulmate of economic growth.
In order to defend our peasants, we do not need the rule of narcoterrorism, but the rule of law, democracy, and liberties, which is above any election purchased and controlled by influencing voters by means of guns.
Chavez's Socialism seized freedom of the press. Colombian Government, by entering into agreements, pays some journalists and, by threats, tries to intimidate others.
Some say that this Government is not Castroist or a Chavez supporter. And I believe its doctrine is not. Nevertheless, it permits Castro's and Chavez's ideas and is paving the way for terrorists to run for public office in 2018 and, at the latest, 2022, just to show off and cover so many mistakes.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite means refusing the idea that the Government and FARC appoint themselves as constituents, based on the Congress' previous approval of the intention to make the peace compromises become an unamendable constitutional rule. In order to do so, they have announced that they will use the Geneva Conventions that led to establishing the International Humanitarian Law notwithstanding these conventions were meant to mitigate cruelty in conflicts, not to approve the divine and the human that this Government gave to FARC. It is so unfair to use Geneva Conventions in order to try to secure impunity for FARC who, by its violence, refused to observe them, the evidence of which are the hijackings of commercial aircrafts, the kidnappings of ambulance passengers, or terrorist attacks by using human beings with collar-bombs, etc.!
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite will help to create a historical memory that recognizes, as Alberto Lleras said, that our nation “has had ruins and foundations, and that our fathers have lived, worked, and suffered on its soil.” This is different from that historical memory that is about to both ignore that this democracy has built progress in spite of terrorism and imply that light was seen because of the compromise that, in the name of peace, puts Colombia on the unsuccessful Socialism of 21st Century track.
In spite of my mistakes and failure, my administrations made progress in security, investment, and social policies. We had 53,000 paramilitaries and guerrillas demobilized without impunity, without changing the rules of eligibility for politics, and without discussing the national agenda, thus making misleading plebiscites unnecessary.
In this cause of a stable peace based on voting No to plebiscite, we will work side-by-side with peasants, farmers, and workers who know that Venezuela's tyranny is not the right track and side-by-side with those entrepreneurs who refuse to sell the rope to those who intend to hang them.
In this cause, we will happily work hard and determinedly face a battle whose omens are difficult to predict and pressures are inappropriate, in order to address the risks that we never expected the current Government could expose Colombia to.
Years of life and experience enlighten us to continue to be as committed as usual, based on a better understanding of actions and goals and the trust in qualities of those who undertake to defend these ideas.
With patriotism, we are embarking on another Viaje a Pie (Voyage on Foot), as Fernando González did or as the character of The Vortex did, from La Guajira to the Department of Amazonas, from Cocuy's Rock to Cúpica Bay in the Pacific Coast, and passing by the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, which has been poorly defended by this Government for being afraid of the alliance among Nicolás Maduro, Daniel Ortega, and FARC.
This voyage will be another integration with Colombians, as it was talking to people to request and collect signatures for a public, peaceful, well-founded, persistent civilian resistance, which helped us confirm, in every Colombian's heart, the reason why our country will not fall in spite of this Administration.
This will be another opportunity to walk down the streets and roads of Colombia, as in April 2 marches, without scratching the walls or leaving wounds in people's memory.
Fernando González wrote that “Life is not a dream, but a voyage: a voyage on foot. And a voyage demands to be awake, doesn't it?
Embarking this voyage entails that we have to quit our habit of sleeping in order to be immune to the plague of 56 years of Castroism or 16 years of Chavez rule that people found to be longer than the One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite and redressing peace talks would contribute to give assurance to Colombians who, due to this Government's acts and for being afraid of compromises reached in Havana, embark on a voyage abroad with their belongings. Furthermore, several mayors from United States state that, until three years ago, they used to say goodbye to Colombians who were going back to their country; now, they are hosting them back.
Voting No to this illegitimate plebiscite helps to redress peace talks and give assurance to the whole nation and the FARC as well. The FARC, by being concentrated in an area, by keeping the promise of stopping crime, and by being given all assurances, would facilitate that progress is made in redressing the peace talks and our people may devote their lives to working, producing, creating quality jobs, and overcoming so many difficulties.
We undertake this campaign for voting No to plebiscite because impunity does not make hatred disappear but creates further violence, depriving victims of their right to be given assurance that violence will not be repeated, and because FARC, as their crimes are awarded with prizes and justified and they do not regret it, prevents many Colombians from feeling the relief accompanied by willingness to forgive.
All hands on deck! Firmly and carefully!
Álvaro Uribe Vélez”.