October 6, 2016

STEVEN COHEN: Why Colombia Said No to Peace.

When he first arrived in the Putumayo Department in the early 1990s, Hesmar could still appreciate what the FARC seemed to stand for. “The state didn’t exist here, so they were the ones who served that function,” he says. “They would meet with the communities to share their ideals. Who’s not going to agree with schools and roads and health care?” But then the rebels got deeper and deeper into the drug trade, then deeper and deeper into extortion. Their justice became harsher and less discerning. One afternoon, his wife’s teenage daughter brought a police officer to their house without Hesmar’s knowledge, and the rebels tied him to a tree for two weeks—only sparing his life after his friends came to beg for it. To punish an uncooperative businessman, the guerrillas set fire to his gas station, blowing up an entire neighborhood, along with Hesmar’s cart. Hesmar’s wife was pregnant at the time, and for a while, he wasn’t sure what he would do to sustain his family. “They pretend to be for the people, but it’s always the poor who end up suffering,” he says.

Colombians didn’t say no to peace; they said no to a bad deal with narco-communists.

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