Saturday, March 22, 2008

News on the Peacefront

A hot war was perhaps avoided here in Santo Domingo last week as the presidents of Columbia (Uribe), Venezuela (Chavez), and Ecuador (Correa) faced off around a round table along with other Latin American presidents.

For those who are not following the war on the Southern front – in Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia – the news is that Columbia went over into Ecuador’s territory and assassinated Raul Reyes, spokesperson and the second in command of the FARC forces.

When the leader was killed, the Columbian forces captured two computers which contained documents indicating that both Chavez and Correa had been aiding FARC with money and training space.

Before the meeting of the Rio Group here, there had been a peace march by resident Columbians and friends, led by a young friend of mine, Sebastian Molano. That march was part of global peace march, organized on FACEBOOK, by young Columbians around the world. Columbian youth are the second largest users of Facebook. They are tired of war. They are tired of having all Columbians labeled as “narco-trafficers”. They took to the streets around the world to express their displeasure with the activities of FARC.

I do not know if that demonstration boosted the resolve of the Columbian government to more aggressive action to eliminate the armed resistance to democratic rule, but I suspect that it did. I am very proud to know this young Columbian and see all the others around the world like him who are willing to stand up for peace.

And, although I am firmly committed to peace, I am not naïve enough to believe that governments have yet reached the point where they can simply will away armed resistance.

Last week was a major step forward towards peace in the region. Before the meeting, Ambassadors had been withdrawn, troops had been sent to the borders. Things were very hot. The week following the meeting here, all diplomatic relations were restored and Columbian and Ecuadorian singers assembled on the border to give a concert for peace. Truly Amazing.

The presidents of Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentine, all gave their opinions on the issue after Uribe and Correa had had a chance to read their statements and speak with one another face to face. I was able to watch the proceedings live on TV. My favorite speaker was Kirchner of Argentina, one of Latin America’s two women presidents, who chided the men on their petty and moody behavior, observed that they needed perhaps a bit of time to get control of their emotions, and observed that women were indeed the more intelligent of the two genders.

The Dominican President, Leonel Fernandez, who is standing for reelection here in May, guided the proceedings with grace and insight. He led the group to draft a resolution which, in the end, had Columbia apologize to Ecuador for violating their territorial rights without informing the government first. But both Ecuador and Venezuela were recognized as having aided an armed insurrection against their sovereign neighbor.

It was a brilliant moment in the annals of peacemaking which should not pass without a great celebration.

I continue my work on bringing peace between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, who have not resolved their differences since their war in 1844.................

But there are reasons to be hopeful. Fernandez is getting global recognition as a peacemaker.

1 comment:

Michael Deibert said...

Yes, as someone who has been highly critical of Leonel Fernández on a number of issues during his second
mandate, it seems to me that he nevertheless played an extremely constructive role in moderating the
vitriolic dispute between the leaders of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. It looked to me as an admirable example of statesmanship, in fact, and I thought he should have gotten more recognition for it.