‘Yankees, Come Home’

No one can deny the importance and impact that United States collaboration has had in the war against terrorism and drug trafficking in Colombia. The FARC would not be sitting in Havana — and ‘Timoshenko’ traveling to visit their students — if it were not for the combination of their one immense military effort covered by the financial and technical resources of the Colombia Plan.

The United States has played a catalytic role in the consolidation of the state’s military and policing capacity. Over the last decade and a half, the close collaboration between our two countries definitely changed the course of the internal war. In a situation of constant strategic advancement of guerrillas and drug trafficking in the late ’90s, it went on the offensive and managed to corner the enemies of democracy. No wonder many supporters of terrorist groups and organized crime denounced the Colombia Plan, screaming “Yankees, go home.”

Now that the opportunity has come to move from war to peace, it is necessary to ask “What role should the United States play in this phase of reconciliation?” The role of countries like Venezuela and Cuba does not require much elaboration.

But it is not prudent, to say the least, to address such a process with such immense consequences for the country and for the hemisphere without a foreign policy strategy explicitly involving the country that has been its main wartime ally. Peace is not simply achieved thanks to the goodwill of the enemies’ friends. In that fight, the state’s allies are also indispensable.

The Santos government, the foreign minister and Ambassador Luis Carlos Villegas have taken an important first step. President Obama and his effective diplomatic machinery have expressed generous support for the peace process which cannot be taken for granted.

Those who know the environment of Washington know that for a Democratic administration to support a process of negotiations with a group formally classified — under American law — as drug traffickers and terrorists involves a significant act of trust in the country. Furthermore, to support a process which involves the Republicans’ nemeses, Cuba and Venezuela, precisely when the electoral environment is heating up, is not exactly something easy to swallow.

The answer to the question of what follows with the gringos is essentially very simple. Just as the United States has been the best wartime ally, it could, without doubt, become the best partner in peace. Not as an unwelcome guest that produces supportive statements, but rather as a real player in the construction of the final solution to the conflict.

I would venture to guess that the comrades in Havana spend half their time speculating on what the United States will do in this or that situation. And they would do well to do so, because a stable peace requires solving many issues which intersect with the regional and global interests of that country.

In addition, opening the door to the United States would cause their generosity and goodwill to pour forth. Many peace processes became feasible because Americans have played a key role. Just ask Ireland or South Africa. Furthermore, having the United States on the side of reconciliation is a deterrent to domestic enemies of peace. And there are other external issues, too. The presence of the United States opens up new channels for dialogue and changes agendas with Cuba and Venezuela, something that is very welcome for the region. Yankees, please come home.

Dictum: confusion and fear are reigning again. It is the time for philosophers. We must think of a new vision of the world which will save us from the apocalypse.

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About Stephen Routledge 108 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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