Do you feel lonely? Awash in self-pity? As though the whole world is plotting against you?
Youâ€™re not alone. This affliction seems to be common among those involved in the Colombian governmentâ€™s negotiations with paramilitary groups.
- â€œI look once again, to my left and to my right, in front and behind, and I donâ€™t understand the solitude in which the international community has left us.â€ â€“ AUC leader Salvatore Mancuso, at the demobilization of the Mojana Bloc in Sucre, 2/2/05
- â€œThe enormous solitude that has marked these months of arduous work has been very difficult to bear, and the attitude of an important sector of the international community remains troubling. â€¦ We are overthinking this issue. I have never seen such a heavily conditioned peace process.â€ â€“ Sergio Caramagna, head of the OAS Mission in Support of the Peace Process (MAPP-OEA), quoted in El Tiempo, 11/10/04
- â€œEven in the midst of this legal confusion, the solitude of the process, the disinformation, the opportunism, the professional discrediting, the incomprehension, the hypocrisy â€¦ the movement of peasant self-defense groups will end this year by turning in an enormous arsenal.â€ â€“ leadership of the Central BolÃvar Bloc paramilitaries, 11/24/04
- â€œI basically think that there was a political plot against the government; the negotiations for a Truth, Justice and Reparations bill were broken unilaterally just as the Cartagena donorsâ€™ summit was occurring, in a deliberate effort to put the government up against the wall and to portray us as favoring the paramilitary groups and supporting impunity. â€¦ What took place here was a political ambush against the government.â€ â€“ Luis Carlos Restrepo, Colombian government high commissioner for peace, 2/4/05
A recurring theme of the paramilitary negotiation process has been the AUC leaders’ efforts to portray themselves as "victims," their good intentions spurned by skeptics who have withheld full support to the process. The best response to this ploy comes from conservative matriarch Ayn Rand: "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent."
Self-pity alone is not going to win support for these negotiations. Participants should do less wallowing and more listening to the international donors and others who have kept their distance from the negotiations.
These would-be supporters have indicated the basic conditions the talks should meet in order to assuage their very real concerns about impunity and the persistence of paramilitarism. If there is no movement to meet these conditions, the negotiatorsâ€™ â€œsolitudeâ€ will only get worse.