Colombia`s elections, what to look out for


Colombians go to the polls on Sunday to elect the most important congress in a generation.

What should you look out for, and what will happen?

First, some stats.

33 million Colombians are eligible to vote, 17 million women and just under 16 million men. There are 97,000 tables and 11,000 polling booths. Half a million Colombians living abroad will vote across 63 countries.

Over 2,400 candidates are fighting three elections, the senate, the house of representatives and the Andean Parliament.

In addition, Colombia`s Green Alliance has an open primary to choose its presidential candidate.

Now, here are my 10 predictions:

1. A new party, ex-president Alvaro Uribe’s Centro Democratico could win the highest number of senate seats. They have over 20% of the vote, with only the Liberal Party close. Expect the CD to win up to 25 seats.

2. Corruption will reach historic levels. Top Green Alliance hopeful Antonio Navarro says vote buying is “ferocious”, while reports claim candidates are pumping up to 5 billion pesos into their campaigns. Votes are changing hands for as little as $24 USD in some areas but rise to $150 USD in others. These will be the most expensive elections on record.

3. Left-winger Jorge Enrique Robledo could emerge as the senator with the highest number of votes. Robledo has been the most visible opposition parliamentarian of the last four years and is charismatic, forensic and indefatigable. A politician of some real conviction. You may not agree with his politics but it’s hard not to admire the man.

4. Apathy and protest will rule. The voto en blanco – literally blank vote – could emerge with the highest share of the vote. Polls suggests that north of 20% of Colombians will register their antipathy towards to the political class by refusing to vote for any of the candidates available. Sadly, abstention will also be high; over 50%.

5. The Conservatives and the U Party will see their vote collapse. The U won 28 senate seats in 2010 as the party of Alvaro Uribe, but Uribe has ditched them. The U are currently the largest party in the senate, but will lose around 50% of their seats tomorrow. The Conservatives have been particularly hit by corruption charges and are divided between those who support Santos and those who side with Uribe. Once the largest political force in the land, the blues will be reduced to fewer than 15 senators.

6. Left Wing Polo Democrats will continue to struggle to make an electoral impact, perhaps falling behind the newly formed left grouping, the Green Alliance. Robledo will of course be there, but he will be joined by fewer than a handful of senators.

7. Over 100 candidates are alleged to have links with paramilitaries. In some cases politicians already convicted of working or being financed by these brutal far right militias have simply passed their candidacy and their “votes” to family members. Verdad Abierta have also revealed that 35 candidates are themselves under investigation for parapolitics. The parapolitics scandal will come back into focus as later this year hundreds of demobilized paramilitaries will be released from jail.

8. Enrique Peñalosa by a mile will win the Green Alliance presidential primary. Over night Peñalosa will be transformed into the main challenger to President Santos in the May presidential elections.

9. 20% of those elected will be entering congress for the first time. Hardly the “renovation” politicians have been calling for, but a start. About the same percentage of winners will be women.

10. Although FARC guerrillas have threatened to terrorize the vote across 181 municipal areas, they will be largely thwarted by Defence Minister Pinzon’s action to put 266,000 members of the armed forces on the streets to monitor 99.9% of the voting booths. Pinzon claims these elections will be the safest in recent history. They must be.

These elections will change the way politics is conducted over the next four years. President Santos has enjoyed a coalition of over 90% of congress, meaning the legislature has been, well, a bit of a patsy in recent years.

If Santos is re-elected he will face major opposition from within the new parliament. He may even struggle to establish a majority. It will depend on how many seats Uribe`s CD wins and how many of the Conservatives will sit and vote with Uribe`s group.

With the return to the arena of Colombia`s political big beasts like Antonio Navarro (Green), Horacio Serpa (Liberal), and Alvaro Uribe (Centro Democratico), the next parliament is set to be a lively place. On paper this should be good for democracy. Whether the polarized nature of debate will help the governing of country is quite another thing, however.

This is the congress that will implement the peace accords with the FARC and prepare Colombia for post-conflict; it is the most important in a generation.

What should – but probably won`t – worry politicians is the level of distrust and contempt the electorate have for their elected representatives.

As abstention and protest votes emerge as the real winners on Sunday, the mandates of those elected to the 2014-18 parliament will be weaker than ever.

Politicians’ failure to represent the will of the people will undermine their ability to deliver the urgent reforms the nation needs. Or perhaps someone will get the message and change the way politics are done in Colombia. Perhaps…

Photo, Vanguardia

Colombia`s media are wrong; election is up for grabs


Don`t believe the hype or the Santos friendly media; 2014 is an election where anything could happen.

Polls show just 25% of the nation wants Santos to be re-elected. And 50% – yes 50%! – of Colombians can`t decide who to vote for or will spoil their ballot in protest at the poverty of choice.

Odd then that the media go with “Santos; the candidate with the best image” and “Santos; ahead by miles”.

An independent journalist might suggest Santos is as popular as Lady Thatcher in an English mining town. To propose he is already on course to win by a landslide is, well, tosh isn`t it.

I know I bang on about how the media is conveniently cosy with the government (not just this one, but who ever the government of the time is). But for me the media should always be the fourth branch of power, a force holding politicians to account not brown nosing.

You think I`m exaggerating about the relationship between the media and Santos? Tune your dial to Hora 20 on Caracol Radio, or BluRadio`s morning programme and you`ll hear that even journos themselves accept the argument.

So, let`s ignore those who say it`s all a foregone conclusion.

Let`s look at the reality.

Santos is ahead of his rivals? Yes. In fact, add the percentage points of the other candidates together and Santos is still above them.

Santos has the support of the parliament? Yes. He has built a coalition of over 90% of congress and now has the U Party, the Liberals and Cambio Radical officially supporting his candidature. Even some Conservatives will unofficially support him despite having their own candidate. Weird? You bet.

Santos has the media on side? Ave María, of course.

So, yes he`s on course to win. There is no one at the moment that looks ready to take him on. On the right, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, former president Alvaro Uribe`s choice, has sunk without trace, now on 8%, while the affable Clara Lopez on the left struggles to get above 5%.

Conservatives`Marta Lucia Ramirez has only just got going – she has been a candidate for less than a fortnight, and Enrique Peñalosa, a possible for the Greens, won`t formalize his candidature until March.

Santos is the clear favourite? Absolutely.

But…if 50% of the electorate is up for grabs and two thirds are against the president`s re-election, well it`s not as clear cut as the experts would like us to believe.

Think back to the “Green Wave” of Antanas Mockus in 2010. Mockus almost over night surged into what looked like an unassailable lead in the polls. His message of education reform and a crack-down on corruption had Santos pegged back, languishing even.

Mockus bottled it though in a series of painful interviews and debates and Santos – with the help of Uribe and campaign strategist JJ Rendon – went on to win with a record number of votes.

Remember too that in 2002 Alvaro Uribe burst onto the scene, coming from a very lowly position in the polls to win in the first round (which meant he won over 50% of the vote).

To my mind it doesn`t take that much imagination to see something similar this time round. Dissatisfaction with the old style of politics is at record levels, Santos is desperately unpopular in parts of the country, and let`s face it, he`s not the best communicator or campaigner.

A candidate with a clear message representing something slighty different could wipe the floor with him.

I`ve lamented before that there is no such candidate. Well, how about Enrique Peñalosa? He`s not even a candidate yet but registers 10% in some polls. He is well known, has a proven track record of good governance when mayor of Bogota. Ok, so he`s from the capital and is rich, but he`s a little outside of, a little different to the political class so loathed by Colombians.

Peñalosa`s advantage is that he is neither a loony lefty nor a reactionary right-winger. His is an ability to shift between the left and the right depending on the issue. As a consequence he attracts support from across the spectrum – just the sort of thing that becomes incredibly useful in the second round run off.

So if Santos fails to win 50% of the vote and he has to go to a run off with the second placed candidate, say Peñalosa the final result is anyone`s guess.

Santos would have his 25% guaranteed, but Peñalosa might just attract more of the 50% of the electorate up for grabs.

The ABS candidate, “Anyone but Santos” is a powerful ticket.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Of course. And does it have to be Peñalosa? No.

The point is that despite what the editors of some national papers seem to want us to believe. With 50% of the electorate in play, the game is very much afoot.

Picture, Mockus` 2010 “Green Wave”.

Cash for votes


The accusation is stark. 1.5 billion dollars were spent by the Santos administration on paying off parliamentarians for their support and votes.

Computer files said to have been leaked from the Presidential Palace supposedly reveal wide-scale clientelism at the heart of Colombia`s political class.

Caracol Radio has released what it says is evidence that congressmen and senators have in some cases been handed hundreds of thousands of dollars to “spend on local projects”.

Commentators on Caracol`s leading Hora 20 programme last night alleged that many of these projects had not been delivered, inviting listeners to draw their own conclusion as to where the money had ended up.

In Colombia, this largesse is known as  “mermelada” (jam) and the Santos government is seen by many observers as particularly generous in the size of the portions it dollops out.

The president himself has dismissed Caracol`s report as “un cuento”, a made-up story. It could well be. Perhaps the evidence isn`t credible.

However, just listen to the radio or read the columnists and you`ll see that few in Colombia`s political world deny the existence of clientelism (in general if not necessarily in this particular case).

Worryingly, the scale of the practice could be much worse than so far revealed. The files obtained by Caracol do not take into account the most recent months when, as the rumours go, the mouths to feed have grown in number, and the bellies fatter.

Those with longer memories will recall that ex-president Alvaro Uribe`s administration too fell foul of a similar accusation.

In 2008, Yidis Medina was convicted of bribery, and was said to have offered lucrative rewards to those who voted in favour of allowing a constitutional change to permit Uribe`s re-election.

Where ever you are, politics always involves a level of rose-garden-jobs-for-the-boys-kick-back culture.

The question is whether in Colombia it is any worse than elsewhere.

If you listen to commentators and even speak to the politicians themselves, they admit that in Colombia the clientelism is seriously damaging the country`s democracy.

Congresswomen Angela Robledo today wrote in La Silla Vacia that “clientelism has steadily eroded ideology”.

Politicians vote not with their heart or mind, but instead with their pocket, she suggests. Politics loses out to interests, perhaps.

The full break down of the parliamentarians and their alleged regalitos can be found here: http://www.caracol.com.co/noticias/actualidad/mermelada-reeleccionista-por-partido-region-monto-cargos-y-comisiones/20140124/nota/2061848.aspx

42% earn less than minimum wage

informal worker

Nearly half of Colombia`s work force earn less than the minimum wage, according to figures released by the Labour Ministry last December.

8.8 million Colombians, many of whom work informally or in “rebusque”, live on salaries below 300 US dollars a month. Surprisingly, as little as 6 per cent of the work force is paid the legal low.

Meanwhile, pension firms have revealed the “vast majority of Colombians” (according to Semana magazine) earn just 1-2 times the minimum; or between 300 and 600 dollars a month.

Every new year, the government enters into negotiations with leading businessmen and unions to fix the rate at which the minimum wage will increase.

President Santos this week heralded an “historic” 4.5% rise for 2014.

Those on the left and the right criticised the announcement, however. Former President, Alvaro Uribe – on the right – argued for 6% while Clara Lopez – on the left – said the increase amounted to less than 50 cents or 1,000 pesos a day, “not enough to buy a bag of milk”.

Of course some argue the minimum wage as an idea is counter-productive, while others would like to see a truly historic rise or a “living wage” as has been proposed in other nations.

But the question we have is that if just 6 per cent earn the minimum wage, isn`t focusing debate on a rise here a distraction?

Shouldn`t the government be directing efforts and policies on making it attractive for workers to leave “informality”?

Shouldn`t the government be looking to resolve the structural imbalances in the economy?

Perhaps it`s unfair to say they aren`t.

Santos’ administration has certainly reformed the tax codes and looked – or at least has said has looked – to diversify the nation`s output.

The problem is, as with much of the work of the current government, the rhetoric appears to outpace the reality.  GDP growth is still healthy – pretty good, actually – and foreign investment continues year on year to break records.

Good news!

But this macro-level activity tells just one side of the story. Long term, the government must focus on how it can make Colombians wealthier, to earn more and ultimately spend more.

When I had lunch with left-wing firebrand Jorge Robledo last year he told me that Colombia was a “pre-capitalist” country. His argument was that industry and business doesn`t function because corruption and “la rosca” (nepotism) distorts an immature, “pre-modern” market, as he called it.

Now I think Robledo exagerates, of course. But almost any economist will tell you that for a nation to develop it needs to build a strong middle class with real purchasing power.  Colombia has a middle class, and she is progressing better than many of her regional neighbours.

However, she clearly has a long way to go if nearly half the work force earns less than 600,000 pesos.

Colombia Politics awards 2013

2013 has been unpredictable. Rural rebellion, polemic peace talks, anti-democratic “coups”, and re-election rumours abounded.

To close this year of locura in our querida Colombia we bring you the best, the worst and the most ridiculous politicians of the past 12 months.

These are the Colombia Politics awards. Happy New Year.

Hero of the year –  Nairo Quintana


Nairo is no politician, but his was a gritty and unassuming leadership all the nation admired this year.

While rural Colombia revolted, a bicycling sensation was born as Señor Quintana, claimed second place in his first ever Tour de France, this year.

The humble 23 year old, born to campesinos from Boyaca, stole Colombian hearts as he was first crowned the Tour`s King of the Mountain and then later stepped up to the Parisian podium in July.

Quintana`s story is a folklorically different to the pampered, and elite-trained athletes of Europe and North America.

There were no nutritionists to help Nairo in his teenage years, the diminutive youngster instead relying on Colombia`s carb-heavy culinary staples, sancocho and ajiaco.

Nairo cycled miles to school – as money often didn`t run to the bus fare – on a rickety old bike he father said was useless. Today, he is a gentleman; a smiling unassuming sporting hero.

Nairo, we salute you.

Politician of the year  – Humberto de la Calle

DelacalleDulcet-toned de la Calle is the Santos Government`s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the FARC in Havana.

An eternal statesman, de la Calle has held cabinet positions over much of the last 20 years and has with huge aplomb steered the polemic and public-opinion-dividing talks with the guerrillas towards to a hopefully succesful conclusion.

Despite constant sniping from the sidelines and despite negotiating with the wily guerrillas who have devoted the last 50 years to a war against the Colombian state, de la Calle has managed to maintain the appearance of order and control.

Leadership is a rare quality and de la Calle`s erudite and calming influence has been its best example in 2013.

Wind bag of the year – Gustavo Petro 


Love him or loathe him, Petro`s rhetoric has been unrivalled (in its verbosity) this year.

The newly sacked Mayor of Bogota is reminiscent of a 1980s University Student Union “trot” determined to divide the world into the bourgeois (evil) and the proletarian masses (virtuous yet down-trodden).

Commentators have perhaps a little unfairly said Petro has a “speech for everything and a solution for nothing”, but the mayor`s time in office has certainly been characterized by hyperbole and very little rolling up of sleeves and getting on with the job.

When the right-wing Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez (hate figure for those on the left) decided earlier this month to depose Petro for his mishandling of the nationalization of Bogota`s rubbish collection (yes, really), Petro was handed the opportunity of a lifetime to transform himself from terrible administrator to the “people`s matyr”.

Expect 2014 to be another year of plaintive pomposity from Petro as he fights Ordoñez’s decision and tries to build a coalition of “indignados” ahead of congressional and presidential elections.

Foot in mouth moment of the year – President Santos


“El tal paro no existe”

Whoops, Mr President.

President Santos might be a nice patrician sort of chap but he is not the most charismatic of politicians. When forced to ad-lib,  Juan Manuel often trips over himself with a sort of self-consciousness not usually associated with those who have risen to the top.

As nation-wide protests at the economic ruin of rural Colombia began to take hold in August, Santos appeared on television to utter the infamous line, “this national strike doesn`t exist”.

Lampooned and harrangued in equal measure, Santos appeared out of touch, insensitive, and worse still, unable to manage a crisis. The country told him in no uncertain terms that “yes, there jolly well was a strike, and what`s more we`re going to stick it out until you get on and do something about it”; roads were blocks, pots and pans were bashed in protest against the president, and Bogota rioted. Santos was forced to “militarize” (in his words) the capital to stop the rot.

The president saw his popularity levels fall below 20% and hasn`t since recovered.

Opposition politician of the year – a tie!  

robledouribePresident Santos controls over 90% of congress and has most of the national media eating out of the palm of his hand (or his pocket, if Uribe`s allegations are to be believed).

Opposition in Colombia`s highly presidentialized system has often been a lonely pursuit.

So particular mention is merited for those who have stuck at it and tried to hold the president to account this year.

Colombia Politics could not decide on a winner between Jorge Enrique Robledo on the left and Alvaro Uribe on the right and so we decided to split the gong in two.

Former President Alvaro Uribe has been a constant thorn in the side of his successor, attacking Santos for being all talk and no delivery, for duplicitousness and betrayal in entering into talks with the FARC, and for weakness in his dealings with firebrand neighbours in Caracas and Managua.

Robledo too has been an almost lone voice in congress opposing government policy. Robledo`s engaging and forensic style has been put to effect with devastating effect, hastening the fall of ministers and ambassadors.

His dearest wish would be to put an end the Santos regime. This may be a step too far, but in 2014 he heads the senate list for the left wingers, Polo Democrats and could well be elected with the highest number of votes.    

There are many other figures we would like to raise a toast to here, like the offensive Senator Gerlein who called homosexual sex “excremental”, and the corrupt former Bogota Mayor, Samuel Moreno who is alleged to have stolen over 15 million dollars of public money in the just three years he was in power.

What does 2014 hold? We hope for new leadership, some new faces and for Colombians to continue their “civic rebellion”, demanding more of their political class.

Here`s to a 2014 in which Colombia votes for peace and hopefully a little bit of a change too.

Colombia needs an alternative


Colombia`s presidential election has an air of inevitability about it. Ok, so 66% of Colombians don`t want to re-elect President Santos. But they don`t much fancy the list of other options, either.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga ex-president Alvaro Uribe`s man, struggles for votes above 15%, while Clara Lopez and other leftie candidates are within the margin of error.

The candidate with the best change of beating Santos is the “voto en blanco”, or the spoilt ballot. He/she currently sits just three points behind the president.

Abstention too has a chance of winning; nearly half of Colombians remain unsure who is the lesser of evils.

We`re six months away from the first round vote in the presidential election (if no candidate wins an absolute majority he or she must face a run off with the second placed runner up) and there is plenty of time for the nation to decide which way to jump.

However, there is a strange sense that it is not that Colombians are undecided, but antipathetic. Abstention might not reflect laziness but a nationwide collective turning up of the nose.

Anecdotally I have found not a soul who wants to see Santos in power come August (when the new president is sworn in). But equally, most struggle to identify an alternative, and confess they may end up voting for him to keep out a worse option (a leftie or a rightie depending on their politics).

Colombia`s democracy is a curious beast, and it would be foolish to pretend that corruption and outright vote buying will not play a significant role in the outcome of the elections. Nevertheless, it IS important what the electorate think and want – despite the best efforts of many to avoid this reality – and a move in voter sentiment if it is particularly strong could bring about real change.

So, while I still believe that Santos should just about scrape home to victory, there are two alternative scenarios:

1. The voto en blanco campaign captures the public mood, and Colombians decide to send a message to their overly oligarchical political class. In the event that the “white wave”, as it is now being called, tops the poll, elections will have to be recalled, with none of the previous candidates allowed to stand again. What fun that would be!

2. A surprise figure, a new, inspiring and intelligent figure emerges to offer change hope and a path to the sunlit uplands…well, we can hope, can´t we? Perhaps the white knight won`t arrive, but a reasonable, palatable politician must be out there somewhere.

In 2002 Alvaro Uribe appeared almost from nowhere. With just months to go he was hopelessly behind, registering very low in the polls, but his populist message of enough is enough led him to take the elections in the first round.

Equally, the Green candidate and former Bogota Mayor, Antanas Mockus in 2010 managed to bring about Colombia`s first social media revolution, building what looked like an unstoppibly popular movement. But Mockus faded just as quickly as he had surged and Santos won comfortably.

So, Colombia is desperately seeking a Mockus; but this time a Mockus with staying power. Education, health, justice – the platforms on which this candidate could run are as endless as the reforms to the system are urgent.

Arise…¡Dios me oiga!

Picture, Global Post

President Santos: `re-elect me for peace`


Colombia`s President Juan Manuel Santos, tonight launched an audacious re-election bid, claiming peace is possible only with him in charge.

Santos will ask Colombians next May to vote for four more years to implement peace accords he hopes the in coming months to have signed with FARC guerrillas.

If the president has his way, ending Colombia`s 50 year conflict will be the central issue as the campaign officially begins on Monday. Santos`strategy is to offer the electorate a choice of the “friends of peace” and the enemies of the FARC talks underway in Havana. The commander-in-chief hopes that, however sceptical the public may be, it will ultimately not vote against a farewell to arms.

Santos is building a coalition of Liberal, Conservative, Cambio Radical, and other, parties in support of his re-election.

Yesterday, the President sat late into the night securing the support of potential rival, German Vargas Lleras, and also tied up backing from left-wing Bogota Mayor, Gustavo Petro and right-wing Conservatives.

With support from the major political powerhouses already secured, Santos is trying to stitch up the election before the campaign has begun. Currently there is no candidate that has a chance of beating him.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is his closest rival but, despite having the support of hardline former president, Alvaro Uribe, Zuluaga has failed to capture the attention of the public.

Polls show that less than a third of Colombians want Santos back in the presidential palace come next August (when the possession takes place). However, with the state`s largesse at his disposal, the coalition votes in the bag, and the majority of the national media “on message”, public opinion will struggle to be heard. Santos` re-election has an air of inevitability.

Within minutes of Santos` address, supporters were dispatched to the TV and radio studios to herald the achievements of the administration. Those that just days ago were wondering whether to ditch a president ailing in the polls are today firmly tied to the re-election ship.

If these supporters are to be believed the votes have already been counted. Will Colombians fall in line and obey the wishes of the political class?

Picture, El Tiempo.

No pause in FARC peace talks for elections


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday dismissed opposition calls to pause peace talks with FARC guerrillas promising to “press down the accelerator” to build on the “real progress” to end the nation`s 50 year conflict.

Former President Alvaro Uribe demands an end to discussions he sees as a farce, while others have argued for a pause during the election campaign that begins later this month.

But Santos is now increasingly confidence of a successful outcome to the negotiations he began last October.

Following yesterday`s agreement on a framework for the guerrilla group`s incorporation into the democratic system, Santos has gone on the offensive:

“There has been talk of breaking or pausing the talks, we are not going to do this…As we move forward and you see results, it is not time to stop, but just the opposite; to accelerate and continue with more courage and more excitement to end this conflict indefinitely.”

Santos will hope further agreements propel his re-election campaign.

Although the full details of yesterday`s agreement are unlikely to be made public until all points in the general accord for the termination of the armed conflict are agreed upon, Colombia Politics can confirm they include rights and guarantees for the exercise of the political opposition, democratic mechanisms of citizen participation, and effective measures to promote greater participation in national, regional and local policy.

Humberto De La Calle, the government’s chief negotiator, hailed the agreement a “new opening for democracy”.

“The agreement today represents a new opening for democracy, an open road for peace to take root after the end of the conflict, to free our government from violence and intimidation.”

“The agreement will create an important mechanism for turning armed groups into political parties and movements.”

FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez, labelled the agreement “perhaps one of the most important achievements so far [in the peace talks].”

As expected, Alvaro Uribe, slammed the announcement, tweeting “Colombia is the only democracy that accepts negotiating its democracy with terrorism.”

While most commentators have welcomed the agreement, concern has been expressed about the lack of clarity on what has been agreed upon. According to this publication`s editor, the fundamental issues such as whether Timochenko and co will seek election, and or directly given seats in congress have been parked.

For Ginny Bouvier, Senior Program officer for Latin America at the United States Institute of Peace, any accord on political participation should look to provide more access to politics for marginalised sectors of society.

“Given that political, economic and social exclusion form parts of the root of the conflict, it will be important to undertake political reforms that allow the expression of these as well as other dissident voices.”

Bouvier also spoke of the challenge of integrating the rebels into political life:

“The stigmatisation of the guerrillas and the highly polarised electoral environment in Colombia add to the challenge of integrating FARC rebels into the political arena.”

Without details of the agreement it is impossible to know how these issues have been tackled.

The next item to be discussed at the peace table is the illicit drug trade; problematic in its own right.

According to organised crime website Insight Crime, the FARC control approximately 70% of the country’s coca crops, while many FARC fronts “earn millions of dollars from the drug trade”.

We have argued before that it is unclear whether Ivan Marquez and co represent the guerrillas` rank and file members. If not, it is highly likely FARC splinter groups will emerge to continue this lucrative business.

“It is perhaps inevitable that a new generation of criminal groups, the FARCRIM, may be born should a peace deal be signed,” argue Insight Crime.

Only time will tell how the delegations tackle this issue.

Photo, Fernando Vergara / AP