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Published On: Sat, May 31st, 2014

We’re voting for a president not for peace

pazcol

Let’s be more than single issue voters. Peace, yes – but what else?

In these elections we’re not really talking about peace, but instead the ‘destruction/demobilization’ of the guerilla groups.

This is a pretty limited view of what the word peace means, and while, yes it is a key consideration in these elections, we must not forget that peace has been the buzz word for every election for about the last 100 years.

Be that war between the Liberals and the Conservatives, the guerillas and the army or the peasants and the land-owners, war and civil conflict has been the status quo for generations of Colombians.

Even though the current peace talks may hold a higher promise of conflict resolution (by moving beyond a one-dimensional peace to a 6 point agenda) is it right that we are once again becoming single-issue voters?

Yes, I feel hopeful and yes, I want the peace process to continue; however this is the point in time in which we, the citizens, can get politicians to make promises. Promises on things they have more control over than peace making, and promises on issues which would show us that they understand what Colombians want and need.

We need something to hold our politicians accountable to. Let’s not let them get away with only promising one thing.

We’ve seen Gustavo Petro, Claudia Lopez, Antanas Mockus and others openly supporting Santos on the grounds that they fully support the peace talks. We have even seen Santos’ opponent, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga move to back the talks after having his arm twisted by the Conservatives’ Marta Lucia Ramirez.

However, are these defeated politicians doing us a favour by giving their public backing to the remaining candidates? By using their voice to promote the single issue of peace are they throwing out any other policies out of the window?

Even though the peace talks aim to tackle some of the original grievances of the guerilla groups such as land reform and inequality, we don’t know how the candidates stand on these issues – given all the negotiations have taken place behind closed doors.

Neither Santos nor Zuluaga has tackled land reform or drug-trafficking in their official government plans.

Indeed these manifestos are not talked about, not debated, not examined or scrutinised by the media.

Why are we getting letting them get away with this?

Peace is the big hope for every Colombian, and yes perhaps peace will enable economic growth and less inequality and stabilize rural society. But Colombia’s problems can’t be reduced to one issue.

As Colombians we know this, but we are not communicating this to the people who will be in charge of leading the change.

In fact we have been so blinded by this single issue that all else has been effectively ignored; irrelevant when it comes to voting.

We have two weeks to ensure Zuluaga and Santos talk about our problems, and what they will do for Colombia. We are voting for a president, not for peace.

Photo, BBC