Just because the CNN article says that Colombia is a democracy, does not make it so. If you ask a citizen of Colombia if they live in a democracy, they will tell you no.
The US isn't really a democracy either. I've written posts about this before; You can go through my previous comments and look for the ones on democracy.
Colombia in particular is not a democracy. The way you get ahead in the Colombian government is to kill your opponents and get approval of the folk who might potentially like to kill you. Elections occur, but you get to vote for one of a handful of murderers; The good guys were already killed off- They didn't go for the consent of the powers that be.
Even in principle, the right to vote for a dictator for a few years is not a democracy. The right to vote in someone to power who does not connect with you is not a democracy. A democracy would never conduct a secret battle against Nicaragua. A democracy would never have gone crazy over Vietnam. I don't think an anti-communist hysteria could sweep the country, if we were a democracy. It's important that in a democracy, that you have a free flow of ideas, and a free press. We haven't had that, rather, we've had witch hunts. But I'm digressing into territory that I've already covered pretty well; We're trying to talk about Colombia.
I don't know if you know this; In Colombia, you can become an assasin overnight. Just answer the want ad in the paper, and you'll get the details. The paramilitaries are in league with the government, which is largely why they are allowed to operate, (that, and they are very strong in their own right, both militarily and economically- they are usually hired by rich landowners who depend on them; anarcho-capitalists eat your heart out) and when you read in the CNN article that 21 political candidates are killed in a year, and 100 candidates intimidated out of the running, I want you to keep in mind that this action is done not just by the guerrillas (which CNN would like you to notice), but that it is also largely done by the militaries. Though Human Rights Watch has documented hoards of cases of paramilitary and military (& thus government) cooperation, the CNN article fails to mention that; To do so would be to critisize our beloved Colombian democracy.
Hell, the guerilla (there are several, FARC and ELN are two of them) and the Colombian government cooperate very frequently. Also, the CNN article seemed to pose that the FARC are against voting systems for political office (excuse me if I have difficulty calling such a thing a democracy), which is absolutely not the case. Actually, a very common Colombian way of dealing with the guerrilla when they can't outgun them is to simply give in, and this generally means: "You put down your guns, and we'll recognize your political party", which is actually an incredible way of diffusing their violence, as well as assuring that they have no political success; You can just assasinate and intimidate after that. But my point is; It's very common that the demands of the guerrilla is simply recognition as a political party and the right to be part of the election process. I should also note that it's not uncommon for guerrilla to negotiate with the government on the basis of "you do XYZ, and we'll cast our votes for candidate ABC". Unfortunately, Amber's not awake right now, so I can't collect the details of this for you.
"Well, the US will just not support either side," because by withdrawing support of the Columbian, democratically elected government, you implicitly support FARC in their quest to overthrow the government."
I'm sorry, you're going to have to explain this to me a little bit better. How would we be implicitely supporting FARC? Also, why do you assume that the Colombian government is more legitimate than the FARC? I'm not saying it is, I'm not saying it isn't. I don't know. But from what I understand, neither really represents people, just one happens to be in power, and the other isn't.
I don't understand how you can't support Trade Unions directly; I'm not sure how helping them upends the current democratic society; You're going to have to explain this to me.
You're also going to have to back up your statement "We want the Colombian people to choose their government, not us." I think you've already indicated that we want the present regime to stay in power. If you truly wanted to somehow force democracy on the people in Colombia, you'd have to kill the leaders of the guerrilla, the leaders and members of the paramilitary, the leaders of the government military, the political leaders of the recognized government, the large land owners, and the various officials and beaurocrats of the recognized government. That is what you would have to do. If you believe in achieving democracy by death, that's what you would have to do. I am saying, that it is impossible to bring democracy to Colombia by just killing the right people. If you want to bring democracy by force (which I don't think I believe in), but not by murder, this is what you do: You fill it with troops. You guarantee the safety of every citizen. You demilitarize everyone. You make a forum in which everyone's voice will be heard and recognized. You come up with a system for democracy, beyond "who's going to be the dictator for the next four years", and one that assures malliability in the future, and that everyone will always be able to have their voice heard. And this is basically something that is impossible.
I know that we want to do good (referring to you and I). But I think that "establishing democracy in Colombia" is unreasonable.
There is something I have noticed about my arguments, and about my beliefs, and here it is for you: I have noticed that it is not possible to make people free. This is obviously something that is open for debate. I cannot give you a long list of reasons and explanations that are unquestionable. This is something that I have to rely on my intuition for, but this is something that I have noticed, in my life, on all scales, from small to big, and it is that you cannot impose freedom on someone. I admit, this is primarily a metaphysical thesis, but I believe it very strongly, and have seen very very little counterevidence. In fact, the evidence seems overwhelming that when we try to fix things, they generally get worse. This isn't to say that we can't or shouldn't do anything. There are things that we can do to help. When there are earnest pleas from large groups of people, I believe that we can help these people. (Unfortunately, our media distorts things, but, I am talking about "if there was no media distortion" right now) If someone asks you for a little bit of help on something, you can help them, and I think it will be good. But I think that we cannot impose freedom on people.
Ask Colombians if they want US military aid going to their government. From all I have heard from my girlfriend who left Colombia about 4-7 years ago, from my girlfriends sister who left Colombia about 3 months ago, and from e-mail friends in Colombia who are there right now (none are activists; Activism is a extremely deadly, and utterly non-rewarding job in Colombia- THAT is why there are guerrilla in Colombia- they have to be guerrilla in order to survive as activists), from what those people have told me, nobody wants the US government to be giving weapons to the Colombian government.
Here are some things that you can do to help make a democracy in the United States, if you are interested: You can start a Fair Newspaper. Start a distribution for your local community, maybe just your street, or go to your sub-city, or your whole city, or your state, that's something like Kuro5hin. People can email you or mail you or deliver to you some samples of writing, under a certain size, and then collect them, publish them, and distribute them in your neighborhood. This will bring voice to essentially voiceless people, promote community relations, and help foster a political awareness of your shared interests. Another thing is that you can create a local money supply. There are many books on how to do this, and transaction.net has a lot of information on it online. (Look up Ithaca HOURS.) This allows people to save discressionary income for more important things, but use the local "funny money" for things that your community can provide, such as services such as cleaning, gardening, and education. You can attend local community planning meetings, and be a part of that. These things are all things that you can do to bring about a more democratic society.
You may even be able to get your free community donuts, provided that your democratic community agrees that it is a good use of community funds. Maybe you could leverage a good deal with the local bakery or something. Take care, Lion
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