Why A Ceasefire Alone Will Not Bring Peace To Colombia

Despite FARC declaring a ceasefire, peace won't come to Colombia until warring parties in decades of civil war admit to all the people they've kidnapped, tortured and killed.

FARC soldiers in Colombia
FARC soldiers in Colombia


BOGOTA — There can be no peace without the truth. In Colombia, this means the various armed players recognizing and apologizing for the acts of barbarism they have committed in the civil conflict that has stained our country since the 1960s.

It is significant that the guerrillas of FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — have recently apologized for killing 79 people in Bojayá in 2002. Yet one cannot begin to digest their pretentious cynicism, general reluctance to recognize other macabre incidents or practiced tendency to "spin" words to give their acts an ideological allure.

It is not just the FARC of course. The armed parties in Colombia have devoted themselves to constructing whole discourses to legitimize atrocities or pretend they did not even happen. The paramilitaries for example got into the habit of presenting themselves as self-defense formations devoted exclusively to fighting the FARC. As if massacres and mass kidnappings were just collateral damage in their war, and drug-dealing, something they "barely" did on the side.

Their lies were revealed some time ago. The reluctance of former paramilitary authorities to tell the truth has led some to be excluded from the provisions of the Justice and Peace law, while others have faced tough questioning over their "selective amnesia." They have become used to telling the truth when it suits them. Take the former gang chief Ramón Isaza, who only very recently admitted his responsibility for a massacre committed in 1989 in the northern district of Simacota.

The truth can't hide

The Colombian state, sadly, has not done much better. The Inter American Court of Human Rights had to explicitly accuse the state before it admitted that troops and police used excessive force during the 1985 assault to free hostages in the Palace of Justice in Bogota, which had been overtaken by leftist guerrillas.

Footage of the 1985 Palace of Justice siege — Source: Mario expand=1] Andrei Pantoja Maguiña

The court's ruling was a warning that the truth will come out one day, and belligerent sides must remember this. Colombia's judiciary has borne this in mind, when decisively excluding from Justice and Peace provisions those disarmed paramilitaries who have not been honest about their activities.

In fact in a recent ruling, the State Council, an arbitrating body, condemned the state over the 1996 killing of leftist Patriotic Union leader Josué Giraldo Cardona, because, it found, the paramilitaries who killed him had been able to count on the "help of members of the Army Seventh Brigade who were permanently following Patriotic Union party members." It ordered the defense ministry and national police to take reparative measures.

That is precisely the message for us: The truth had better come quickly, without cynicism, and without again making victims of those who have suffered in this conflict. Starting to weave the truthful story of what has been happening in Colombia would be the next great step necessary toward a lasting peace.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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