Colombia: Constituent Assembly

Alberto Pinzón Sánchez

The geopolitics and necessity of a constituent process in Colombia.

The “Mesa Internacionalista de Alternatiba” has encouraged me, as part of its process of reflection and exchange of concrete experiences on constituent processes in Abya Yala, to send them a text to address this need in Colombia. A need that is shared with a good part of the continent, in terms of grassroots, plurinational, popular and anti-colonial constituent processes that put an end to the current institutional status quo.

The celebration of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Havana Agreement, which brought to Bogota, as a central figure of support, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (24.11. 2021), has brought to light the central contradiction between words and deeds that characterizes the oligarchic demagogy of the Colombian ruling class and its international supporters to convince their own and foreigners of the goodness of such Agreement initially signed in Havana 5 years ago, which according to the managerial evaluation of the US Ambassador in Colombia Mr. Philip Goldberg, “only 30% of the 578 commitments signed have been fulfilled”.[1] The following is a summary of the results of this celebration.

Given the small space for this type of articles, I will limit myself to briefly point out some aspects of such contradiction.

The spectacle: Not all the ostentatious and good-natured media spectacle had the unison applause of the obvious beneficiaries of the Agreement. There were also rejections to the presentation of the UN Secretary Guterres and there were from two contradictory positions: One, the one expressed or promoted by the former president Uribe Vélez, spokesman of the dominant oligarchic class fraction, opposed by principle to cede even an inch of its immense agro-industrial estates, or of its privileges and privileges of impunity; which was widely publicized by the yellow press of its partners [2].

Another, the opposite, the one expressed from the point of view of the subaltern classes (workers, peasants, indigenous people, middle classes, intellectuals, etc., who were intended to benefit from the agreed text). Even criticisms made by signatories who were totally disillusioned with the Agreement they signed [3].

Geopolitics: In Colombia, as a result of a pact made in the Spanish State in Sitges, in 1957, between the head of the conservative Falangist party and the liberal Pan-Americanist party, it was practically agreed to build a counterinsurgent State, which began its development during the first government of the National Front based on the secret recommendations left to President Lleras Camargo by the US Army General William P. Yarborough, in 1960, to build a counterinsurgent State, which began its development during the first government of the National Front. Yarborough, in 1960, to adopt counterinsurgency as State Ideology and form the first auxiliary paramilitary corps of the Colombian Army that began its reorganization counting on the Colombian officers called “Koreans” who came from fighting communism in the Korean War. Counterinsurgency which, in essence, more than a doctrine is a rather broad and fluid ideology. But fundamentally it is a geostrategic vision that has its roots in the Nazi vision that the class struggle is always an internal war (not a civilized struggle of ideas) and for this purpose it organizes the “Frei Korps”, death squads, or Nazi brown shirts. But, above all, it is based on that well-known and dreadful phrase of Hitler that “in our war there is no civilian population”.

With this, the future of the Colombian conflict was organized. A very important role was given to the Army, which was separated from the bipartisan political aspect that had prevailed since the anticolonial war against Spain, giving priority to the creation of the main counterinsurgent force of the paramilitaries as its allies, and, a “something” was constituted that later came to be described and sustained by the sociologist Vilma Liliana Franco in her book “Counterinsurgent Order and Domination” 2009, as a Dominant Power Bloc. A historically violent oligarchic power bloc (9 bipartisan civil wars in the 19th century and two civil wars in the 20th century), and which, in the heat of the global cold war, from 1960 until today, through 11 successive governments and with the help of the “Catholic Bishopric”, developed and implanted deeply within society, the ideology, the dominant counterinsurgent worldview of the internal communist enemy.

The Conflict: In Colombia, as is well known, the armed conflict is a historical conflict, a social conflict and, more recently, it has become a geostrategic conflict as it spills over to neighboring borders, and even beyond, to other Latin American and Caribbean countries such as Nicaragua and Haiti. But especially acute in the Colombian-Venezuelan border, where the Colombian State and its Apparatus of Coercion has become a spearhead of the geostrategic interests of the neoliberal imperialist Hegemon, since 2015, when President Obama declared the Venezuelan State as a “threat to the national security of the USA”; counting on the Colombian Army that is a global partner of NATO since 2018, when President JM Santos made official such strategic linkage to serve the interests of this global military alliance.

History: Historically in Colombia, the dominant oligarchic power bloc has resolved each and every bipartisan civil war through political pacts that led to Constitutions or substantial modifications to the constitutional charter (8 constitutions in the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth century two substantial constitutional modifications in 1936 and 1957, and the neoliberal constitution of 1991. Modifications that generated a rearrangement in the correlation of political forces that represented social classes and concrete economic interests of the here and now, and introduced in the daily political practice the “pactista” conception of the political exercise, of which the revolutionary Insurgency has not been alien to, claiming itself as an alternative of Power and representing the variegated group of the subordinated classes. The concept already fully rooted within Colombians of the need for a Political Solution to the chronic Colombian conflict, leading to a Broad and Democratic National Constituent Assembly, etc., was raised since 1964 by the guerrilla leaders when the current counterinsurgent military confrontation began and has its foundation in this pacitist conception of seeking a rearrangement in the correlation of political forces and social classes; a reorganization of the State in its two components, Social Consensus and Coercion, as well as to provide a deep (structural) solution to the historical problems that have given rise to the conflict and continue to sustain and feed it, and to the monumental General Crisis of Colombian society linked to or forming an inseparable part of the Civilizational Crisis, Ecological, Economic and Global Health Crisis that the world economy of the current neoliberal Imperialism is going through, so that everything is embodied in a modern and adequate Constitution for the current era of transition from Unilateralism to Multilateralism.Contrasts of the Colombian society

Criticism: Precisely, the most important criticisms that have been made to the Santos-Timochenko /2016 pact signed in Havana to end the counterinsurgent confrontation of the State (as a Whole) with the adverse insurgency, are based on this argumentation that we bring:

First, that the old popular aspiration that said confrontation would lead to a Constituent Process that would be legalized and legitimized in a Magna Carta for Colombians through a Constituent Assembly was mocked or skimped or “conejejeó”.

Second, that said pact was reduced to a pact between the leaderships: the Farc secretariat commanded by Timochenko, and the representatives of the Santos Government who signed the document, but as demonstrated in the referendum plebiscite of October 2, 2016, it did not commit the Colombian State as a whole. Neither at the level of Coercion, nor at the level of Consensus; much less in the Institutions, or in the political Regime. Division within the class that runs the Colombian State that is still palpable today, when former President Uribe Vélez writes a document in response to the speech of Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General given in Bogota on November 24, 2021, published in the above-mentioned magazine Semana; and which was quickly described as “delirium” by his class rival, former President J.M. Santos [4].

Third, that as demonstrated by the powerful Social Mobilization that three years after the signing of said pact became a true Social Outburst, which brought to the surface before society, new popular and collective vanguards with their respective popular class, gender, ethnic, peasant and civic demands, which were not taken into account in the “negotiation” of Havana 5 years ago, thus proposing a new and more inclusive social negotiation.

Fourth, given the dreadful systematic and daily official genocide of former FARC combatants in reinsertion, of civic leaders and human rights defenders, of paramilitary massacres of the civilian population, and, above all, of the reactivation of the armed conflict in various regions of the country, it is urgent to find a political solution with the armed groups in the country, It is urgent to find a Political Solution with the insurgent groups that claim a political action in order to reach a complete peace, which will only be achieved with a constituent process that is legalized and legitimized through a Constituent Assembly.

Then it can be concluded that:

 The political vacuum of a Constituent Assembly that adapts the current correlation of classes in Colombia continues to be an essential necessity for the Political Solution of the incarnated and recycled Colombian conflict.

That as long as the Colombian State (as a whole) does not have a Consensus, that is to say, is united and in unity (two different but complementary terms), the Colombian conflict will continue to be recycled within the deep and serious civilizational Crisis that Humanity is currently going through.

That a scenario of broad and complex social mobilization is open as a collective vanguard with new social demands, one of which is the call for a broad, democratic and participatory Constituent Assembly, etc., which has been skirted by the two negotiating leaders of the Havana Agreement.

That a broad and democratic Constituent Assembly as described here is the definitive political solution to the Colombian internal conflict and the legal and legitimate guarantee of a total and complete peace.

Colombian physician, anthropologist and essayist, political exile and contributor to PIA Global.


Reference: [1] [2] [3] [4]