Peace Is Possible, Ethical Behavior Is Possible

Assata Shakur, a U.S. political prisoner who was granted asylum in Cuba. Photo courtesy of
Assata Shakur, a U.S. political prisoner who was granted asylum in Cuba. Photo courtesy of

During more than 52 years, various right-wing governments of Colombia and revolutionary forces, including the FARC and the ELN, maintained a state of war. In 2012, formal negotiations for a peace treaty began, with the goal that the government of Colombia would cease to attack these rebels and that they would abandon armed struggle and take part in political processes.

To create the environment possible for this to occur, certain conditions were agreed upon, including agrarian reform; political participation; an end to paramilitary violence, narco trafficking and production; a truth and reparations commission; and security guarantees.

The negotiations took place in Havana, Cuba, over a series of years, and initially Cuba and Norway were the guarantor states, a formal agreement with contract stipulations, which Cuba upheld when talks with the ELN faction broke down in 2019, while a group of ELN negotiators remained in Cuba.

Then–Colombian President Ivan Duque demanded their return to Colombia despite the previous agreements. Cuba declined to violate the agreements.

Francia Márquez, vice president of Colombia. Photo courtesy of Minrex (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba)
Francia Márquez, vice president of Colombia. Photo courtesy of Minrex (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba)

In May 2022, Colombia elected its first progressive center-left government with the ticket of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez. Peace talks resumed, starting with a bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian government and the ELN. This is now thought to be an irreversible process, the first time such a point has been reached. The sixth cycle of talks in Havana extended the ceasefire.

The government, the ELN, the Catholic Church and the United Nations will lead the verification and monitoring mechanism of the ceasefire. The parties have agreed to dialogue first before responding belligerently to any breach of the ceasefire. Notably, women’s and LGBTQ+ organizations, as well as representatives of Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples, were included in the peace process. Victims rights and nonrecurrence were addressed.

In May 2025, an official state of peace will exist in Colombia. President Petro said, “I must express our appreciation to Cuba for their hospitality for peace, which they have offered not just at this time, but as they have accompanied us through a decades-long process to keep us from killing each other in Colombia. Today, other generations will surely have two words in their hearts, like a flag: hope and change.”

Venezuela will be the probable location for the seventh round of talks, and the guarantor states are Cuba and Norway, continuing in that role, with Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil joining.

U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism List

The government of the United States recently issued the annual review of its State Sponsors of Terrorism List. It notes that on Jan. 12, 2021, the Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. As evidence for that designation, two points were listed:

“Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders.” However, it was forced to acknowledge that “in November, pursuant to an order from Colombian President Petro, the Attorney General announced that arrest warrants would be suspended against 17 ELN commanders, including those whose extradition Colombia had previously requested.”

Clearly, that completely invalidates any notion of Cuba’s fidelity to the written terms of a guarantor state in the Colombia Peace Process as a reason for inclusion on this list. The government of the country involved has declared that no violation or “sponsorship of terrorism” has occurred. The State Department has only one other reason to cite:

“Cuba also continues to harbor several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges related to political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.” That’s not an excerpt; it’s the whole statement.

Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism is entirely and exclusively based on Cuba offering asylum to U.S. political prisoners of the COINTELPRO war on Black America.

It might be necessary to highlight the fact that there is a government that can act ethically rather than expediently or opportunistically. We are not accustomed to seeing that in the United States, so we tend to believe that it is impossible.

We see our government withdraw all financial support from the UNWRA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which feeds and shelters Palestinian refugees, on the basis of unsubstantiated Israeli claims that 12 employees out of many thousands might be “Hamas.”

We are not in a position to comprehend that the government of Cuba would not turn over negotiators protected by a diplomatic agreement to Colombia to gain advantages from the United States.

We find it hard to believe that Cuba will not sell Assata Shakur to the state of New Jersey for $2 million or to the United States for political advantage and relief from the State Sponsor of Terrorism List international financial restrictions that are crippling Cuba’s fine national health system.

Integrity in government is new to us, and startling, yet moving.


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