When Colombia struck a peace deal two years ago, the formula to end the western hemisphere’s longest civil conflict seemed simple: in return for handing in their weapons, leaders of the Marxist Farc guerrilla group would be able to run for office in elections this year. But nothing has proved simple when it comes to resolving a conflict that has claimed 200,000 lives, displaced millions and still inflames raw emotions. Although the fighting has not re-started, both the peace formula and Colombia’s democratic credentials are being severely tested ahead of presidential elections in May, thanks to a particularly poisonous campaign.
Last week, Farc suspended campaigning after Rodrigo Londoño, a top commander running for president, and his colleagues were pelted with rocks. In a statement, Farc said it would stop campaigning because of such attacks, some violent and some virtual, such as social media threats and circulated photographs of the homes of Farc activists.
“There’s a feeling of panic, of imminent conflagration,” says Jorge Restrepo, director of Cerac, a Bogotá think-tank. “The left is hitting out at the right, the right is hitting out at the left . . . Many candidates are still framing the election in terms of fighting, of war versus peace.”
Full Article: Colombia’s election tests its democracy — and its peace.