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More thoughts on my book #ForgottenPeace + the nearly 3-year-old peace process in Colombia, after today's news that a group of FARC commanders are rearming 1/
I was supposed to spend today revising a much-overdue article on the FARC's founding myths + preparing a presentation on Colombia's current security situation for an upcoming international conference on asylum. Both questions come together in today's news 2/
(Thread will be slow to unfold, as school hasn't started yet here + my kids are still home. Espero publicar el hilo pronto en español también) 3/
#ForgottenPeace's 1st half is the story of how rural and urban Colombians came together in the late 1950s in a shared effort at peacemaking that was without precedent in post-1945 Latin America, + indeed lacked global precedents around negotiations, memory, + reconciliation 4/
When I started #ForgottenPeace in 2012, negotiations b/w the Colombian govt + FARC were just getting underway in Havana. I saw the book as arguing for the historical possibility of peace. Accord signed in November 2016; book came out March 2017 5/
But by the time #ForgottenPeace came out in translation in 2018, my sense had changed. Govt had mishandled preparations for FARC demobilization; local activists were being murdered at an alarming rate. Party opposed to accord was poised to win the presidency 6/
By 2018, #ForgottenPeace was a cautionary tale for how a peace process could come apart. This is what a number of ppl have commented on in light of today's news: 7/
I see parallels b/w #ForgottenPeace + the present playing out along 2 temporalities, the 2nd of which really only became apparent to me today. Both highlight what a tight window peace advocates have to push thru initiatives 8/
There was no single accord in Colombia in the late 1950s, as country exited Latin America's worst midcentury violence + nearly 8 years of authoritarian rule. But let's take August/September 1958 as starting point for peace process 9/
(Lleras Camargo, 1st democratically elected president in 12 years, took office in August; the so-called "Peace Commission" hit its stride hearing victims + negotiating local peace pacts in subsequent weeks) 10/
The Lleras Camargo administration's peace initiatives ran into trouble by May 1959, w/ a series of rural massacres. In a direct echo of uribista arguments today, opposition Conservatives seized on the issue, saying the govt had brought impunity, not peace 11/
Such critiques led Lleras' government to curtail various programs by June 1959. By January 1960, rural peoples – including excombatants – exhausted the state funding they had received. Violent local feuds followed in some spots, as state also looked to assert its presence 12/
Homicide levels were still down from previous months, but January 1960's violence had consequences. Most important was the murder of the Communist agrarian leader/excombatant Charro Negro (5th from left in the 1957 photo on #ForgottenPeace's cover) 13/
Charro Negro's death would be a key complaint behind the formation of the FARC in 1964/66. Even in the mid-1980s, FARC founder Manuel Marulanda Vélez (4th from left on #ForgottenPeace's cover) still referred to Charro's death as "the most painful [blow]" 14/
So by 2018, I was asking myself how local violence of January 1960 compared to ongoing assassinations of local activists + former FARC. ~16 months had elapsed since peace accord in both cases 15/
Had 2018 Colombia experienced the death of its Charro Negro, a local murder that would end up having profound regional + ultimately national consequences? How long until we even capable of recognizing who this was?

In any case, window for consolidating peace so, so narrow 16/
This is the 1st temporality I thought through. Let's turn to talk about the 2nd, which I perhaps could have envisioned earlier, but is – again – only apparent w/ the announcement of FARC-EP 2.0 17/
Scholarly + popular opinion on Colombia has long held that elections didn't matter under the 1958–74 Liberal-Conservative National Front powersharing agreement. #ForgottenPeace shows that the question of peace mattered a lot for elections + elections for the future of peace 18/
Having successfully challenged the Liberal administration's peace policies in 1959 (see tweets 11 + 12), opposition Conservatives rode the issue to victory in the March 1960 congressional election. No National Front govt would again attempt such ambitious initiatives 19/
Then, in 1962, the Conservative Party took the presidency under National Front powersharing rules. The new administration's inauguration that August coincided w/ a spate of rural "bandit" attacks + the release of the instant social-science classic, _La violencia en Colombia_ 20/
The previous administration's peace policies were even more thoroughly repudiated. The govt of Guillermo León Valencia substantially ramped up repression of rural communities, in order to stamp out "banditry" 21/
Although local + regional actors worked hard to prevent full-blown confrontation, at the national level the stage was set for the 1964 invasion of Marquetalia, which became – as we see anew this week – the FARC's origin story 22/
Rural combatants, who had affiliated w/ the Colombian Communist Party during the Conservative + military repression of the 1940s + '50s, had participated in the peacemaking initiatives of the late 1950s 23/
It was in large part the refusal of substantial sectors of Colombia's governing elite to treat these rural Communists as political actors, of the state they directed to meet rural people's demands, that led to the formation of the FARC 24/
(These same families are in power today, more than a half century later. The "oligarchy" that members of the FARC denounced then + denounce today have many of the same surnames) 25/
This is where current events, including the 2018 release of #ForgottenPeace's translation, dovetail w/ the history my book tells 26/
#LaPazOlvidada's launch happened just days before the 1st round of Colombia's 2018 presidential election. We had a packed house; the tension what a right-wing victory would mean for peace was palpable. I couldn't shake the parallels w/ the 1960 + especially 1962 elections 27/
_La violencia en Colombia_ became the subject of a national controversy in 1962, w/ a Conservative in power + new forms of rural violence emerging. Critics attacked book as pro-Liberal, as encouraging bandits (cartoon ruling Conservative La República) 28/
(Not to make too strong a comparison w/ _La violencia en Colombia_, but the grumpiest senior historian in my field published a review of my book very much of a piece w/ the 1962 critiques – also no less than the day after Duque's administration, as if to underscore the point) 29/
And so this week we have a small group of excombatants declaring a return to the armed path. Here's the temporality I wish I had seen: how many months from the inauguration of a new, antipeace administration until a declaration of armed resistance 30/
It was 21 months from Valencia taking office to Marquetalia 1; 13 months from Duque taking office to now 31/
There are, of course, profound differences b/w then + now. Influence of drugs, for one. 1964 also saw what was probably the largest single counterinsurgency operation in Latin America during the 1960s 32/
The announcement of FARC-EP 2.0 formalizes a dissidence that was already operating. In that way, it is more similar to the formal creation of the FARC in 1966 out of the survivors of the 1964 Marquetalia operation + likeminded groups elsewhere in Colombia 33/
I would argue too that the generational experiences were very different. Today's FARC came of age within the organization; their outward frames of reference are different from those of the group's founders 34/
But the grievances articulated in 1964 + now are otherwise strikingly similar. Compare Iván Márquez's quote from this week (left) about the "State's indifference + indolence" toward the murders of 500+ local activists + 150 excombatants 35/
w/ the final petition sent by Marulanda + the inhabitants of Marquetalia to President Valencia ahead of the 1964 invasion. The largest portion of the letter details assassinations/assaults carried out vs excombatants by rivals acting w/ the connivance of military authorities 36/
Has #ForgottenPeace become the chronicle of a rearming foretold? I heard from several Colombians, including my brilliant translator @SaninPazC, on this point yesterday. 37/
@SaninPazC This new FARC has not launched any attacks. But it does not need to in order to do grevious damage to the peace process. Its importance is political, discursive, symbolic: it takes attention away from violence vs. local activists, which is the real tragedy of this process 38/
@SaninPazC And the existence of a FARC-EP 2.0 creates space for the opponents of peace – politicians + others who have had a heavy hand in violence + corruption – to attack not simply the accord, but the entire possibility of a politics without arms 39/
@SaninPazC There are 2 substantive arguments that I wish I could have added to #ForgottenPeace before it was published. Twitter might not be the best forum to introduce the bigger one, but will dive into it here tomorrow 40/
@SaninPazC Colombia's internal conflict of the 1940s + '50s is known as La Violencia (The Violence). It is an essential part of Colombia's reputation for being a historically violent country 41/
@SaninPazC #ForgottenPeace's final chapters show how the term "La Violencia" wasn't in contemporary use, but was created in the 1960s by the same social scientists who had written _La violencia en Colombia_ in 1962 42/
@SaninPazC By going from writing about "violence" as an abstract problem to describing a specific period from the 1940s to the '50s as "La Violencia," 43/
@SaninPazC these social scientists appropriated a rural experience to describe their disillusionment w/ the democratic politics in which the peacemaking efforts of the late 1950s had taken shape + the development programs that grew out of those initiatives 44/
@SaninPazC "La Violencia" 1st full-length book appearance was sociologist Orlando Fals Borda's 1967 _La subversión social en Colombia_. My sense is that his 1970s columns in the magazine _Alternativa_ helped disseminate term, thus entrenching a particular vision of Colombia's violence 45/
@SaninPazC Here's the argument I wish I had put into #ForgottenPeace. I have talked about it w/ @jorgegj8, who is researching similar issues in later decades 46/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 1967 saw the publication of not just Fals Borda's _La subversión social_, but also _One Hundred Years of Solitude_

My guess is that this novel popularized the notion of Colombia’s violence as cyclical, + in so doing reinforced the reception of “La Violencia” 47/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 (Worth mentioning that García Márquez collaborated on _Alternativa_ alongside Fals Borda during the 1970s) 48/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 I question this cyclical view of history, in part b/c of the work I did on memory for #ForgottenPeace. Did Aureliano Buendía feel the same way after fighting his 7th civil war, 19th, or 32nd as he did after his 1st? 49/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 (It's been a long time since I read all of _One Hundred Years of Solitude_, + I'm hardly up to date on García Márquez criticism, so perhaps others have written on this) 50/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 But now, w/ the announcement of this FARC faction's rearmament...I haven't sunk to such levels of despair about the peace process. Perhaps history is cyclical.

@SD_Cohen + @SaninPazC, ppl whose opinions about Colombia I so admire, feel the same way. 51/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 @SD_Cohen To conclude: #ForgottenPeace has held up well in the 2.5 yrs since its publication. If anything, events in Colombia have made it even more relevant (in ways I wish it weren't). The book is a referent in Colombians' conversations about their present. Never dreamt this possible 52/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 @SD_Cohen If you enjoyed this thread, I hope you'll consider reading #ForgottenPeace/#LaPazOlvidada. It's also available for download on @JSTOR. amazon.com/Forgotten-Peac… 53/
@SaninPazC @jorgegj8 @SD_Cohen @JSTOR I'll close this thread w/ part of the inscription I always write when I sign copies of the book in Colombia: otra Colombia sí es posible. Nuestro deber es con la paz

Another Colombia is indeed possible. Our responsibility is to the cause of peace 54/*
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