Today Colombia suffers a crisis of confidence in politics. Less than half of Colombian citizens voted in the first round of the recent presidential elections. Our people do not want to vote. Our people are convinced they cannot do achieve anything through politics. They think politics is corrupt. Vote for whomever you like, they are the same. No change.
But, still, our people are talking. Our people want peace, not war. Santos’s incapacity to explain what he is doing in Havana—in this absolutely necessary but mysteriously hidden peace process—frustrates the people. This hidden process reinforces their belief that politics is not for the people. They don´t have the right to participate in the process; neither to see the process or make their voices heard.
Why is the peace process a secret, hidden away from the people? It may be because the president is from the elite class and, like many among the elite, he is afraid of the people. It is a fear that paralyzes. And so he keeps it secret, completely isolated, and not only geographically. It is isolated from the citizenship as well. So people do not know what is happening.
This recent political loss, I see it as a warning to the Santos administration. The people are speaking. People are telling Santos, “Yes, we want peace, but we need to know more ; we want peace, but we need to be more involved; we want peace , but you need to listen to us; we want peace, but your mechanisms for communicating with us are not sufficient; we want peace, but we need to participate in achieving it.”
If the Santos administration can clean out its ears and regain the ability to listen, it will not lose the coming election. But I hope it begins to listen not solely out of desperation, but because it really wants to hear what the people are saying with their votes… or lack thereof.
Me, I am optimistic. This government has the ability to listen to the people and open spaces for people; for example, through the Territorial Peace Councils and the National Peace Council. This government has an opportunity to renew public confidence in politics and state legitimacy, and engage the people in transforming our country.
But it starts with cleaning the ears and listening. The first round of elections was a clarion call… if Santos listens, he can win.
– Ricardo Esquivia