CAUGHT BETWEEN THE WAR ON DRUGS AND GUERRILLA WARFARE: COLOMBIA'S ROAD TO PEACE
Violence in Colombia has persisted for so many years that entire generations of its population have yet to experience peace. However, for the first time in its history, the ongoing Havana negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC give Colombians a real opportunity to leave behind the seemingly endless conflict. This thesis aims to analyze the factors that contributed to the Colombian dilemma to determine elements crucial to the nation's road towards sustainable peace. By combining Peter Coleman, Charles Call, Mathew Levinger, and Frances Stewart's theories with more than three hundred studies written by Colombian analysts over the last forty years, the new theoretical framework resulted in a shaking but very exciting experience across the country's history. At the end of the road, surprising conclusions counter common theories discussed and accepted worldwide about this dark period in Colombia. This extensive research reveals that misinformation and misinterpretation of historical events as well as factors never taken into account caused the misdiagnosis of the conflict. The war's timeline, debunking the myth that Colombia has an intractable conflict; the existence of two types of displacement, not all violent nor caused by the war; the effects of the narco-lifestyle, still deeply rooted in the Colombian society; and the existence of unknown and unaccounted for victims show that this conflict will require more than a peace accord with the FARC to finally resolve it. Chief among the obstacles ahead are a leadership reluctant to change and a class system that continues to succumb to the demands of the wealthiest elite to the detriment of all other Colombians. However, given President Santos' unquestionable commitment, the hope for peace in Colombia is no longer a dream but rather a tangible option. The skill, compromise, and openness of both Havana negotiating teams represent a significant leap forward towards a more egalitarian society. Hence, Colombia faces today the most important of choices, to begin the long walk towards sustainable peace or to go back to a senseless war that for far too long continues to take the lives of many Colombians.