Colombia Accompaniment Report: The Morning After

By Janet Lowery and Tricia Lloyd-Sidle

We thought people would ask us to explain the vote for Trump, but no. They hugged us, expressed solidarity, and shared concerns about what this might mean for Colombia's peace process. Like many, we were reeling on the morning of November 9, 2016. We were grateful for the hugs and happy to listen rather than talk. Here are some comments and concerns we heard/read in the first post-election days (as translated/paraphrased by us).

2016: This is a bad year for vote tallies, e.g. Brexit, Colombia’s plebiscite, and now Trump!

The NRA: “The Republicans who back Trump are part of the National Rifle Association, so it is likely that the eventual support of the United States to Colombia is restricted or tied to a strong national security policy -- more support for the military than for the peace process.” 

Immigration: (1) Immigration policy towards Colombia will harden, so it will be harder to get a visa; more difficult to travel to the U.S. (2) Numbers are hard to come by, but there may be as many as 500,000 undocumented Colombians in the U.S. Family members here -- who depend on money sent from the U.S. to meet expenses -- worry that their family members in the U.S. will be deported by the new administration.

Free trade: “He won’t touch it. Although Trump has said he will review free trade treaties, the Republican congress will not approve major changes. The Republican Party favors the free market, economic integration and the entry of the US into international markets.”

Why Trump?   Five days after the U.S. election, we attended a Bible study on Luke 21 taught by ruling elder Helis Barraza at la Iglesia 5a “El Modelo.” It was a powerful and fast-moving reflection about Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple -- embodiment of religion’s captivity by corrupt political and economic power. We learned about a contemporary Latin American example of powerful religious institutions entangled with economic and political power. Before concluding the study, Barraza pointed to the overwhelming electoral support for Donald Trump by white evangelicals as one more instance of religion in collusion with powerful economic and political interests.

The Peace Accords: More than any other uncertainty, there is grave concern that a Trump administration will not be supportive of Colombia’s peace process – which, yes, is alive! Since the October 2 “No” vote on the peace accords, there has been an outpouring of public support for peace, an intense month of new negotiations between the government and the FARC guerillas and many meetings with representatives of various political and civil groups. A new accord was reached this week. Now it is all about politics – moving it through some process for approval. (Legislative? Judicial? Another plebiscite?) The United States has been supportive of the peace process – both politically and financially. That support is needed to bolster the Colombian government’s commitment to the process.

Trump’s victory in the US must spur us on to advocate for Peace in Colombia
and in the world with greater conviction and energy.