Colombians dream of peace, fantasize of football (soccer) with Diego Maradona
First, came the almost unimaginable dream of peace in Colombia.
Now, there exists the seemingly pie-in-the-sky dream of home-and-away football games in Cuba and Colombia to support the Colombian peace process. Football matches that could include not only former Colombian national superstars Carlos Valderrama and Mauricio Serna, but one of the greatest players ever, Argentine midfielder Diego Mardona, larger-than-life Paraguayan goaltender José Luis Chilavert, Chilean striker Iván Zamorano and others.
While the cast of supporting characters seems like something from a Latin American football fantasy league, so did the prospect of a peace accord not so long ago. When current president Juan Manuel Santos was running for the presidency few Colombians dreamed the defence minister of right-wing president Álvaro Uribe would do anything other than continue the harsh militaristic policies that he pursued before the election.
Santos first stunned many Colombians by courting peace with then Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, who often seemed on the verge of war with Uribe.
Then a surprised Uribe characterized his successor as a traitor who had no mandate to negotiate a peace agreement after Santos announced he preferred a negotiated end to a half a century of bloody, internal conflict between Colombia´s military forces and the FARC, South America´s largest, and longest standing rebel army and.
Now that agreements have been reached on agricultural reform and political participation for the FARC, there is bold talk of staging two football matches, the first in Havana, Cuba, where negotiators are wrangling over details, and the second in Colombia´s spectacular northern coastal city Santa Marta.
The games itself are from a certainty, but discussing the possibility alone demonstrates how far Colombia´s government, the rebels and the society have come towards abandoning the conflict that has touched almost every Colombian family in one tragic form or another.
Powerful forces will do most anything to defeat the peace process. Uribe, himself, is running for senate in next year´s Colombians elections, and he is backing a puppet presidential candidate who states he will turf the peace process if elected.
Many comments on news stories about the possible peace accord and football matches oppose either negotiating or playing football with people some consider terrorists.
In Cali´s newspaper El País, readers wrote of how the FARC are more accustomed to shooting bullets than footballs and suggested they would use extortion to gain advantage on the playing field, as they did to finance their bitter struggle in the mountains and jungles.
For more information please read in English: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/146564/farc-invite-diego-maradona-to-havana-peace-game-