Colombia : the long road to peace

 

2017 03 fundepaz

After more than fifty years of conflict, the peace agreement signed between Colombia and the FARC was rejected by referendum last September. However, the process continues after the ratification of a new treaty at the end of 2016 ; the road to peace seems difficult, the situation is complex and is not just about an armed conflict.

AEDH spoke to two Colombian collaborators who work in different areas : Sembrar supports and defends campesinos in a territory with a high land property component (agriculture, gold mining) and Fundepaz has an observatory for human rights violations in the South of the country, area with coke cultivation, production and smuggling of cocaine. They provide us with their respective analysis.

AEDH : What sort of peace is it?

Our guests emphasised the difference between the signed agreement between the State and the FARC and the forms of social, economic and political conflict corrupting the country.

Sembrar : Just as they are negotiating the reconciliation, a series of violent acts, took place assassinations and intimidations against social leaders in the rural areas, many strategies to expel farmers, miners and indigenous populations from their lands. Land ownership by capitalist interests is still relevant.  A campesinos explained : "they still accuse us of being guerrilleros or collaborators of the guerrilla to deny our existence, and kick us out of our land".

Fundepaz : We observed a sharp decreased of war acts (kidnappings, terrorist attacks…) linked to the conflict between the State and the guerrilla. The FARC ceased to intervene and re-joined the land assigned to them as part of the agreement. However, violence linked to the drug trade is still there, as in Tumaco, city of about 200 000 inhabitants occupied by armed groups : freedom of movement and expression suppressed, forced enlistment of young people…

AEDH : How do you see the continuation of the process?

For both actors, the involvement of civil society is essential.

Sembrar : We cannot have peace without the involvement of the local community ; and yet, the last agreement reduced this involvement and neither the State nor the local authorities want it. We currently organise workshops with the rural communities to engage a memory work on the violence they suffered and to define what peace means, at a political and social level, in the acquisition of fundamental rights, the respect of human rights and reconciliation…

Fundepaz : The people will be a major leverage to obtain peace. For example, we need the involvement of the relatives of the disappeared for the investigation and to find traces of these people. We also carry out surveillance and civil involvement actions to ensure the compliance with the agreement, such as verifying that the State is correctly contributing the allocated means to the reunification of the FARC. Everywhere, Colombian women have a decisive role in these actions, despite the blockages by the local powers.

AEDH : What can we do to support this road to peace? 

Here, the two organisation had a similar speech : the support of local associations is essential.

Sembrar : Peace cannot be confined to a national agreement between the State and armed groups : local association must stay vigilant and denounce forms of violence and violation of rights underpinning the conflict. They must have the means provided to organise themselves and act.

Fundepaz : We also fear that international aid is oriented towards the State and local powers, often corrupted. Peace means participation of local population, the first affected by the armed conflict. We must not forget the international network support and solidarity, necessary for the respect of rights and denunciation of acts of violence.

The network France Colombia Solidarity, of which AEDH is a member, organises a meeting in Grenoble, on the 17th and 18th of October 2017, about the peace process in Colombia. 

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