By Carmen Garcia
In an attempt to end the half-century interior conflict, an agreement has been signed between the Colombian government and The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) delegations this August. The announcement came early this year, as the peace commission was installed in La Havana. The commission, made up of three representatives from each faction and counseled by non-governmental experts from different fields, is to implement the now-signed peace compromise between the government and the insurgent group.
The commission has been arranged through January 2019, and a renewal will be decided by the peacekeepers then.
The Centre of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) will also be monitoring that each component of the agreement is respected, and there is a plan for foreign institutions to deploy a “Special Electoral Mission,” composed of six members from the Department of Political Science of Chile’s University of Los Andes and its National University, as well as the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
The Electoral Mission’s goal is to formulate recommendations for the national government to ensure autonomy and independence, and to guarantee transparency in the electoral system.
What comes as a landmark, as part of the negotiations, is the cease fire in public spaces and the removal of underage children from the armed groups. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and its specialists will interfere in adapting the minors back into society. It has been estimated that 50 percent of the rebel groups were inducted as children.
An approximated 220,000 people have died in the conflict between 1958 and 2013 (more than 175,000 civilians) and more than five million civilians were forced from their homes between 1985-2012, generating the world’s second largest population of internally displaced persons. Almost one fifth of the population in Colombia has been a direct victim of the war in the past decades.
Like many immigrants, TAMIU’s very own, Dr. José Cardona López, migrated to the United States over twenty years ago to pursue a higher education and to avoid the internal conflict in Colombia. “People back home have never experienced peace. Violence is an industry: the guns, the narcotics, the lands. It’s a cycle of never-ending violence, but it generates money. That’s why we’ve been at war for so long. The sad part is that the people in rural areas are the most affected and are also the most economically challenged. It is time to put everything to rest, for the people.”
The armed conflict developed as a result of a weak state, land possession, the large economic margin, and the polarization and persecution of civilians due to their political association. In addition, the leftist guerrillas and the drug trafficking industry extolled Colombia’s crash.
The basis for dispute vary from group to group. The FARC and other guerrilla movements claim to be fighting for the “rights of the poor in Colombia” to protect them from government violence and to “provide social justice through communism.” The Colombian government claims to be fighting for “order and stability, and seeking to protect the rights and interests of its citizens.” The paramilitary groups claim to be reacting to perceived threats by guerrilla movements. Both guerrilla and paramilitary groups have been accused of engaging in drug trafficking and terrorism. All of the parties engaged in the conflict have been criticized for numerous human rights violations.
The accordance will bring a conclusion to a 52-year war that has broken families, spilled blood, and segregated the country. “It is time to show generosity: we must know how to receive forgiveness, but also give that forgiveness to those that have hurt our people tremendously. It is our only healing process.” Dr. Cardona López’ advice reminds our communities, our countries, and our world that violence and guns cannot withstand the power of tolerance and good diction.