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Colombia: a peace’s process

Colombia: a peace's process

220,000 victims dead, 5.8 million displaced internally due to conflict, 25,000 missing and 1,754 victims of sexual violence are only some of the consequences of the 55 years of war in Colombia. Yet the armed conflict has affected, one way or another, almost seven million people, might be approaching a stable peace.

In an event celebrated in Havana, Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and the supreme leader of FARC, Rodrigo Londoño, A.K.A. ‘Timonchenko’, committed to signing a conclusive peace treaty in the span of six months. To ensure this, Santos committed to initiating a distinct, new jurisdiction with Colombian judges and other countries that will be specifically focused on processing individuals that have been implicated in war crimes, whether they were soldiers or members of FARC or civilians.

The revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC) is a terrorist organization that operates in Colombia along the border with Venezuela. They have taken part in the armed conflict in Colombia since 1964. Their clash against the Colombia government has one of atrocious violence and, of course, dire consequences for the civil population, deeply affecting social and economic development.

One of the gravest consequences has been the poverty in which 28.5% of the population lives, with 8.1% of Colombians living in extreme poverty. This means that these people do not have sufficient income to obtain basic food or live in decent conditions. Such statistics place Colombia as 14th in inequality rankings by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

This situation worsens when we look at rural areas of the country, where the armed conflict and armed forces, have been more aggressive. Human rights violations, hostage taking, conflict for land, inequality and a long list of consequences have caused dreadful underdevelopment and isolation. Without access to basic sanitary and educational services, 50% of the female indigenous population cannot find a job.

What does the peace process consist in?

The peace process consists of an agreement that has as an objective to end the conflict in its entirety. To achieve this, there will be discussions and group projects held outside of Colombia, ensuring seriousness, security and discretion. These meetings will go on for a pre-determined length of time and the agreements reached will be continuously revised until concluded.

It is a different process from prior efforts at peace, as it has broadened the scope by including six specific points: internal agricultural development policy, political participation, the end of conflict, the solution to the problem with illegal drugs, rights of victims and the implementation, verification and the countersignature of the actual peace treaty.

Construction of peace through the development of agriculture

The development of farming is something that CODESPA has been working on for years in Colombia. The armed conflict has affected farmers perhaps most of all, preventing them from cultivating their harvests and obtaining income in order to provide for their families. They don’t have tools, or titled lands, or sufficient knowledge to properly development agro-businesses.

At CODESPA, we think that the policy for internal agricultural development that is predicted to arise from peace process is fundamental. Peace must be guaranteed by economic opportunity. People living in the countryside must have the opportunity to carry on and share in national life.

This policy of agricultural development has as its objective the social development of the countryside population, guaranteeing its access to education, housing, sanitation and, as such, eradicating poverty to build a stable peace without exclusion.

Our experience in the north of the department of Cauca confirms that change is possible. Working hand in hand with farmers makes it possible for them to transform their lives. It is essential to invest in training them so that they can increase production on their lands and improve the quality of their products. As the same time, the development of local producers’ organizations (cooperatives, associations) is key so that they can work together and learn from each other. This will also allow them to obtain better sales conditions and greater profit.

Never, in the process of obtaining peace in an armed conflict that has affected so many generations, can we forget about the ordinary people whose lives are at stake. The process must construct peace, placing the spotlight on the people who are to be the beneficiaries of a lasting peace.