By a vote of 55 in favor and 10 against, the full Senate approved in its second round of debate draft legislation that includes a transitional article in the Constitution to ensure compliance during three presidencial periods of the peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC- EP). The bill establishes that the contents of the final agreement that "correspond to fundamental rights defined in the Constitution, related rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) standards will be a reference for interpretation, source of validity and normative development of the agreement during the three periods of Presidential elections." To this end, Christ assured that with the approval of this legislative act Colombia "continues advancing in the special legislative procedure, which includes the normative implementation of the agreements". Telesur
Implementing peace was always going to be harder than negotiating it. But in the three months since Colombia’s Congress endorsed a deal to end more than 50 years of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's fragile peace process has already been put to a chilling test. Since Dec. 1 of last year, at least 20 social activists and community leaders have been killed in mostly rural areas across the country in what analysts say is an effort by paramilitary groups to suppress the implementation of the accords.“The current situation is extremely fragile,” Kristian Herbolzheimer, an analyst at London-based peace-building consultant Conciliation Resources, told AQ via email. “Powerful sectors remain opposed to the peace process.” America's Quarterly.
Some 7,000 men and women from FARC finished concentrating in transitional demobilization zones, where they will be spend six months old and will deliver their weapons. It is a historical event, unthinkable a decade ago and rich in teachings about FARC. in particular, and the peace process. in general. Juanita Vélez, from Silla Vacía, draws the following analysis.
After more than half a century of civil war, a peace agreement has been concluded in Colombia. Guerrilla groups, paramilitary organisations and the government are now discussing how to implement disarmament and bring about reconciliation. Colombia’s rural regions have been particularly hard hit by the civil war and the illegal drug trade. Far from the capital, local actors hold sway, and it will be difficult to take steps towards peaceful coexistence. For two decades, Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres, a women’s rights organisation, has been campaigning for peace. Amanda Camilo Ibarra understands the issues well. She is a teacher and represents Ruta Pacífica in Putumayo, in the south of the country, where fighting was fierce. Development and Cooperation
In his January report, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights welcomed progress in the peace talks, but expressed concern about impunity and the human rights impact of the conflict, especially on Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities and human rights defenders. Although the report noted that all the warring parties were responsible for human rights abuses and violations, it stated that paramilitaries (referred to as “postdemobilization armed groups linked to organized crime”) represented “the main Amnesty International Report 2015/16 127 public security challenge”. In August, the CERD Committee noted that the armed conflict continued to have a disproportionate impact on Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities and criticized the failure to ensure the effective participation of these communities in the peace process. The UN Committee against Torture expressed concern over “the persistence of grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the State party” and the fact that “it has not received information concerning criminal trials or convictions for the offence of enforced disappearance." Amnesty International
FARC will begin handing over their weapons to a UN commission next March 1, said today the head of the strategic transition command (COET) general Javier Flórez. "The issue of physical delivery of weapons will begin March 1 with 30%; on May 1 another 30% and, on June 1, 40%. Ad all weapons will have been turned in," said Florez in a Bogota press conference. The senior official has reiterated that the process of abandoning weapons will be staggered in compliance with the 180-day deadline, which began on December 1 and will end on June 1. Edukia Euskaraz Ikusi
ELN, says senator Alvaro Uribe, "murders the nation's soldiers, blows up a pipeline, attacks citizens in Bogotá and nothing happens. Dialogue should be suspended until ELN accepts and abides by a total cessation of criminal activity," said the founder of the Centro Democrático. El País
ELN atenta contra Bogotá, asesina policía de la Patria, derrama petróleo en rio de Boyacá y Santos mantiene el diálogo.
Qué mal ejemplo! pic.twitter.com/2lOCUzhLrV
In his visit to a transitional zone in Putumayo, the president was interviewed for the first time by NC News, a news organization that belongs to the guerillas of FARC. He spoke of the challenges of the process once the transfer to the transitional demobilization zones has been completed and of those who still doubt that the agreement reached in Havana will be fulfilled. El Espectador
The effect of this de jure amnesty is the immediate and definitive release of those who, being deprived of freedom, have benefited from this measure.
Regarding the number of FARC-EP guerrillas, militiamen and collaborators who could benefit from the amnesty, legal adviser to the peace team, Enrique Santiago, says that it could be in somewhere in the range of 2,500 to 3,000. Contagio Radio
Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels can begin surrendering their weapons to the United Nations now that almost 7,000 of them have reached designated demobilization zones around the country, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday. Reuters
After completing over the weekend the displacement of some 6,900 FARC guerrillas, President of Colombia and current Nobel Peace Prize winner, Juan Manuel Santos, visited on Monday one of the 26 zones where the guerrillas will lay down their arms in the coming months.
"We'll start applying all protocols for the definitive cease-fire and of the abandonment of arms begin to be applied ... From this moment the zones are active and we are going to push the pedal", said the president from an area known as La Carmelita, in the department of Putumayo.
The UN, which leads the verification of ceasefire between the guerrillas and the army, criticized this weekend construction delays of the infrastructures for these disarmament zones. Voz de América
¡Noticia histórica! Farc están concentradas para desarmarse. Ahora es nuestro turno para construir unidos esa paz que tanto hemos anhelado pic.twitter.com/yz7ff3MDHy
The peace process with FARC is credited with a 19% drop in the purchase and sale of weapons in Colombia during the past 5 years, corresponding to the period 2012-2016.
[...] In Latin America there was a 18% drop in purchases, although variations were substantial: while Colombia decreased by 19% -- coinciding with the peace negotiations between the Government and FARC -- Mexico increased 184% due to to violence related to drug trafficking.
The United States was the main supplier for both countries, accounting for 39% of Colombian purchases and 78% of Mexican purchases.
Russia accounted for 34% of arms deliveries to South America in 2012-2016, followed by the United States (16%) and France (8.1%). Zona Cero
"Here, the public-private partnership model is quite applicable. Colombia should consider creating an independent, impartial body comprised of leaders from the public and private sectors to oversee the implementation process and prevent corruption. Such an institution could leverage the leadership of the public sector with the resources of the private sector, and might prove valuable in creating consensus and approval among social groups concerned with how the peace deal will affect the nation going forward.
"In the wake of one of the biggest corruption scandals in history, Colombia has a unique opportunity to seize this moment and reject business as usual. Through partnership and substantive reform, it can make major progress in eradicating corruption. Forums like the Concordia Americas Summit in Bogotá on Feb. 21 represent a unique opportunity to develop meaningful partnerships, and we look forward to fostering collaboration for a better future in Colombia and beyond at the summit in Bogotá." Devex
"The transfer of the guerrillas to 26 assembly points across the country, where they will lay down their weapons and prepare for their return to civilian life under the supervision of the UN, began on 28 January. President Juan Manuel Santos described the movement as 'historic.'"
Colombia is seeking to put an end to more than half a century of armed conflict, involving about 30 guerrilla organizations, paramilitaries and law enforcement agencies, causing at least 260,000 deaths, more than 60,000 missing and 6.9 million displaced. In February, the government launched peace talks with the last guerrilla group active in territory of Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarista). Le Monde
Hanging over the country is the memory of another peace deal and another massacre 30 years ago. Around 3,000 members of the leftwing Unión Patriótica were murdered, effectively sinking that agreement and leaving a deep scar on the national psyche. [...]
“Ultimately the problem is one of time, and a question of who has more initiative. While the government forces are adapting to the new situation, armed groups are in an atmosphere conducive to growing their thriving illegal businesses,” the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation said.
“Either everything that sounds so good on paper must be put into practice, or it will be too late for many areas, where a new enemy is lurking.” The Guardian
Cerón Gómez is the 20th social leader killed in the almost 80 days since the implementation of the peace agreements between the government and FARC began. This means that every four days a community leader has been killed throughout the country. Most of the killings, six of them, have taken place in Cauca. Three have been killed in Antioquia and Cesar. Human rights defenders have also been murdered in Córdoba, La Guajira, Bolívar, Atlántico, Putumayo, Chocó and Valle del Cauca. Pacifista!
[..] The government itself, as well as the Nobel Peace Prizes gathered in Bogota a few weeks ago, asked presidential candidates to respect the peace agreement above political ambitions, which is why there are those who welcome a possible candidacy of the chief negotiator with FARC, liberal Humberto de la Calle. [..] It remains to be seen, however, what will be the impact of FARC's entry into the upcoming electoral process, and whether it will end up adding votes to one of the candidates who takes ownership of the peace flag. El Economista América
Because of its privileged geographical situation in a mountainous region, near the highway Medellín - Bogota, since the middle of the eighties, Granada was targeted by armed groups: guerrillas, the paramilitary, and the army. It suffered harassment, massacres, car bombs, displacement, military occupation, kidnappings and extrajudicial executions. Global Voices
"Colombia is reducing poverty and, in particular, extreme poverty," said the Vatican's Nuncio, adding: "With the help of all, violence, enmity and prejudice can be overcome, reviving confidence in a better country and Promoting reconciliation." El Siglo de Durango
These children will now have a future. [...] Catherine, after a long process, reconciled with her mother, without forgetting her scars and is now working with two of her brothers. She, like many children who've come out of the tragic madness of the Colombian conflict, lives by a motto that inspires confidence in them and in a society which they no longer see as an enemy: "Only you can do it, but you can not do it alone". Actualidad DW
The little houses that tell stories of pain and forgiveness: 'Memories in color' is a project in which 300 demobilized, FARC, ELN and paramilitary groups built small houses which they later painted telling their stories. 50 of them were exhibited at the Herencia Verde Gallery. The event was attended by government officials, journalists and artists. El Espectador
"These 1,200 new professional soldiers are part of a group of more than 5,000 who are graduating this year and will be deployed to the most critical areas of Colombia," General Alberto Jose Mejía said as he presided over the graduation of new professional soldiers in Nilo, central Colombia. "The purpose is to occupying unstable areas." Reuters
Things are generally going well. FARC has kept our promise of bringing our troops to the concentration zones, from where we will be moving to the transitional zones. We have found some difficulties along the way: Construction is not ready for the facilities where guerrillas will dwell for 180 days. The government has had problems meeting its commitment. Despite that, FARC has arrived to the zone. About 98%. BBC
The 650 community stations that exist in Colombia today have undertaken the task of gaining strength to support the implementation of the agreement between the guerrilla and the Government. Community radio emerged 20 years ago when the first dials were assigned by the Ministry of Communications. The objective is to implement a social and business model that can give them sustainability. The networks main objective, according to Fernando Tibaduiza Araque who has watched over the project since its inception: To be able to thrive as a social enterprise and as a cultural project of community development in the territories they serve. Interview in El Espectador
Despite donations of more than US$ 2,000 million received by La Guajira in less than 30 years, most of the indigenous people live in absolutely inhuman conditions: lacking water, food, health services, transportation, education, justice and democracy, if we take into consideration that democracy has been kidnapped by gigantic and powerful criminal gangs.
I am convinced that you would be the first one astonished to know with certainty that the world's greatest extermination by hunger is occurring now, ironically, in the only country on the planet governed by a Nobel Prize winner. Gonzalo Guillén Semana
"At the level of the ethnic groups, we need to adapt our institutions in ways that make it possible to implement directly with afro-descendants matters related to the Development Plan with a Territorial Approach, which deals with the incorporation and political participation of former combatants who are also members of ethnic groups," writes Daniel Garces, also warning about the void that exists in terms of political representation of Afro-Colombians in the nation's Congress, because of the current vacancy of two seats allocated by way of Law 70 in the House of Representatives". Colombia Plural
After 55 years of civil conflict that killed some 220,000 citizens, Colombia is indubitably on the path to peace. Juan Manuel Santos’s government has signed a peace agreement with the FARC rebels and launched negotiations with the ELN, the country’s second-largest guerrilla group, which is still armed and active.
But accords are only the first step toward ending war. Afterwards come disarmament, reintegration, reparations, justice – all the hard work of making peace stick in a traumatised and deeply polarised nation. At this fragile crossroads, The Conversation Global invited scholars to reflect on recent peace processes from around the globe. The question: what lessons could Colombia take away from other nations’ transitions from civil war to peace? The Conversation
The United Nations warned last year that the local Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations needed "urgent" protection. Authorities say there are 6,000 people displaced and 7,000 confined to their homes in the surrounding Choco region for fear of violence.
"We cannot guarantee that the peace process will end the violence," says Luis Carlos Arce, governor of Alto Tumando, another settlement of displaced people.
"The violence of hunger, its impact on education and health -- that is not going to end."
The peace agreement reached between the Government and FARC opens great opportunities and challenges for the country, but if social inequality is not reduced, building peace will be very difficult. That was the conclusion reached by President Juan Manuel Santos and Nobel laureate Joseph Stigliz, who called for improved educational policies: "What separates the more developed countries from the less developed ones is the knowledge gap. We have to invest in education." Santos closed by saying that his government's goal is to leave the next generations "a country in peace, a country with more equality and a more educated country". El Tiempo
The number of FARC members remains uncertain. So far, it is known that some 6,450 insurgents have reported to the transitional areas for normalization. However, mystery remains as to the number of militiamen who are part of that guerrilla group. Jaramillo warns of the need to ensure that they identify themselves very quickly "and that they go to the areas to be certified and to make their transit to legality, because those who do not do so, expose themselves to capture and will not get any benefits." El Colombiano
On an official visit to Colombia this week President Michael D. Higgins acknowledged the work of 'many groups and individuals' who have travelled between Colombia and Ireland in recent months to 'discuss lessons and parallels from our respective journeys', saying Ireland 'can make a contribution by making available our own experience of peacebuilding over the last 20 years and more'”. Irish Catholic
Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia's envoy to Washington D.C., discusses the importance for the US to embrace the peace process, a new phase of a decades-old bilateral partnership. Excerpts from an opinion piece Mr. Pinzón published 2/15/17 in The Hill.
[...] "An alliance once narrowly focused on combatting security challenges has matured and expanded to issues critical to the future of both nations and the hemisphere, including advancing cooperation on energy, education and innovation.
"As with Plan Colombia, Peace Colombia will largely be supported by Colombian taxpayers, who will fund more than 90 percent of the initiative. The Peace Colombia effort will lead to additional progress that benefits Americans, including reductions in crime, drug trafficking and illegal mining.
"Broader than that, the initiative will strengthen Colombia and our shared goals. With a track record of progress, Colombia and the United States are well positioned to achieve even more together." The Hill
Is your company, Virgin Mobile Colombia, going to hire FARC ex-combatants?: We totally agree with that policy and when I was here the last time we discussed it with management. I do not know if it is already being implemented, but it is an issue that interests us and, if they have not already done so, they will definitely do so in the future, we have to set an example. Dinero.com
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday reiterated his thanks to his Ecuadorian counterpart and host, Rafael Correa, for the latter’s support of Bogota’s peace process with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. “Many thanks for all the support that you have been giving us, support in the peace process. Your generosity, your vision, your commitment to peace in the region and peace in Colombia is something that we will never forget,” said Santos upon his arrival in the city of Guayaquil to meet with his Ecuadorian colleague. On Feb. 7, the Colombian government and the ELN in Quito began an historic dialogue with an eye toward ending the confrontation they have pursued for more than 52 years, after the peace accord signed on Nov. 24 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Latin American Herald Tribune
Visiting Bogotá where he'll join other artists for a performance, Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat said that although some sectors are making every effort possible to "delay" the peace process, it will move forward. "The people of Colombia are increasingly convinced about the road to follow, there is no other solution that does not including turning in your weapons". Diario de las Américas
The year 2016 closed with a balance of 117 social leaders and human rights defenders killed in just one year. For a society that claims to be democratic and a defender of life, that figure is but an embarrassment and should lead people to pour out on the streets protesting. It is a concealed, silent genocide by a government that denies the systematicity and political motives executed through paramilitarism.
The defense of peace also involves the defense of life and political participation. Today, when it comes to implementing the peace agreement signed between the Government and the FARC, and as dialogues develop with ELN, it is necessary to bare the words and to show the face of the war that's perpetrating a genocide against the political opposition in Colombia. Con la Oreja Roja
Other than standing in full support for the Peace Process, the Colombia Peace Report is an independent aggregation news site published in New York City. We gather materials in several languages (our headlines and blurbs will be in English linking to the original language) covering the multiple facets of this seemingly impossible and highly complex process in a nation of 65 million people where generation after generation have resolved their personal, social and political differences through violence. And life has had no value. We invite you to send us information via email.