Author: Andrea Fernández Aponte
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Peace is moving ahead in Colombia. In the last couple of months, significant progress has been made in peace accord implementation—nearly all FARC guerrillas (almost 7,000) have moved into concentration zones, the Colombian Congress approved a law allowing former FARC members to participate in politics, and crop substitution programs were launched in some of the areas most affected by the conflict. On May 4, the UN announced that it had received 1,000 weapons from the former guerrillas, and we expect the FARC to finish turning in the rest of their weapons before the end of June.
However, there is still a long way to go before Colombia achieves a just and lasting peace.
Overall, the implementation process has been slow. The Colombian government has fallen behind in providing basic living conditions for the newly demobilized guerrillas in the concentration zones, and there is still a strong political opposition to peace.
Yet, turning back is unthinkable. The conflict, which spanned over 50 years, claimed the lives of over 260,000 people and internally displaced seven million others. Civilians—especially members of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, LGBTQI persons, women, poor farmers, children, trade unionists, and human rights defenders—have suffered the most in this brutal war. No one said peace would be easy, but a return to war is NOT an option.
The United States’ Role
For years, the United States helped fuel the conflict through Plan Colombia—a 10 billion-dollar aid package that mostly funded Colombia’s security forces. The escalation of the conflict led to the deaths of thousands of civilians. Now, as the Colombian people strive to implement the accords, the United States has the moral obligation to support truth, justice, and real peace.
Tell Congress to fully support lasting peace in Colombia>>
Today, we urge our government to:
• Fully back and provide substantial assistance to implement the peace accords;
• Provide assistance for the victims of the conflict to rebuild their lives and reclaim their rights;
• Ensure that counternarcotics efforts work directly with Colombian campesinos to help them shift away from coca and poppy production in a sustainable way, and address the socioeconomic factors that push these farmers to illicit crop cultivation;
• Press for the dismantlement of paramilitary successor groups;
• Stand up for human and land rights defenders, who have been increasingly targeted since the signing of the peace accords;
• Commit to declassify U.S. documents for the truth commission; and
• Support the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN.
Can you take two minutes to contact your legislators and demand they stick up for the implementation of the peace accords?>>
Peace is on the horizon in Colombia, but we can’t claim victory just yet. There’s too much at stake. That’s why we need to make sure our government does the right thing and stands up for justice, human rights, and peace in Colombia.