Marc Chernick, the Visionary Scholar for Peace in Colombia

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Date: Apr 26, 2018

Author: Lisa Haugaard

Marc Chernick was the foremost U.S. scholar of the decades-long quest for peace in Colombia. Documenting and working for peace through several failed peace processes, he never gave up hope. He died while working on what he loved, suffering a heart attack on April 17, 2018, at a gathering for peace in Cali.

I first met Marc in the mid-1980s at the other Columbia, where we were both members of a small group of comparative politics PhD students focused on Latin America. He was conducting his research on Colombia at a time when everyone else was focused on the Southern Cone or Central America, and he gently convinced teachers and colleagues that Colombia was far more than Pablo Escobar.

Marc was a caring teacher and mentor to his students at Georgetown University. He was also engaged in practical research and consultancies on human rights and peace issues in Colombia for international agencies which made strong contributions to building peace and strengthening human rights, recently on a project to convene regional and local peace dialogues around the country. Marc was the genuine article, a deeply socially committed scholar. In the last few years he spent more time in Colombia, happily working at the Universidad de los Andes and living a Bogotá life.

Marc was joyous at the signing of the peace accords—even though with his deep knowledge and experience, he knew the challenges that lay ahead. From the mid-1980s at Columbia to his final day in Cali, what shone from Marc was his magical, patient, profound faith in the many Colombian people who put their lives on the line for peace.

Marc, scholar and friend, kind mentor, man with such a big heart, champion of decades of struggle for peace in Colombia—you will be missed.