Author: Andrea Fernández Aponte
Last week, Secretary Rex Tillerson started his “vintage” tour of Latin America. So far, his messaging has been an eerie throwback to the ill-conceived and disastrous “War on Drugs” as the main focus of U.S. policy towards Latin America. And when it comes to Colombia, this rhetoric is particularly problematic. ACT NOW >>
After four years of negotiations, the Colombian government and the FARC were finally able to reach a peace deal that put an end to a war that spanned over 50 years and claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people. A year later, however, the implementation process of the accord remains sluggish and there are increasing concerns that the accords will unravel. If the United States fails to vigorously back the peace accords, and instead puts pressure on the Colombian government to use harsh drug war methods against small farmers without alternatives in ways that undermine the agreement, the peace accords will be at risk.
Tillerson is heading to Colombia tomorrow so we need to make sure our message is loud and clear: the United States MUST support real peace in Colombia. This means promoting the the full implementation of the peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC, including the accord’s drug policy chapter, which outlines a sustainable, long-term plan to help small farmers who grow coca and poppy to leave the illicit economy behind.
Can you take 2 minutes to contact your members of Congress and urge them to voice support for peace in Colombia at this critical time?>>
We need foreign policy that reflects our values of peace and justice. That’s why we’re asking our senators and representatives to:
• Provide funding for peace accord implementation in Colombia, including programs for victims of the conflict, reintegration of demobilized guerrillas, strengthening human rights, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.
• Encourage the Colombian government to vigorously implement the drug policy chapter of the accord, working closely with farming communities to manually eradicate coca and poppy and replace it with sustainable, legal livelihoods.
• Urge the Colombian government to take action to dismantle paramilitary successor groups that are threatening communities and extending their control over the drug trade.
• Exhort the Colombian government to ensure that the Ethnic Commission is fully included in developing and monitoring the plan to implement the peace accords. The Ethnic Commission is ensures Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities are properly represented in implementing the peace accords.
• Demand the Colombian government take concrete steps to implement effective prevention and protection mechanisms for human and land rights defenders, who continue to be targeted in the post-conflict. According to the UN, 105 rights activists and community leaders were killed in 2017.
This is a crucial moment in Colombia. Elections are around the corner and support for the peace accords hangs in the balance. That’s why the United States needs to firmly stand behind the historic peace accords in Colombia.