Perspectives of Victims on the Colombian Peace Process
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On behalf of the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Washington Office on Latin America and the US Institute of Peace, I would like to thank you for having come to listen to these important voices for the rights of victims in Colombia.
I would like to add a few words from another victim, María Jimena Duzán of Semana magazine, who lost her sister to the conflict.
According to the statistics, we are 6 million Colombians. Most of us have had to learn to deal with our tragedy in the shadows of solitude, because society left us abandoned. To survive the sorrow, we drew strength from deep down… We learned to survive despite the indifference, and we have managed to disperse the hate that the heavy weight of impunity leaves behind.
In Colombia there will be, we hope, deep and substantive public discussion in the next couple of months about the victims’ chapter of the accord. And though the participation of victims even in this chapter in the negotiations is limited, it is a crucial moment, and those of us in the international community—especially in the United States, which backed the war and now has a special obligation to back the peace—have a role to play.
We must do what we can to ensure that the voices of victims are not met with indifference in our own countries as well as in Colombia. We should call for a broad inclusion of victims of all armed actors and of all walks of life, and we should call for the serious consideration and adoption of the proposals they bring to the table. And the international community must surround and encourage these negotiations with the FARC, and we hope soon with the ELN, because the conflict grinds on as the peace talks continue in Havana—and every day, still, there is a new victim of the Colombian conflict.
But what is needed is not a month for victims, not an hour and not a year. After 50 years of war what is needed is not a chapter on victims but a library full of books, not a month of negotiations but at least a quarter century in which victims, their rights and their proposals, are put at the center of national and international attention. Their proposals not only for reparations, truth and justice in these negotiations but for transforming Colombian society to ensure the brutal past never again returns are a road map for a more inclusive society and for a just and lasting peace for all Colombians.