CONGRESS FOR PEACE – convened by CONGRESO DE LOS PUEBLOS
Proposals from the nation for building peace INTRODUCTION.
Colombia lives in a social, political and armed conflict that is over 50 years old. This conflict has historical roots in inequality, repression and hunger. These causes of the conflict still exist. It is also clear that the human and economic costs of half a century of war are very high for the country and for its people: displacement, sexual violence, daily violence and sadness. Peace has been one of the most urgent aspirations of diverse social sectors in Colombia, and today once more the necessity of a politically negotiated solution – but with the participation of wider society – appears at the centre of national debate.
Eight years of government by Uribe, when the politics of ‘democratic security’ and war were strengthened, demonstrated that a military exit from this conflict is not possible. The failure of the military and the ‘democratic security’ route is evident. Peace is not just the silencing of the guns, it is the opening up of a full exercise of rights for all Colombians. To achieve peace is synonymous with justice, equality, inclusion, employment, housing, health, education and in the formulation and construction of a new political and economic model that includes the entire nation.
We find ourselves before a new stage of dialogue between the FARC and the government and in the expectation that a dialogue with the ELN will also be opened. The agendas and dynamics of these negotiation tables have certain limits given by their contexts. However in the wider society and its social organisations and democratic grassroots movements, we have decades of experience in building and working on these themes, facing the necessity of advancing towards a country at peace, with social justice, and a life of dignity. We believe that we need broad social and and political platforms that take account of this accumulated knowledge and allow those of us on this path to make proposals to the country.
To achieve these purposes we consider it necessary to create a national Congress for Peace, as a meeting place for all those who want and look to work on a proposal for a holistic peace and a life of dignity. There have been many call-outs made to advance this and many steps made towards achieving this end.
The Congreso de los Pueblos, in its inaugural session en October 2010, laid out a peace proposal within the framework of a vision of Life, Justice, and Paths Toward Peace, understanding that it is not possible to develop this in a new type of country, or by ignoring the current state of economic, social and political conflict in which the Colombian people have been mired. An attempt was made to give form to one of the seven strategic axes for building peace. The political commission of Congreso de los Pueblos (CdlP) created in Dos Quebradas in June 2011 signalled the necessity of driving forward and articulating the other initiatives we are developing in the Congress for Peace, understood as a holistic strategy for developing various dimensions of social and political action.
We begin by understanding a proposal of Peace as i) a process, not a momentary action; ii) built upon local, regional and national level dynamics, respecting the particularities, histories and specific presences of particular actors; iii) peace goes further than achieving a ceasefire and implies tackling the substantial problems of communities in social, political, economic and juridical terms; iv) from the above we can conclude that to discuss peace for Colombia implies a dialogue of different voices: communities, insurgents, the state, economic powers, the churches, and the international community; v) the Congress for Peace is a holistic proposal for peace, to overcome by way of politics and argumentation the essential problems of communities; a solution to open the windows of life, doors to the future and paths of dignity for our people.
Peace for the Congreso de los Pueblos is part of the mandate, the necessities and the desires of the Colombian population, as expressed in the statement of 2010, LIFE, JUSTICE AND PATHS TO PEACE: “It is impossible to build a country for everyone without making a commitment to peace and justice, our framework of thought is not short-term but part of the character of life itself.”
The reality of life in ordinary communities, urban and rural, screams to us that it is necessary that the communities discuss how to find a solution to the social, economic and political conflict that the Colombian people live. We have lived more than 200 years of war that has molded the objective and subjective realities of the Colombian people and has left deep tracks in our memory and in the life of communities, and has brought a level of human degradation that must stop.
The process of building peace – by which we mean halting the armed conflict and strengthening the conditions and guarantees for the improvement of the welfare of the population – has always been crushed in Colombia by those with an interest in maintaining the politics of war. We have seen many attempts, many false hopes, frustrated dreams and an almost total veto on making arguments about the war on terror and the post-conflict context. The current situation re-opens the possibility of once more shouting aloud for peace.
In building the idea of the Congress for Peace we have been involved in spaces like the Ruta Social Común para la Paz, where diverse social sectors and organisations can articulate important contributions to the construction of peace. We believe in the necessity of building a broad-based social movement for a comprehensive peace that expresses the commitments to peace of the great majority of the country, a common path by which we can walk together down a shared route.
It is vital to propose scenarios and spaces in which we can exchange visions and build collective decisions. We must built broad platforms, organisations, processes and working dynamics that can bring us to agreement, knowing that on issues of peace we must move from simple movements to the possibility of a movement.
The Congress for Peace is understood as a process that should involve diverse levels of sensitization and visibilization of proposals and experiences, regional and national gatherings, and the construction of mandates for peace. It has a deliberative character in that it involves the participation of spaces, voices and processes, and collective decision-making for the construction of a common legislature to mandate the future and present of our country. We are creating the future but also generating participatory legislative proposals for the present, for a moment of change in our country. The character of the Congress for Peace is the construction of a mandate for peace.
The Congress for Peace is broad-based, representative and mobilizing process in the sense that it takes account of participatory decision-making in local, sectoral and regional processes. The Congress will give power to the voice of grass-roots movements and democratic social sectors that join this historical process of peace-building, working from a broad social base with a vision of a new and peaceful country.
The Congress for Peace looks for elements in common so there can be a collective expression by the various social sectors participating in any peace scenario. The character of the congress allows diverse levels of participation according to the confidence and level of relationship that can be built.
3. GENERAL OBJECTIVE:
To consolidate and position our collective proposal for peace and for the country through the articulation of visions, commitments and social initiatives at the local regional and national level. These will contribute to the construction of a holistic peace for Colombia and to the generation of concrete initiatives and mandates for this moment our country is living, as required to advance towards a country at peace.
4. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:
– To gather, articulate, construct and mobilise a social agenda that addresses the real problems of communities in terms of the social, the political, the economic, the cultural and the juridical.
– To contribute to strengthening a social movement for peace by enhancing the voice of grassroots movements and their vision of peace.
– To contribute to various national and international forums and platforms for peace-building in order to build alliances around humanitarian, structural and political themes.
– To generate social mobilization for peace, to enhance the development of actions for peace and acts of mobilization and resistance.
- 5. THEMES OF THE CONGRESS:
1. Proposal for a holistic peace and a new country
a. Building a people’s notion of peace. Proposals and mandates for peace from the perspective of the people of the country.
b. A social agenda for peace, towards a new country:
– The economic model of dispossesion and its motors. Life plans and alternatives from the people.
– Model of justice. Victims and genocidal politics in Colombia. Overcoming the humanitarian crisis: disappearances and political prisoners.
– Land and territory. Consolidation of the mandates of the Congress on land and territory.
– A life with dignity and rights for the people. Education, women, health, housing etc.
– Political model. Democracy and civil and political rights. Demands and possibilities for political action and social mobilization. Consciencious objectors and freedom of religion.
- Scenarios and paths for peace
a. Building peace from a social base and from the regions
b. Popular participation for peace
c. Guarantees of right to political action
- Social and political action for peace
- Social mobilization and convergence for peace
- Development and the articulation of demands
- Advocacy and the international community
- Communication and visibilization. Alternative and commercial media.
A congress built with and for the people and communities, moving towards a scenario where its political purposes can be collectively taken forward, building from a social base, from the regions, from the people, from different social sectors, and from the grassroots. This is how we should take forward the Congress for Peace.
The methodology of the Congress for Peace is to build from a regional base and from the routes articulated within social processes and grassroots movements. It will try to take account of the national picture while focussing on the regional, taking on the dynamics of the local processes of articulation that are building peace and a new country.
The methodology of the process of the Congress for Peace is to build collectively. We are creating a framework that gathers multiple visions of the country from the regions and from social movements.
Until now we have been planning and creating Regional Congresses, understood as regions that have been building collective processes – by this means overcoming purely geographic logic. If conditions allow it we would also like to enable the organisation of events for different social sectors. This involves increased efforts and resources and is key to having an impact, in terms of contributions to the agenda and the construction of a social movement for peace.
In accordance with the value we place on regional processes we are taking the process forward in the following zones:
- Carribean Coast.
- Antioquia , Coffee Axis and Choco.
- Centre of the country (Cundinamarca, Sumapaz, Sabana y Bogotá).
- East Central.
- Huila, Tolima and Florencia.
- Magdalena Medio, Bajo Cauca, Santander.
- Catatumbo, Sur de Cesar and the border with Venezuela.
National Congress for Peace. Date:19 to 22 April 2013. Place: Bogotá