Economic Cooperation Within the Framework of the Peace Process in Colombia

(Translated by Gerry Millrine, a CSN volunteer translator)
Wednesday 29 October 2014

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As a member of the German Parliament, I believe that economic cooperation within the framework of the strengthening of the structures of the campesino (peasant) economy, should take into account the concrete proposals of those “base” organizations which have been, for some years, and throughout the period of the conflict, have been defining more clearly who they are.

Hike Hänsel, Spokesperson for Economic Cooperation and Development In Parliament
German/Forum DIE LINKE

The proposals refer to the ecosystem, rural education programmes, to food systems which are interconnected with alternative developments and which contain the focus on equality as a matter of course. In Colombia, these ideas and proposals , have been made clear in the movement against the implementation of the Free Trade Treaty between European Union and Columbia/ Peru and find their clearest expression I the National Agricultural Summit.

An agreement to find a means of achieving Peace in Colombia will only begin to be successful when other armed elements such as ELN and a reduced group of EPL are included.

Moreover, it will also be necessary for those political-military and economic authorities, which hitherto have promoted and consolidated the aggressive development of the economy in the areas of industry, agriculture, mining and energy, come to realise that there is an alternative means of competing for political and economic power in the 21st century.

In Colombia, the agenda is still one of fighting for land, recognition of property rights over ancestral lands and working against the displacing of indigenous, Afro-Columbian and small peasant farmers. A peace accord will only work and bring fruit, if the Colombian government actively guarantees that, more six million hectares of land, violently expropriated, be returned to their owners, that the lives of those who fight for Human Fights be protected and that members of the the so-called Criminal Bands( Bandas Criminales( Bacrim)), responsible for the threats of 22 October, be pursued and subjected to the due process of law.

The European Commission has approved, for the period of 2014-2017, the sum of 67 million euros, for the development projects for the local economy and support for institutional support among other aspects, and should include support for proposals submitted to the Truth Commission, such as that made real by Communities Creating Peace in the CONPAZ Territories.

In CONPAZ, more than 110 communities- comprising, peasant (campesino), those of African descent and indigenous peoples- have grouped together, concerning the proposed approaches, in which the fulfilling of the postulates of the International Human Rights (DIH) is an irrefutable sine qua non, to being able to sit and speak of Justice, Truth, Reparation and not be merely a case of simply repetition of what has gone before.

I believe that the,” Framework Agreement for the participation of the Colombian military forces in the management of the European Union crisis”, signed in August 5 of this current year, by Juan Carlos Pinzón, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Colombia, and María Antonia van Gool, European Union ambassador in Columbia, is not, in fact an adequate means of strengthening a possible future peace agreement.

It is incomprehensible, that Colombia should seek finance for the Post –conflict period, the building up of Peace and the strengthening of the democratic structures, when at the same time, it continues to maintain a standing army of 500,000 soldiers with its elevated corresponding annual budget.

In the context of the search for peace in Colombia, I hold the opinion, that the signing in Brussels on the June 26 of this year, of an agreement of cooperation between the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO/OTAN) creates a lack of trust among the states of the region and will give incentive the spiral of the arms race and the destabilising of relations among the various forces on the South American continent.
The European Union would do better to strengthen the presence of civilian organisations, dedicated to peace, through projects within the framework of a possible post -conflict future.

It is also necessary to emphasise, that in the course of my many visits to Colombia, I have been able to personally experience the difference in the quality and standard of living between the countryside and the great great urban centres. This state of affairs is brought about by the absence of civil, state powers or authorities in the countryside and the lack of development plans, which, in a realistic way, take into account the cultural, social and economic diversity of the rural areas of Colombia. At the same time, I have been able to sense the potential of the proposals for Vida y Paz (Life and Peace) advocated by those communities, which comprise CONPAZ.

Finally, I should wish to voice my concern for the processing, in the Congress of the Republic of Colombia, of the Military Penal Code, in particular Article 98 of the Project- Law, leaves open the window for Crimes against Humanity, such as genocide, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, torture, and the forced displacement, to be within the remit of military justice, in the case of, for example, extrajudicial killing and sexual violence, given that the latter are not defined in the Civil Penal Code and that those who are accused of false testimony and sexual violence, may have recourse to military justice.
Heine Hänsel, Spokesperson for Economic Cooperation and Development in Parliament of the German/DIE LINKE Group

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