El Espectador, September 30, 2019

(Translated by Eunice Gibson CSN Volunteer Translator)

CINEP (Center for Research and Popular Education) and CERAC (Conflict Analysis Resource Center) presented a detailed document that audits each one of the six points contained in the Agreement reached between the government and the former FARC guerrillas in November of 2016.

In just months it will be three years since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the government and the former FARC guerrillas. This Monday CINEP, in coordination with CERAC, presented a detailed document in which they assess their implementation. They warn of unresolved issues and challenges in the effort to attain a “stable and lasting peace”.

The first point approached by the document relates to the complete rural reform established in the Agreement. They point out that, although that demands the creation and modification of a group of laws—among those the defining of the Locally Focused Development Programs (PDET in Spanish), “the development of the laws is incomplete, and there has not been full use of the possibilities offered by either the extraordinary powers or the method of fast track legislation.”

However, both organizations highlight the creation of laws such as the procedure for access to and titling of land and the creation of the land fund (through adjudication, subsidies, and specialized credit); also the creation of the Locally Focused Development Programs and the National System for Agricultural Innovation. Nevertheless, the creation of the Multi-Purpose Land Registry System, the Adjudication of Wasteland Forestry Reform Areas, and the creation of the Agricultural Jurisdiction have yet to happen.

“The creation and launching of the legal instruments that make reform possible have, at the same time, effects on the transformation of land that ought to contribute to the development of the PDETs; and to the extent that we still don’t have the new legal mechanisms needed to resolve conflicts about the use of land, we lack the legal security of ownership for small and mid-size farmers,” states the document.

Regarding the democratization of the land, it’s evident that there is no information about progress in establishing the Land Fund, and there is no report, since the beginning of implementation, of any initiation of specific activities for assigning land parcels to campesinos. “For that reason, there has been no development of any accompanying programs for housing, technical assistance, land improvement, productive projects, or any of the other measures that will be needed for beneficiaries of the Fund,” adds the document.

Still, it highlights advances in the implementation of the Plans for Social Management of Rural Property and Productive Land Use (POSPR in Spanish) in some priority municipalities, even though it does not fail to call attention to difficulties in defining what’s been called the Rural Property Formalization Program, which embraces community participation and specific measures to overcome obstacles faced by women in access to land.

Accordingly, the document also calls attention to the prospects for implementation of access to land after the approval of the National Development Plan for 2018-2022, which, in the opinion of CINEP and CERAC, “are not the best.”

“The Plan doesn’t include any measure for free distribution of parcels to campesinos among its goals and proposals, in spite of the fact that there are such goals in the Implementation Framework Plan. So there is nothing that would permit even a glimpse of advances on that in the medium range,” they claim.

In its synthesis, the document states that we cannot expect that, in these four years, “there will be accelerated advance” in the areas of access and titling to land, “so that the structural conditions that serve to encourage violence in rural areas will persist.”

Another point touched on in the document is the creation of mechanisms for land-use regulation and conflict resolution, and it warns that this requires creation of the Agricultural Jurisdiction for a Policy of Peace with Legality. The government proposes formation of a committee in 2019 for reviewing national and international experiences to inform the decision. This limits the access to justice for the men and women of the countryside and the resolution of conflicts about land.

Additionally, the document argues for the creation of a high level instance of the judicial process to delineate outlines for planning land use, among these, the Multipurpose Land Registry, which has not yet come into effect and which the Congress has not yet even discussed.

Still, some advances are highlighted in the National Development Plan; principally related to setting up the land registration authority (headed by the Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute); creating the land registry managers in charge of advancing the work of forming, updating, conserving and disseminating the land registries and also the managers of the land registries. The Plan also covers fixing the boundaries of the agricultural frontier and carrying out a plan for environmental zoning, which is ready to be discussed by the full Senate. To all of this, the Plan adds the Areas Reserved for Campesinos (ZRC in Spanish), intended as a way to advance campesino agriculture.

For CINEP and CERAC, the success of the regulatory and conflict-resolution systems “looking at the long term, will depend in good part on the speed with which the necessary measures needed to advance this complicated objective are adopted in the short and medium term.”

Lastly, with respect to the structural transformation of the countryside in order to overcome poverty and close the urban-rural divide, added to greater integration of the territories, the Locally Focused Development Programs (PDET), which have a horizon of ten years, and the National Plans for Integrated Rural Reform (PNRRI) were developed. However, there was criticism regarding the “inclusion of a focus on ethnicity and gender.”

“The group of National Plans for Rural Reform were required to be ready in 2018. Instead, advances have been reported only in four: the National Rural Electrification Plan was formulated in May of 2017; the National Plan for construction and improvement of housing for rural people, in June of 2017; the National Road-Building Plan for Regional Integration in August of 2018; as well as the National Plan for Complete Technical, Technological, and Research Impetus,” the document notes.

Considering the second point, related to political participation and opening up democracy to work for peace, both organizations emphasize that, even though the signing of the Agreement contributed to lessening the violence associated with the armed conflict and increased the voting participation in the most recent presidential and legislative elections, “ these results are not directly attributable to a satisfactory implementation.”

They allege a deficit of institutional capacity and policies that are “poorly focused” on matters of security; disinterest and lack of political will in aspects related to guarantees for citizen participation and peaceful protest; and also political resistance by interests arising from opposition to political reform.

In particular, the document warns of a “troubling deterioration in the safety of social leaders, as well as of the former combatants,” even though it highlights advances such as the guidelines in the Opposition Statute: “One of the principal obstacles to the measures implemented so far has been a lack of connection with the focus on security, and the repudiation of what the previous administration had put forward. And second, by repudiating the completeness of the Agreement, we lose the possibility of speeding up transformational processes that the territories most powerfully affected by the armed conflict need in order to exhaust the use of violence as a political resource.”

With regard to citizen participation, the document contemplated the following:  Reviewing the quality of the spaces, instances, and channels for participation that now exist; building a strategy for mainstreaming those spaces; identifying strategies to strengthen community participation; boosting processes of social control and citizen oversight in the entire cycle of public policy; promoting a network of information and interchange of organizational experiences; and pushing for the strengthening of the Community Action Boards.

Contrary to what we hear about social protest, the two agencies indicate that the greatest advances were reported in matters related to the areas of living together and reconciliation, such as the first two community radio stations started in the municipalities of Chaparral (Tolima Province) and Ituango (Antioquia Province).

Finally, on the subject of greater transparency and greater election participation, the document states that the Special Peace Districts “are still unfinished business, which is problematic not only for the open noncompliance with what was agreed to, but also because they would be a mechanism for amplifying at a national level those voices that for decades have been denied access to the government, and they would advance improved ability to influence the decision-making process.”

In conclusion, in the case of guarantees foe citizen and social participation, CINEP and CERAC attribute “the minimal advances to be seen” to lack of interest “and not making this a legislative or political priority”.  As a result, they indicate, for the implementation of the Agreement and for the stability of the country, “the upcoming local elections in October represent a proverbial trial by fire.”

In assessing point three, which relates to the so-called end of the conflict—implying a guarantee of the conditions for that purpose, completing the early reincorporation (including children) and the implementation of measures for carrying out the guarantees of security—once again they use the National Development Plan as a reference point.

All of the foregoing goes under the umbrella of what was agreed to in exchange for the definitive and bilateral cease-fire, the laying down of arms, and the socio-economic and political reincorporation of the former members of the FARC. In this context, they highlight a report of the Special Assets Society (SAE in Spanish) that pointed out that as of December 27, 2018, it had received “USD $450,000, 255.040 grams of gold, 197 grams of platinum, 224 head of livestock, 996 pieces of furniture or equipment, nine pieces of real estate and 2,114 million pesos (roughly USD $700,000), (SAE, 2019), all of which represents 1% of what the FARC reported in August of 2017.

In the area of politics, the report does not ignore the re-arming in which former FARC commanders like Iván Márquez, Jesús Santrich, El Paisa and Romaña played a leading role. It points out that the party has insisted on their punishment and has expelled them. Still, it points out that, since July 20, 2018, the FARC Party has led its first political debate and has sponsored 17 bills in the Congress.

Reviewing the legal reincorporation, we see in the report that, during the 30 months of implementation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace has accredited 13,061 former combatants (92%) of the 14,178 included on the lists furnished by the FARC-EP in August of 2017. For its part, in an order dated May 8, the JEP has received 13,628 documents of submission. Of these, 11,773 have now been approved: 9,701 (82%) are former combatants of the FARC-EP, 2,015 are members of the Armed Forces, 45 are government officials and 12 are for social protest.

On the other hand, the report concludes that, considering the socio-economic reincorporation, the national government approved the National Council for Economic and Social Planning (CONPES) Document 3931 in 2018. It establishes a middle and long-term road map for the achievement of that objective for the former members of the FARC for a period of eight years. Added to that is the Executive’s commitment to maintain the Territorial Spaces for Skill-Building and Reincorporation (ECTR in Spanish) until August 2020, including furnishing provisions and food, along with the impulse for productive projects.

All in all, the criticism is that there has been no decided effort to acquire land for the development of productive projects for the former combatants. However, the report praised the educational opportunities in the ETCR and bordering areas “that are supported by government resources and international cooperation.”

About reincorporation of minors, it shows that 135 minors left the FARC-EP and of those, 11 are under the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF in Spanish) program of protection. “Of the remaining 124, 116 have turned 18 by now, 104 of those have received their one-time allowance for normalization, 99 are receiving a basic monthly allowance from the reincorporation program, and 83 were beneficiaries of reparations as victims,” according to the report.

In this context, the security of the former combatants was not passed over. According to the report, right now 132 cases of murder are being investigated, and in 67% of the cases, the killers have been identified. With regard to the attempted murders, the Attorney General’s Office, as of last May, was investigating 16 cases and had resolved seven. With regard to the murder of social leaders and human rights defenders, the report reads,” of the 265 murders registered from January 2016 to March of 2019, the killers have been identified in 151 cases (57%).”

The fourth point in the CINEP and CERAC report has to do with the solution to the problem of illicit drugs, starting programs for plant substitution, integrated intervention on consumption of drugs, and a solution to the phenomenon of production and commercialization of narcotics.

“The principal advances on this point have been those related to eradication (both voluntary and forced) of plants for illegal use, while implementation of other commitments such as the construction of productive projects for the long term is still not advancing,” states the report.

That line calls attention to the persistence of risks to security in the territories where there are plantings for illegal use, and also to the failure to develop laws providing differential criminal treatment for small farmers. It also warns of the minimal advances in the area of public health and prevention of the consumption of drugs.

Based on statistics from the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the report verified the effective eradication of 29,393 hectares of illegal plantings between May of 2017 and February of 2019. Nevertheless, looking at the program of assisted substitution being carried out by the Armed Forces who accompany the families involved, we see that, even though the Armed Forces have eradicated 5,927 hectares, there are areas in which the conditions of security are inadequate for the families to carry out their own eradication of the plants.

Highlighting the benefits of voluntary substitution over forced eradication, the report shows that, of the 60.016 hectares eradicated forcibly by the Armed Forces in 2018, approximately 30% (18 hectares) were re-planted, while the level of replanting was only .6% of the hectares eradicated voluntarily.

Regarding point five, which covers the agreement on victims of the conflict, the report shows that its accomplishment has been marked “by a special political, legislative and budgetary context that has permitted some advances, but has also added difficulties or slowed the dynamic of getting it going.”

Considering an assessment of legal developments for the components of truth and justice, the report grades the efforts as positive. It states that this was completed in 2019, after the President signed the Statute for the administration of the JEP (Special Jurisdiction for Peace). Nevertheless, it alerts that “the commitment to completion of political participation and complete reparation for the victims of the armed conflict has yet to be carried out. This ought to have been finished in the first year of implementation after the signing of the Agreement.”

With regard to satisfaction of the rights of the victims to truth, justice, reparation, and no repetition, the report notes that this is proceeding at a good pace. It is one of the points with the best development in the first 30 months. Along that line, it states that one of the principal objectives is “promotion of an effective education strategy, one that furnishes clarity to the public regarding the functions, strategies, methods and development of the Commission for Ascertainment of the Truth, as well as the forms of participation of society in the Commission’s work.”

On the other hand, the review of the Unit for Seeking the Whereabouts of Persons Disappeared (UBPD in Spanish) is bittersweet, because for CINEP and CERAC “their getting under way has been a little slower” because of administrative and budget difficulties, such as “differences about its extrajudicial character, differences that finally were clarified by the Constitutional Court.”

They also evaluated the efforts of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), celebrating its rapid advance in getting started, its adoption of internal procedures, and its creation of specialized work areas (gender, ethnicity, and participation). However, the report admits to difficulties because of limited human and financial resources.

“The JEP has been the entity that has received the most political, legislative, and media  attacks, with efforts to distort its nature and generate mistrust of its duties. Even so, the main objectives expected of this Jurisdiction consist in confronting these kinds of attacks and generating public confidence. This role is fundamental for the collection of information and for advancing judicial proceedings; adopting a communications strategy and effective education; as well as furnishing guarantees, protection, and security,” notes the report.

With respect to complete reparation, the report highlights six Acts of admission of collective responsibility by the FARC, and two more that are in a preparation phase; and five Acts of admission by government officials. Looking at the protection of life and personal safety of the victims and of no repetition, there are few advances, according to the report, because of the resurgence of violence in the territories and the constant attacks against social leaders and defenders of human rights.

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