“Colombia’s government is using the coronavirus to weaken the historic peace agreement”

Dear CSN members and friends:

According to Colombian political analyst Laura Gil in a recent column for the Washington Post (5/26/20) “It’s no secret that Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, and his ruling party have never been fond of the peace agreement signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in 2016.” She notes that the agreement has come under “enormous pressure” due to the Duque administration’s efforts to alter, undermine, or simply fail to fund and enact major provisions of that agreement.

Attempts have been made to exclude the demobilized FARC from political representation; extrajudicial killings of community activists have met with impunity; having failed to sufficiently fund the crop substitution program (to replace coca farming with other life-supporting crops) the government plans to reinstitute toxic aerial glyphosate spraying with only a pretense of the required community consultation.

The current coronavirus emergency, she observes, has offered opportunities for the government and the Democratic Center to “pursue old and new ways to attack peace” and avoid implementation of the provisions required for structural transformation of the countryside, even diverting funds intended to support the agreement to other purposes, including some related to President Duque’s political campaign.

The stakes are high: “The peace talks were not designed simply to demobilize the FARC but to provide an opportunity to do what the privileged classes had postponed, from the modernization of the countryside and the democratization of property rights, to investment in the most conflict-ridden regions and the opening up of the political system.” Her hopes that the promised peace dividends of the negotiation might yet be salvaged lie in a  “legal framework that has resisted attacks, institutions that have stood up against intimidation and a citizenry mobilized to defend the agreement.”

We at CSN believe with Laura Gil that the Agreement’s implementation is vital to establishing a lasting peace with social justice in Colombia. It is important to recognize the roadblocks the Duque Administration is placing in the way of implementing peace with justice and to understand how failure to implement the Agreement has contributed to the murders of hundreds of local community leaders and former FARC guerillas who surrendered their arms to enter civilian society. We agree with her conclusion: “The disease of coronavirus should not be used to strengthen the disease of war, which has been the most brutal plague afflicting our country.”

With best wishes,

Jack Laun


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