By Odalys Troya Flores*, LA HABANA (PRENSA LATINA)
March 5, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Senator Iván Cepeda of the Democratic Pole Party has stated that the Peace Agreement in Colombia was a historic conquest by the people, but in evaluating its implementation, he invites us to see its lights and its shadows.
In an interview with Prensa Latina, via internet, he emphasized that the Agreement, reached in 2016 between the Juan Manuel Santos government, representing Colombia, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), “was obtained after many tasks that had to be done were accomplished with the very generous accompaniment and support by Cuba as a sponsoring country.”
“It was an unprecedented agreement, not only in Colombia but also in the world, as the international community has recognized on different occasions,” stated the Senator. Nevertheless, he said, its implementation is very difficult because there are sectors that want to live in the past, want to keep on fomenting war and conflict.
There are sectors that have lived through the war and the violence in Colombia, and have made a political and economic system out of the violence, insisted the opposition politician. Putting the Agreement into practice is threatened not just by attempts to avoid supporting it, but also because of the systematic murders of people seeking its implementation out in the conflicted territories, and the killing of the very people who signed it, laid down their arms, and joined civilian life.
He lamented that the former guerrillas are being pursued, and that even their families are being murdered.
Also a defender of human rights, the Senator pointed out that more than 250 former guerrillas have sacrificed their lives because they are complying with the peace process. “The figures are staggering. Every three days there is a massacre, especially at the places where the government ought to be implementing the Peace Agreement,” Cepeda pointed out.
Every three days a social leader is murdered, and every six days someone that once belonged to the FARC-EP is killed, he added.
“This has a systematic character and often there are mafioso political and economic sectors behind it, mafiosos that don’t want political change, don’t want agrarian reform, not even for the campesino victims to recover the land stolen from them,” he underscored to Prensa Latina.
For the philosopher, there are many interests behind these murders, and in the face of this situation, the government keeps applying the same approach to the situation, and it’s militarizing the regions and the countryside that are still at war.
That means that the violence keeps being reproduced, and it’s not possible to make the changes that are required in the Peace Agreement that was reached after almost four years of dialog and negotiation in Havana, Cuba.
A systematic failure to comply persists in the administration of Iván Duque when, at particular times and in particular forms, he promotes attacks on the process, Cepeda commented.
POINTS IN THE AGREEMENT THAT ARE LAGGING THE MOST
“There are some really serious failures to carry out the first point in the Agreement, related to integrated rural agrarian reform, which provided for restructuring tenancy in land,” he explained.
“In many locations in Colombia, the government was to deliver parcels of land to people that are poor, homeless, or whose land was stolen from them; nearly three million hectares, to legalize them, title them, and stimulate the campesino economy,” he summarized.
“None of that has been done satisfactorily, not the development programs that are implicit in the Agreement, and not the plans or programs of development focused on the territories; in every case, they are being implemented in a very fragmented manner,” he claimed.
“Another similar thing can be said about the second point in the Agreement: democratic political reform has not been carried out in its essential substance; the statute that was to reform the political system has not been sent to Congress,” added the Senator.
On the point about the change in focus for the treatment of drug trafficking, there are severe failures, because we have a very fragmented approach to the substitution of illegal crops by crops that will aid the campesino economy, he added.
“It hasn’t been accomplished, because the administration of President Iván Duque stopped allocating funds for it and, on the contrary, he’s thinking of going back to fumigating the illegal crops, which is a regression to the bad things we have experienced in the past,” he indicated.
Fumigation of those crops generates displacement of the communities in the countryside where coca is planted, said Cepeda.
On the point regarding the victims and justice and the right to truth and reparation, even though this has been carried out only partially, we can see very important advances because they created the integrated system of truth, justice, and reparation, which has been producing decisions, he pointed out.
“The Truth Commission has worked with intensity in these years and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Unit for the Search for Disappeared Persons have done the same,” he confirmed.
He recorded the advances in the process for reincorporation of the former guerrillas of the FARC-EP in the same way, even though there has not been compliance in a satisfactory manner with a series of programs that are part of the process of returning them to civilian life.
A HISTORIC AGREEMENT
For Cepeda the Agreement has yet to be accomplished to a high degree, but the implementation is not just limited to those points of accomplishment or failure to accomplish, but rather, it also has beneficial political effects.
In that sense, the peace process signified a democratic change in the country; it generated conditions so that alternative and democratic political efforts would have more space for their activities, he declared.
“It has aroused a great movement that is favorable to peace, and in spite of all of the attacks, the peace process has so far managed to raise awareness,” he emphasized. He pointed out that work is being done every day so that a larger number of political, social, and citizen forces can forge a grand alliance with a view to a historic change in Colombia, because there is a series of factors, of opportunities, that must be kept in mind.
He insisted that the country is in the midst of a crisis, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a lot of indignation in society about the way that this administration is handling the health problems.
“The alternative and progressive momentum has been increasing in these years; they have been gaining experience, governing cities, even the very capital of this country, Bogotá. There are very relevant numbers, showing that there are women and men that today are playing leading roles in the life of this country,” he said.
So there is a program that has been proposed in this country to make the changes that are needed in all of the sectors, stated the Senator.
“I have confidence that this path of convergence and programmatic definitions will open opportunities in the electoral process in 2022,” opined Cepeda, referring to the Historic Agreement that is being forged in Colombia, as different persons and political forces are being added.
“We are not just fighting to win elections, or for electing some number of people to Congress, or even electing a particular person to be President. We want a new era, a historic change in Colombia,” he concluded.
* Prensa Latina journalist for South America