EL ESPECTADOR, August 7, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

In spite of the difficulties in implementation, the Peace Agreement continues to show its benefits. It ought to be an urgent priority.

The last year of the Iván Duque administration has arrived, after a week that has been moved by a subject that is essential for the country: the Peace Agreement of Havana. The Comptroller’s Office sounded the alarm about the very bad rate of implementation of what was agreed; the national government announced its 2022 budget, with cuts at some key points; the Unit for the Search for Persons Believed to have Disappeared (UBPD in Spanish) continued to give reasons for hope, and the Truth Commission, on the threshold of a decision by the Constitutional Court on its possible extension, was the place where Salvatore Mancuso gave horrifying testimony about how the paramilitaries acted in connivance with the Colombian government. All these roads lead to the same conclusion: we have to keep opting for peace.

The Truth Commission must be extended. That’s what has been requested of the Constitutional Court by several victims’ organizations, and the high court ought to grant their request, as well as making the decision promptly, given its obvious urgency. Even though the Justices have already studied the Commission’s tenure of three years, which will expire in November of this year, that analysis was made without considering an undeniable force majeure: the pandemic. The Commission has been forced to operate with its hands tied for a year and a half, without being able to travel around the country as required by its mission, and with the threat of having to issue a report when we had not yet overcome the crisis. The victims have said that the feel that the process has not been what they had hoped for, because of these conditions. That is a sufficient argument to recognize that its mandate should not expire in November.

Another reason is that the Truth Commission has turned into an essential arena for this country. After the important confrontation between Íngrid Betancourt with her abusers, this week we saw Salvatore Mancuso provide detailed information about how the paramilitary networks operated. Yes, we already knew a lot of that, but the public nature of the event gave it a symbolic power that cannot be ignored. The country needs to continue experiencing such moments.

The contrast is found in the news about the implementation. The Comptroller’s Office said that if we continue carrying out what we agreed to at the current rate, we won’t finish until 2047. With regard to funding, in 2017, only 5.36 trillion pesos, when 9.09 trillion pesos had been budgeted; in 2018, 4.21 trillion pesos (roughly USD were spent, out of 8.62 trillion pesos (roughly USD $2,200,000,000) available; in 2019, 6.31 trillion pesos were spent, when 8.55 trillion pesos had been allocated; and last year, 6.53 trillion pesos were spent, while the sum of 8.38 trillion pesos had been budgeted. This goes along with the announcement of the administration’s new budget for 2022, where amounts of money went up for some agencies like the National Center for Historical Memory and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, but the amounts went down for the National Land Agency and the Agency for Rural Development.

What’s discouraging about those numbers is that the Peace Agreement shines when it is left to attain its potential. This week, the UBPD (Unit for the Search for Disappeared Persons) related how it helped reunite a family that had been searching for 20 years after it had been separated by the conflict. With this one, there are now four cases where individuals considered to have disappeared have been found to be alive. That means there are reasons for, and tangible support for the reconciliation of this country. That’s why we have to continue opting for peace. Now, beginning the last year of the Iván Duque administration, that has to be the urgent priority. For the good of all Colombia!

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