Interchurch Commission on Peace and Justice, September 21, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Lessons from the Apprentice is a report on the state of human rights in the third year of the Duque administration, “Lessons from the Apprentice: Authoritarianism and Inequality”. It was prepared by three platforms, which include more than 500 social organizations.

* The apprentice flunks human rights.

In September of 2019 and in the same month in 2020, at the end of the first two years of the term of Iván Duque Márquez, the national human rights platforms prepared enormous reports assessing the government’s performance in the area of peace and human rights in this country.

Now they continue the exercise with the third report, put together from multiple voices, not only from social organizations, but also from academics.

The analyses are focused around four main areas, which serve as names for each chapter:

Peace, the humanitarian crisis, and the situation of human rights defenders

Weakening of democracy

Impoverishment and inequality

Colombia, the world, and its relationship

  1. Peace, the humanitarian crisis, and the situation of human rights defenders

The three years of the Iván Duque Márquez administration have shown a continual increase in violence in many parts of the country. The reasons for that are that Duque has intentionally failed to implement the Peace Agreement signed in 2016[1] and he has reinterpreted it unilaterally. In addition, he has defunded the institutions created by the Agreement and has placed obstacles to a negotiated exit from the conflict by the National Liberation Army (ELN).

In this scenario, the illegal armed actors have reorganized throughout the length and breadth of Colombia, and the escalation of the conflict has meant intensification of the human rights violations and of the humanitarian crisis in many regions.

In particular, the third year of Duque’s administration has revealed the tragedy of reducing the Peace Agreement to the accomplishment of a few of its commitments. The reports following up on the implementation, presented by agencies officially designated for that, all agree in showing that the greatest gaps are found in point 1. (Integrated Rural Reform) and Point 2. (Political Participation). The agricultural jurisdiction continues to be a debt owed by the government, because during the 2020-2021 session of the Colombian Congress, the bill that would have created the agricultural jurisdiction was defeated, and another bill was passed that precluded the jurisdiction’s creation. Those were the two bills discussed in this area.

The Programs for Development with a Territorial Focus (PDET), even with advances in agency design, don’t respond to the original spirit of the Peace Agreement. That situation has encouraged the distortion of the focus on Integrated Rural Reform, the disregard for the ethnic diversity and multicultural focus, the exclusion of strategic issues for the democratization of access to the land, and the absence of a solution to the inequality between the urban and the rural.

With regard to political participation, the situation of the Special Transitory Circumscriptions for Peace (CTEP) has to be highlighted. After multiple gambits and legislative stalling, on August 3, 2021, the national government signed and issued the piece of legislation that creates the CTEP, a measure of political reparation, symbolic, and historic, with the communities most affected by the armed conflict.

Even though the signing and issuance of the piece of legislation is progress, its implementation depends in large part on the willingness of the administration to issue regulations now by means of a statute.

In the area of the focus on gender, the implementation of some measures was begun in 2020, but they have not reported progress; besides, the rate of execution that was shown in 2018-2019 was reduced, and all we saw there was partial implementation or occasional steps forward.

The results with respect to access to land and rural land use show that, in March of 2021, since the commencement of the programs, there had been registered only three women who had access to the Special Line of Credit for buying land; 825 women and one LGBTI person had received hectares through the Land Fund, and 452 women had benefited from the integrated land subsidy.

In another aspect, part of the strategy to “tear the Agreement to shreds” is to defund or underfund its implementation. The fourth report from the Office of the Comptroller General on the spending of the budgeted funds and accomplishment of the goals of the component of the peace called the Multi-year Investment Plan points out that there is a worrisome warning because of the rate of spending of the budgeted funds (on average, 5.6 billones) (roughly USD $1,458,875,040) annually. Working at this rate, it would take 26 years to achieve what has been planned in the medium-term budget.

At the same time, the administration is hogging the funds for international cooperation and avoiding carrying out the tasks for achieving transparency in budget execution. The commitment of the International Community (CI) remains for the accompaniment and verification, but the CI stresses, at the same time, the minimal disposition of the administration to be accountable.

[1] In November of 2016, the Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace was signed in Colombia. It was called the Peace Agreement here. The signers were the guerrilla organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Army of the People (FARC-EP) and the Colombian government, headed by then-President Juan Manuel Santos.

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