EL ESPECTADOR, September 28, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The UN emphasizes steps taken in PDET and agricultural projects. Security is worrisome: 292 former guerrillas have been murdered.
Four days after the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement in Cartagena, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, released the most recent quarterly report on the implementation of the Agreement negotiated between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the now-defunct FARC guerrillas.
The document covers the period between June 26 and September 24 of 2021, and shows advances and challenges in the implementation of the Agreement.
Guterres emphasized that, although the Colombian peace process continues to be a source of inspiration for the whole world, the parties, Colombian society, and the international community must not ignore the important challenges and the risk factors that are still confronting its consolidation in the long run. Those include, primarily, the violence in several regions of the country.
Concern about the persistence of the violence.
The report emphasizes that the violence against former combatants, social leaders, and human rights defenders continues to be concentrated in the 25 municipalities that are principally located in areas that have been prioritized for implementation of the Agreement.
According to the document, during this period there were 14 murders of former FARC combatants (all of them men), which raises the total figure to 292 (including 9 women) since November of 2016.
For its part, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has received information about the murder of 43 human rights defenders in this quarter, which represents a total of 158 such murders in 2021.
There were 11 massacres that left 38 victims, and another 16 massacres are in the process of being verified.
The report also points out that the persistence of the violence has led to massive displacements and confinements, especially in the provinces of Antioquia, Bolívar, Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, and Nariño. This particularly affects indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
In that regard, the Secretary-General stressed that the different provisions in the Agreement on guarantees of security have the potential to prevent and respond to what continues to be the greatest threat to the Rule of Law, and he reiterated the importance of strengthening the integrated presence of the government to contain the violence.
In addition, he repeated his call to all of the institutions that they act on the recommendations of the early alerts that are issued by the Public Defender’s Office.
Gains in the legal system, PDET, and reincorporation.
Among the accomplishments that are advancing the Peace Agreement after five years of implementation, the Secretary General listed as “successful” the cease fire and laying down of arms by the former combatants, which has permitted their participation in democracy. (Several have run for elective office and hold Congressional seats for the Commons Party.)
Furthermore, he emphasized that the Agreement authorized sites where the communities could participate in preparing development plans and alternatives to the illegal economies. Also its focus on gender “is a pioneer among the peace processes in the world”.
Guterres also emphasized as an important highlight the creation of the 16 Special Transitory Circumscriptions for Peace. Even though that was in the Agreement, it was not undertaken at first. Those benches will permit historically excluded populations in the regions affected by the conflict to participate in the Congress.
The report emphasizes the fundamental role of the transitional justice system. The Secretary General commended the work of the Truth Commission, and underscores the significant progress of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in issuing its first two indictments (in Case 03, on “false positives”, and 01, on kidnapping). Furthermore, he also praised the work of the Unit for the Search of Disappeared Persons, which has been able to turn over remains of 123 disappeared (and killed) individuals.
“In order for the Integrated System to continue its work, I repeat my call to all Colombians to support it, respect it, and contribute their efforts, and I urge the government to provide the necessary funds,” said Guterres.
As for the process of reincorporation, the Secretary-General noted that during the third quarter of this year, the National Council on Reincorporation approved nine collective productive projects, raising the total to 99. For its part, the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN) approved 481 individual projects, reaching a total of 3,190.
For the integrated system to continue its work, I repeat my call to all Colombians to support it, respect it, and contribute their efforts, and I urge the government to provide the necessary funds.
Up to now, 7,327 former combatants have benefited from productive projects; that means 54% of the 13,608 that have been accredited.
Added to that achievement is that the government has purchased additional parcels of property for the former ETCR in La Guajira and Caquetá. All in all, the administration has acquired parcels for nine of the 24 former ETCR.
In reference to the elections that are coming up, the Secretary-General invited all of the political parties to add their efforts and support to initiatives such as the no violence pact being promoted by the Catholic Church.
Guterres emphasizes that every citizen, and the political actors, especially those with leadership roles, have the responsibility to promote their ideas and interests in a climate of mutual respect. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, will present this report to the United Nations Security Council next October 14, 2021.