By Rodrigo Uprimny[1], EL ESPECTADOR, November 27, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The Final Peace Agreement (AFP in Spanish) with the FARC was signed five years ago, which results in an obvious question: How should we evaluate its impact five years later? The answer is difficult, as the AFP has achieved some great successes, but its implementation has been limited, and is confronting some challenges and risks.

Very schematically, the AFP tried to do three things: first it tried to extinguish the war by the demobilization of the FARC and transforming it into a political actor, which is essential in any peace agreement. That point has largely been carried out. In spite of the dissidents, the combat with the guerrillas came to an end because the majority of the troops and their former commanders demobilized, and took up peaceful lives. That is an enormous achievement, not only because the FARC were a fearsome war machine that committed terrible atrocities, but also because in that manner, the recourse to violence in politics was delegitimized. But that great achievement is now at risk because of the nearly 300 murders of former combatants, and the resurgence of violence in the territories abandoned by the FARC. This affects social leaders especially.

Second, the AFP attempts a peace with justice for the victims through mechanisms of transitional justice like the JEP, the Truth Commission, and the Unit for the Search for Disappeared Persons. The progress on that aspect is significant, because even though there are not yet any convictions, the JEP is starting to bear fruit. Examples are the orders of this year where the JEP charges the former secretariat of the FARC for its policy of kidnapping, and charges high-ranking Colombian Army officers, including several colonels and a general, with the false positives. That represents the greatest progress in decades in prosecutions for these atrocities. However, those advances are very fragile, because of the ongoing attacks and attempts at counter-reform of certain sectors of the JEP and of the Truth Commission.

Third, the AFP also attempts transformations that would make Colombian society more fair and more democratic, through 1) Integrated Rural Reform, 2) strengthening of democratic participation, and 3) a more intelligent focus on drug trafficking, drugs, and illegal crops. However, on this aspect, the implementation of the AFP has been a disappointment. Thus, in spite of progress in the formulation of Development Programs with a Territorial Focus (PDET), rural reform is frozen. The legislature could not even pass the agricultural jurisdiction component, and the land trust fund, which aims to reduce, at least by a little, the shameful inequality in the countryside, is not funded at all. The reforms to strengthen participation have not prospered. The political reform was scuttled in the Congress years ago, and the special circumscriptions for the victims were only just now approved. Finally, the initial advances in the illegal crop substitution policy were halted by the Duque administration, which even tried to reinstitute the fumigation, which obviously doesn’t work, and on the contrary, has catastrophic social and environmental effects.  

So we have passed over the possibility of a robust and transformative peace, which is what was intended in the AFP, to a more limited peace, centered only on the demobilization of the FARC and the satisfaction of the victims’ rights, but without any progress in the transformative social and political reforms proposed in the AFP. Nevertheless, this limited peace is very important and significant, but unfortunately, as we have seen, its accomplishments are at risk.

The challenge to the democratic sectors then, is to protect the progress made in this limited peace, which is at risk, while trying at the same time to recover the transformative dimension of the AFP.

[1] Researcher at Dejusticia and Professor at the National University.

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