Editorial, El Espectador, April 25, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

All of the candidates for President have said they support the Peace Agreement. This is an historic opportunity not to be wasted.

The Peace Agreement has not been a focus for discussion during the election campaign, and that is big news. After four years of profound ambivalence by the Iván Duque administration, which has complied half-heartedly, and with stalling that is affecting the security of all Colombians. So it seems there is consensus among the Presidential candidates about the importance of supporting what was agreed to, and speeding up the implementation of the deferred promises. That’s the way it should be. The peace is the national wager that, with the right impetus from the President’s Office and the Congress, can generate basic consensus that will help us to unite in a moment of high tension for our country.

Speaking with EL ESPECTADOR’S Colombia+20, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chief of the Verification Mission of the United Nations Organization, made a worrisome and encouraging diagnosis. The anxiety is because we are still far from carrying out the essential promises of what was agreed, and that is to be seen in the violence that continues in the country. The hope is because the whole world, from the Security Council to the international community, is ready to keep wagering on the implementation of what was agreed. For that reason, Colombia must stop wasting time and convert the Peace Agreement into the center of all of the government’s activities.

The good news is that our country and its need to carry out the Agreement is being over-diagnosed. We know that we have been failing and we know how to solve that. That’s why Massieu says that “it’s necessary that (the Presidential candidates) commit to the integrated rural reform, political reform, the program for crop substitution, and the integrated presence of the government to guarantee security in the countryside.” We agree. Not only because it’s necessary to keep the word we gave, but also because we have seen how the violence increases in places where the government has not been able to have a definite presence.

The head of the UN Verification Mission sees the Putumayo case as exemplary, because it “represents, in a tragic example, everything that’s waiting to be done to carry out the Peace Agreement: the challenge of bringing the complete government presence to the territory, the need to keep increasing the social programs and civil governance, to continue attacking the causes of the conflict. And it’s not just Putumayo; it represents other areas of the country where armed groups are present, with illicit economies, and parts of the Agreement that still have not been set up, like the PNIS”.

So, wherever you look, wagering on the peace, on carrying out what was agreed, supporting transitional justice, and continuing to open paths for negotiation with the ones that are still armed and in the illegality; that is a good strategy. After the elections four years ago were almost a new plebiscite on the Peace Agreement, it’s refreshing that the candidates with the most options are seeing the importance of what was agreed and have committed themselves. The challenge will be, no matter who wins, that implementation not be put aside.

We are left with the hope that Massieu proposes, as “Colombia has achieved things that were unthinkable in other peace processes, like having an ex-guerrilla who admits, after just a few years, having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. That is unprecedented.” Let’s not fail to take advantage of the opportunity to build a consensus for peace.

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