By Javier Arana, EL TIEMPO, May 12, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Political leaders, former Ministers, and academics support the search for peace, but they set off alarms.

In a document issued this Wednesday by politicians, former Ministers, and well-known academics, labeled the “Manifesto for Total Peace”, the signers declare their support for “the eradication of the use of weapons as a recourse to induce social change,” and at the same time, they analyze President Gustavo Petro’s policy of “total peace”, “with the desire that it will meet with success, but also with the fear that it will not attain its objectives.”

In 12 points, they make recommendations, and they also warn of their concerns.

“This Manifesto contains our proposals for improvement. In putting them together, we keep in mind the experiences accumulated by different administrations, not only their successes, but also their failures,” read the first lines of the document.

The first point refers to public order, truces, and demilitarized zones, and states that the government is required permanently to exercise its obligation to guarantee public order.

They also ask “that there be an immediate cease fire agreement with the groups that the administration is negotiating with before there is a concentration. It’s only possible for impartial organizations to verify compliance with the commitments that were agreed to. There is nothing more counterproductive than premature demilitarized zones or those without conditions,” they emphasize at the beginning of the Manifesto.

With regard to cessation of hostilities, enumerated as the second point of the text, the signers indicate that “they must agree on a cessation of hostilities as a commitment by the groups that they will not harm the civilian population, as a sign of their clear commitment to the peace all have dreamed of.”

Peace negotiations and strengthening the government

Among the recommendations they suggest there is also a point related to the peace negotiations and the strengthening of the government.

“The preservation of institutional legitimacy implies that the processes of peace and demobilization must be seen as a concession by the government to those living outside the law. This is justified in that they are seeking more institutional solidarity and a greater presence of the government in the countryside, as well as a strengthening of democracy itself. The government does not abdicate; it must be fortified, for the benefit of all,” states the Manifesto.

In relation to the law providing for the submission of the criminal gangs, in the 9th point of the Manifesto, it indicates that “the Congress must make sure that the criminal enterprises are ended, and that there will be no possibility that those groups can come back to life.”

They also emphasize, in the final point, the importance of the role of the international community to facilitate eventual commitments. “In the current situation, they are of singular importance for Venezuela, whose territory has been invaded by armed groups originating in Colombia. Cuba, which many years ago abandoned the promotion of violent social change in the region, and is trying to be a constructive actor in the politics of the hemisphere, could furnish valuable contributions to solutions in the ongoing negotiations.”

The Total Peace Manifesto is signed by sociologist Eduardo Pizarro-León Gómez; the former Rector of the National University, Moisés Wasserman; Ph.D. in economics Francisco Thoumi; former Minister of Defense Rafael Pardo; Professor Jorge Giraldo; former Finance Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo; Ph.D. in sociology Álvaro Guzmán; journalist and former peace negotiator with the FARC Enrique Santos Calderón; former presidential counselor Armando Borrero; Attorney Andrés Caro; engineer Luz Helena Sarmiento; former Minister of Justice Gloria Borrero; former Minister of Commerce Jorge Botero; historian Jorge Orlando Melo; sociologist Alejandro Rey; Retired Army General Fredy Padilla, professor emeritus Francisco Leal; professor Gustavo Duncan; former Rector of the University of Antioquia Rafael Aubad; and former Foreign Minister Camilo Reyes.

Rafael Pardo shared the complete text of the Manifesto on his Twitter account.

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