By Juan Esteban Silva, W Radio, August 30, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
W Radio spoke with Beth van Schaack, United States Ambassador for International Criminal Justice, about peace in Colombia. Here is her statement.
In a response to W Radio this Tuesday, August 29,the United States governmentapplauded efforts by President Gustavo Petro to dialog with all of the armed organizations in order to achieve an “integrated agreement” to guarantee peace. The statement was made by Beth van Schaack, United States Ambassador for International Criminal Justice.
Before speaking with W Radio, the high official said, “I just want to emphasize some examples from around the world where the Biden-Harris administration is committed to seeking justice. In Colombia, an Integrated Peace Agreement in 2016 ended a half century of conflict marked by disappearances, forced displacement, and other atrocities and abuses. The Final Agreement has given a voice to the victims and survivors, allowing them to seek truth, justice, and reparations.”
Furthermore, she said that, “Colombia is now a model for societies all over the world that are seeking ways of creating an integrated transitional justice program which has sequenced and superimposed different systems, but has also implemented a sensitive focus on gender that has allowed the voices of women and girls in all of their diversity to be heard, and that those responsible for the sexual violence can be called to account.”
And later on, she pointed out that it was in October of 2022 that Secretary Blinken announced that the United States would be the first nation to accompany the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Agreement.
“That recognizes the longtime support by the United States of the inclusion of marginalized racial and ethnic communities in the processes of building the peace in Colombia. And in May of that year, we were able to announce that, to deal with the legacy of the past, three former military officers would be cited, in conformity with Section 7031(c), for their serious violations of human rights, but also for their efforts to undermine the processes of transitional justice being carried out in Colombia. I felt very honored to be in Bogotá and be able to make that announcement at the facilities of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.”
At the end of her statement, W Radio asked her what the United States thinks about the possibility of negotiations with the ELN.
The Ambassador responded, “It’s extremely important to continue working for peace in Colombia. As you mentioned, there was an Integrated Peace Agreement with the FARC in 2016, but certain remnants of the FARC stayed behind, and there was the ELN, which didn’t participate in the Peace Agreement. And as you mentioned, President Petro is working hard to try to incorporate those groups. He’s trying to create a more peaceful, democratic, and inclusive society for all Colombians in the future.”
And she concluded, “As we applaud these efforts toward building peace, we hope you can reach some kind of integrated agreement with these other organizations to bring peace to every Colombian, not just in Bogotá itself, but also in some of the remote regions that are still being affected by the violence that’s going on now, given that those groups are still active.”