EL COLOMBIANO, June 4, 2024


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The former President of Colombia sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization, Antonio Guterres, to clarify the political situation that the country is experiencing.

Last weekend, former Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva said in an interview with the news magazine SEMANA, that the Peace Agreement that former President Juan Manuel Santos signed with the FARC “obliges” Colombia to reform its Constitution, throwing more fuel on the debate that began with President Gustavo Petro himself when he talked about the need to call together a Constituent Assembly.

Leyva has wanted to use some paragraphs in the Final Agreement signed between the Colombian Government and the former guerrillas of the FARC in November 2016, ending the conflict, to give a push to the idea of a Constituent Assembly. However, former President Juan Manuel Santos sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization, Antonio Guterres. His letter made clear that the Agreement cannot be used as an excuse for pushing any constitutional reform.

“The intent of this letter is to make clear that the Peace Agreement cannot be used in any manner as an excuse to convoke a Constituent Assembly. The Agreement is clear. It does not mention a Constituent Assembly, nor does it require Petro to call together a Constituent Assembly. I wanted to recount to you the manner in which the legal structure was put together, and that the Agreement does not permit proceeding against any constitutional regulation. The Agreement had to be framed within human rights treaties and within the Constitution,” insisted Juan Manuel Santos in a conversation with BluRadio.

Santos added that, in order to avoid a situation like the one that’s going on right now, he had assigned two former Presidents of the Constitutional Court to manage the juridical parts of the Peace Agreement.

“This letter also seeks to sideline the discussion we have been wasting time on for several months now. Don’t try to get the Security Council to support this initiative, because it’s not going to happen, and dedicate yourselves to implementing the peace process and solving the problems that are affecting Colombians: security and health instead of this idea about using the Peace Agreement to put together a Constituent Assembly,” added the President who headed the country between 2010 and 2018.

Juan Manuel Santos was emphatic in that, when they were at the table negotiating with the FARC in Havana, the Constituent Assembly was always a red line. In fact, he insisted that the FARC, after a discussion that was profound, had put it on the table and that he, as the Head of State, gave the order to reject it categorically.

“I don’t know why this administration is saying that there’s an obligation to call a Constituent Assembly,” commented Santos, who also explained that United Nations resolutions could not supersede the Constitution. He said that after Leyva had said that the Unilateral Declaration of the Government, which the former President had signed, supported a decision to call together a Constituent Assembly.

“Nothing could be more contrary to the Constitution. United Nations resolutions could not do that. A unilateral Declaration could not modify a country’s constitution. Nobody thinks a President of the United States or France could extend a president’s term to six years by issuing a unilateral Declaration of the Government and modifying the constitution overnight,” he stated.

Besides that, he added that next month, in July, when Petro appears before the Security Council, with Russia presiding, to denounce as Head of State that the Peace Agreement is not being implemented in Colombia (something that is his obligation), he will receive a diplomatic response from the member countries, and they will tell him that they can’t insert themselves into a country’s internal political problem, and they will exhort him to dedicate himself to implementing what was agreed upon in Cuba.

“This is strictly Colombia’s matter, an internal political issue for Colombia. It’s a mistake for you to come here looking for United Nations support. You’ve always been told: implement the Peace Agreement. Dedicate yourself to implementing the Peace Agreement, because that is an obligation. It’s been mentioned frequently that unilateral Declarations by a Head of State must be complied with and that is, specifically, the commitment to what has been agreed,” concluded Santos.

The former President also suggested that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, JEP, may not deviate from its original principle, which is taking the cases of the demobilized combatants of the FARC, and for the same reason, they should not take on cases about other agreements such as those for “Total Peace” that the Petro administration is trying to achieve with the armed groups in the country.

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