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Find here the latest news reports from the peace process, straight from Havana, Cuba. Permanently updated. 
Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:00

Peace in Colombia receives troubling blow, implementation at risk

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The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army and the Colombian Government developed a peace process that has lasted since 2012 and reached a Final Agreement on November last year, giving an end to a war that has lasted over 50 years.

These agreements are to be implemented with laws, public policies and programs through the institutional framework of the country. In order to carry out this task and to implement and incorporate into the legal system the most urgent, necessary and basic laws to begin the implementation, a “Fast Track” legislative procedure was created, in which laws are passed to Congress for their discussion and approval.

In order to maintain the spirit and core aspects of the Final Agreement, these laws can only be modified while passing through Congress if these changes are consistent with the agreement and are approved by the Government administration; also, these laws are to be voted as a whole by Congress. For example, regarding the Amnesty Law, Congress had to approve the law itself as a whole instead of article by article.

As of the moment, it is calculated that only about 12% of the required laws and decrees for the incorporation of the Peace Agreement to the Colombian legal system and institutional framework have been approved. The rest are still pending, and time is ticking since this special “Fast Track” legislative procedure has only a maximum duration up until October of this year in the best of cases.

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Constant delays have been permanent within Congress and this has caused for only 12% of the required laws to be passed. The electoral race for the 2018 presidential and congress elections has already started, and it seems that Congressmen are more concentrated on their own political agendas than that of the establishment of Peace in Colombia.

Added to all this uncertainty and fooling around with the country’s future, the Constitutional Court of Colombia has made a revision to the “Fast Track” legislative procedure ruling and has removed two of its most important rules that are directly associated with the assurance that these laws will maintain the spirit of the agreed:

  1. Modifications to the laws regarding peace can be done in Congress without any consultation or authorization by the government administration. This poses as an enormous risk to the spirit and core aspects of the Peace Agreement since these can be modified without any regulation and at will of the members of Congress that are don't precisely have the application of these laws as a priority.
  2. These laws cannot be voted a whole, but article by article. This also opens the door to even further modifications to the agreed upon and longer time to pass these laws, giving way to more deliberate delays by those who are not interested in successfully carrying out this process.

The result of this may well be the introduction of a series of laws far away from the spirit and core aspects of the already agreed upon between the FARC-EP and the Government.

It must be noted that Colombia is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and there are many conflicts of interests among the members of Congress who are financed by or are themselves part of economic conglomerates, multinational corporations, massive landlords, banks etc., that don’t precisely have an interest in aspects of the agreement such as a Comprehensive Rural Reform, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or the democratic opening that implies the entering into politics of the FARC-EP and also many other alternative political projects.

Diverse political sectors that are in pro of Peace have expressed their concern, the FARC-EP troops have entered into “Permanent Assembly” and citizen protests are being convened for the next days.

Why is Peace a problem?

The Peace Agreement aims to resolve and reform some basic aspects of the socio-political ordering in Colombia to once and for all abolish violence within politics and its political persecution through a democratic opening and abolishment of paramiltiarism, as well, it aims to modernize the Colombian country side in order for millions of peasants to have life and economic opportunities so that they don’t face misery situations that lead them to join or conform an armed group nor to have to grow illicit crops such as poppy, coca and marihuana in order to survive.

Also read: Brief guide to understand Peace Agreements in Colombia

Another core aspect of the agreement is for the truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition guarantees to be established for all the victims of the conflict and for all Colombians. This also generates great discomfort among various politicians, high commanders of the Armed Forces, massive landowners and companies that have also been participant of the armed conflict through the promotion and/or the financing and creation of paramilitary death squads and actions aimed at the intensification of the armed conflict through direct support to an armed group or committed, coordinated and commanded genocides and tragedies.

On its part the FARC-EP has agreed to respond to this Special Justice System for Peace, tell the truth, repair victims, and comply with the sentencing that this justice system is to establish for each case, but it is necessary for all actors, parties, and participants of the armed conflict in general to also comply with this justice system; likewise, Colombia needs to move forward in abolishing the root causes that have generated the armed conflict, the Peace Agreement is a step forward in that direction and a regressive implementation of this agreement may well result in the continuity of the spiral of violence.

"It's the moment to unite hopes and gather hearts for Peace. Difficulties have never paralyzed us"

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