Colombia: Peace breaks out and the road to reconciliation begins

Report: Written by Javier Ramirez.

After six years of FARC and Government negotiations, a lost referendum with a margin of votes against the peace agreement, and after many civil demonstrations in cities across Colombia fighting for a ceasefire, the peace agreement is finally becoming a reality and a post conflict-era is emerging.

The last few weeks of November were extremely busy for many Colombians as the Government worked cooperatively with organisations to explain the peace agreement to different regions across the country – before the public went to the polls. However, time was not on their side, and some could argue they failed to successfully deliver the agreement – not only to the victims of the armed conflict, but also to the opposition.

As a result of a limited time frame, the opposition took advantage of the lack of knowledge on the agreement, and established a strategy to campaign against the process that had started 6 years ago. Moreover, October 2nd was a remarkable day in history; when the peace agreement was rejected with a tight margin of votes and 62.59% of the electorate not participating.

Nonetheless, the week following the plebiscite, people went out to manifest their nonconformity – marching against the result and demanding a faster solution to keep the peace process on the right path. Pressure mounted on President Santos, and with great surprise he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize – providing the citizens of Colombia with a newfound hope.

Santos modified the majority of points within the peace agreement, and released a new agreement in an attempt to cooperate with the opposition. Congress endorsed the new agreement, and the Constitutional court, the last juridical establishment to bless the agreement, decided to speed up the process. Instead of eight congressional sessions, the congress had only 4 sessions to deliberate the agreement, and 6 months to fully implement it.

Amnesty for Marxist guerrillas is an important subject, which will need to be deliberated, in order to protect the disarmed rebels and allow the FARC to attend the meeting points accorded by the Government and UN in 27 zones within the country. Therefore the congress has to deliberate about the implementation of the special jurisdiction of justice and political participation to some FARC members. However, the Government and the rebels are concerned of the guerrilla dissent and para-militarism.

Thus, with many things to sort it out within the country, the conflict has reached an end, the Government and civil society need to be conscious that the transition of FARC members into politics and normal life will take years, therefore forgiveness and tolerance will be the tool to accept the new process in Colombia, an era of post conflict.

Javier is an international political scientist and Colombian diplomat, who previously studied at the University of Greenwich. He is currently a member of Surrounded the Dialogues (rodeemos el dialogo). He has facilitated and moderated the Colombia International Victims Forum. Javier has been a panellist in topics related with the culture of dialogue and the Colombian peace process. He has worked in many political campaigns in Colombia and was formerly a columnist for the Spanish political website “Plataforma“.

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