Colombia: the (Endless) Peace Process

The 27th of May 1964 is the date in which the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (in Spanish, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) were born as an anti-imperialist guerilla, aimed by a Marxist-Leninist thought. However, in over fifty years of conflict, the FARC have greatly weakened the Colombian agricultural sector, often expropriating farmers (in Spanish, campesinos) from their lands. Farmers have paid one of the highest prices of the conflict that, since November 2016, seems to have come to a turning point.

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Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) | Photo: InSightCrime.org

According to the Guardian, last summer, about a 40% of the FARC’s arsenal has been decommissioned in front of the United Nations officials in the municipality of Buenos Aires. The reason why the event happened at that specific location is symbolic: in fact, two years before, 11 government exponents have been killed there. The decommissioning of the arsenal had a strong impact on the reaction capacity of the FARC that, according to Forbes, in 2014, had an income of around 600 million USD.

The decommissioning has been possible because, in June 2017, the FARC formally ended their existence as an armed group. After 53 years of conflict, more than 260,000 dead, and 7 million of displaced people, the FARC are leading a process to constitute into a political party. The so-called Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (in Spanish, Fuerzas Alternativas Revolucionarias de los Comunes – FARC) intends to run for the elections of 2018. The choose of the name is not casual: in fact, it allows the former guerrilla to maintain the same acronym as before.

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The decommissioning of the FARC’s arsenal | Photo: bbc.com

Early this month, the government has also negotiated a (temporary) ceasefire with the other armed group, or rather, the National Liberation Army (in Spanish, Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN). The real problem is today represented by the invigoration of paramilitary groups that are – in some ways, taking the scene of the FARC. Former FARC’s members are becoming targets – and consequently victims, of the paramilitary groups. Since the peace agreement that has been negotiated in November 2016, 9 militiamen, 5 former FARC’s members, and 11 of their relatives have been killed. It is for this reason that the FARC’s leaders are asking the Colombian government to protect them while facilitating the reintegration of former combatants into the social context.

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Peace negotiations in La Habana, Cuba | Photo: TeleSUR

As mentioned earlier, farmers are some of the civilians that have more suffered from the long-lasting conflict. Even after almost a year since the negotiations of November 2016, on October 5th, in the municipality of Tumaco, a group of farmers has been killed. According to the CNN, The Colombian Defence Ministry is investing the attack, hypothesizing that the victims are four people and that the armed group Gaucho could be responsible for the murders. The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that in Tumaco have lost their lives six people and additional nineteen ones has been injured. According to the Asociación de Juntas Comunitarias Mira, Nulpe y Mataje (ASOMINUMA) nine people have been killed and eighteen remained injured.

Together with farmers, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous people that were living in the Amazonian area and the Pacific coastline, are now coming back to these areas after the FARC have left them. However, right-wing groups are infiltrating in these areas, preventing indigenous peoples from re-establishing their lives in these lands. Several attacks have occurred in both regions, and many farmers have lost their lives while defending their lands.

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People asking for peace and stabilization in Colombia | Photo: Daily Mail News

The Colombian Government and Presidency are determined in giving to the peace negotiations a continuation, by assuring a climate of peace through the country. However, new challenges are needed to be addressed and the next few months will be crucial for providing Colombia with a stability that is missing from over fifty years.

Sara Belligoni

 

 

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