Colombia: peace process model for world

In his final address to the UN General Assembly as president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos delivered a message of peace, highlighting the agreement reached between his government and the FARC guerillas, and describing it as a model for the rest of the world. "If we were able to put an end to an armed conflict in Colombia that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions of victims and displaced persons, there is hope for other ongoing conflicts in the world," Santos stated. (UN News Centre, Sept. 19)

Santos also had words clearly directed at the United States, and its role in Colombia's narco economy. "It is time to accept—with realism—that as long as there is consumption there will be supply… Those who say that this is a problem only of producing countries are wrong."  (El Tiempo, Sept. 19)

Days earlier, US President Donald Trump threatened to decertify Colombia as a partner in the war against drugs unless the South American nation reverses a recent surge in coca production. But sub-secretary of state for counter-narcotics efforts, William Brownfield, quickly lowered the tone, saying that Santos had a "good plan" for coca eradication that has been meeting results over the past six months. (El Tiempo, Sept. 19; AP, Sept. 14)

In Colombia, numerous controveries continue to emerge around the peace process. The FARC faced fierce criticism when it announced that its newly-formed political party will celebrate the life of former guerilla commander "Mono Jojoy," who is held responsible for numerous rights abuses. The former rebel army's new political party, the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the People, posted promo material on social media inviting citizens to attend the "homage to the defender of humble people," Mono Jojoy, AKA "Jorge Briceño," whose real name was Victor Julio Suarez. Mono Jojoy was the FARC's second in command when Colombia’s military killed him in a September 2010 operation in Meta department. (Colombia Reports, Sept. 20)

The Ethnic Commission,  established to promote the interests of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the peace process, meanwhile charged: "The government has been negligent in the inclusion of the ethnic dimension in implementation of the accords." Afro-Colombian leader Charo Mina faulted the government's Commission on Monitoring, Implementation and Verification of the Final Accords (CSIVI) for failing to seek the participation of ethnic minorities. (Contagio Radio, Sept. 20)

The underlying structural roots of Colombia's endemic bloodshed will be a challenge to address. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) finds that Colombia has 15 million people living in extreme poverty, with 0.4% of the population controlling 40% of the land. It remains one of the most unequal countries in the Latin American region, with 42% of households facing food insecurity, and 13% of minors facing chronic malnutrition. (Contagio Radio, Sept. 19)