Four years after Colombia’s peace agreement

News - 2020-12-07
The signing of the 2016 peace agreement, between the Colombian government and the FARC guerilla, drew a formal end to one of the world’s longest internal conflicts. What happened next?

ForumCiv has had a long engagement with the peace process of Colombia. We speak to Carlos Cardenas, Communication and Advocacy Officer at ForumCiv in Bogota, to find out more about the situation four years after the historic agreement was signed.

One would perhaps believe that the issue of peace wouldn’t be controversial to people in war. But the referendum that was held right after the negotiations were finalized split the country in two, where half voted in favour of the agreement and half voted against.

Carlos explains how a misinformation campaign made people believe that political power would be placed in the hands of the guerilla. Something that proved itself wrong as the implementation of the agreement went ahead. The outcome of the voting result further revealed vast differences between the urban and rural population, or between distance and closeness to the armed conflict zones.

In the areas where the conflict was held, and majority being victims to the conflict, more than 90 per cent voted in favor of the agreement. 

One of the weaknesses of the transitional period, in Carlos’ opinion, was the absence of a reconciliation process for the society at large, not just between the armed groups. The country was never prepared to try and understand the actors in the conflict, even less so to reconcile with them.

The agreement consists of three components; truth, justice and repair. A crucial ingredient when trying to build understanding revolves around getting to know what actually happened, to get to know the truth.

Who were involved beyond the armed actors in the FARC guerilla? The paramilitaries in the Colombian army, duty bearers from the government and companies are also responsible for human rights abuses. 

The truth commission is also investigating disappeared people and has been able to reveal gravesites. A special justice system was created in order to hear witness statements from especially paramilitary, but that work has not yet started.  

"As ForumCiv we hope that this opportunity for peace is not wasted. There is still enough time and space to bring forces together in order to carry out the reconciliation process, to bring out the truth and understand what happened in Colombia. To bring a culture of reconciliation, where pardon or at least comprehension of what happened and why it happened can bring a new society where we can live together despite differences, despite different ideologies and different ways of understanding the world", says Carlos.

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