On Thursday, August 29th, the Colombian people woke up to distressing news. Three years after the signing of the historic Peace Accords between the leftist guerrilla group, the FARC and the Colombian government, a group of former FARC commanders surrounded by heavily armed fighters, announced they are taking up arms again against the Colombian government. In his speech, Ivan Marquez pointed to the government’s failures to fully implement the 2016 agreement, as well as the political assassination of more than 702 social leaders and 135 former FARC guerrillas as the principal motives for their defection from the peace agreement.
This defection comes as the Duque administration has shown a lack of political will to implement core aspects of the agreement and take effective measures to deal with the troubling rise in violence against human rights defenders and social activists. While the Duque administration’s failures have done little to raise confidence in its intentions to fulfill promises made, we must acknowledge the role of the U.S government in obstructing the Colombian peace process by meddling in Colombia’s internal affairs. Kevin Whitaker, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Colombia, has pushed for a return to aerial glyphosate fumigations (which amounts to chemical warfare against the rural population), pressured Colombian lawmakers to pass through legislation that would limit the powers of the Special War Crime Tribunal, and has threatened to extradite FARC party leaders in congress. The U.S government is sending a troubling message regarding its true commitment to peace in Colombia.
We must not overlook the accomplishments gained so far. We celebrate the achievements reached through the agreement, such as the demobilization of 13,000 FARC combatants, the establishment of a process for transitional justice, including the creation of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and a Truth Commission tasked with uncovering the root causes of the armed conflict. We must continue to support the efforts of community members that are at the forefront of peacebuilding efforts.
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective echoes the voices of our Colombian partners as they reaffirm their commitment to peaceful resistance in the face of violence, inequality, and systemic oppression. We support various peace proposals collectively constructed by these communities and social organizations. We join them demanding the full implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords and call on the U.S government to demand that the Colombian state implement policies that offer holistic and effective protection of human rights defenders. This protection should consider the causes of acts of aggression and should be designed in consensus with human rights defenders, reflecting collective measures with a differential focus, rural context. Finally, we demand support of peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN).