La Via Campesina defends the Peace Agreement in Colombia

Third Anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement in Colombia – La Via Campesina Press Release

(Harare: November 22, 2019) On November 24, 2019, the Colombian people and the entire world saw with hope the signing of the Final Agreement for the End of the conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the Colombian State. This fact constitutes a historic opportunity to building peace in a country that for more than 50 years has suffered the wrath of violence materialized in multiple economic, political and social dimensions, in addition to seriously weakening the country’s social structures.

Three years into the process of building peace, La Via Campesina – organization that brings together millions of peasants in the world and was designated by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP as an international accompanying partner in the implementation process of the agreements – observes with deep concern the meagre progress in the materialization of the commitments for the termination of the conflict and, worse still, what seems to be a misrepresentation of the spirit of what was agreed in Havana.

This situation is evidenced by the lack of significant advances in the implementation of the agreement which, as of February 28, 2019, had only about 23% of its aspects implemented fully[1]. It should be noted that the legislative procedures necessary to continue with the implementation have not been made and 57% of the required regulations are still pending processing in Congress. Some examples are the Law for the Creation of the Multipurpose Cadastral System, the law on Differentiated Criminal Treatment for small farmers linked to crops used for illicit purposed and the Land Adaptation Law, whose bills for discussion in Congress are on file, although they constitute priority implementation laws for the development of the first point of the Agreement referring to Integral Rural Reform.

We are concerned with the fact that not even the first hectare of land has been distributed through the Land Fund[2]. According to the National Development Plan of the current Government, progress in the point of Access to Land will be registered in accordance with the titles formalized and not in relation to the hectares to be distributed – an approach that distorts what is established in the Framework Plan for the implementation of the Agreement. During the first year of Ivan Duque´s government, a total of 73,465 hectares of small- and medium-sized holdings have been formalized. This represents only 8.7% of the formalization that should be achieved annually to meet the goal established in the Agreement (to provide and formalize 10 million hectares through the Land Fund). Furthermore, the mentioned goal is based on a total term of 12 years, contrary to what is established in the agreement which is 10 years for formalization[3].

The situation of crops used for illicit purposes is equally disappointing. To address this issue, the Peace Agreement prioritizes voluntary eradication, through consultation between the State and the communities. However, the current Government has put forward the use of coercive strategies to eradicate illicit crops, using aerial spraying with glyphosate according to the terms recently established by the Constitutional Court. The approach Duque´s government has adopted results in the stigmatization, repression and prosecution of small farmers and ignores the social and economic nature of this problem.

We note with concern that by prioritizing forced eradication,  the current Government approach does not consider the implementation of the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS) and the Integral Rural Reform (RRI), a situation that not only violates the spirit of the Final Agreement, whose central axis is voluntary and concerted substitution, but also aggravates the vulnerability of smallholder farmers linked to illicit crops, who are deprived of food and technical assistance to undertake productive alternatives. Only 0.7% of the families that are complying with the substitution agreements are linked to productive projects[4], a situation that affects the medium- and long-term sustainability of the PNIS because small farmers might be forced to return again to crops used for illicit purposes in the absence of productive alternatives.

It is necessary to refer to the alarming modifications that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) has suffered. One of the modifications is the Constitutional Court verdict whereby the third party’s obligation to go to the JEP is eliminated. This decision affects the process of knowing the truth, which is the core of transitional justice, violating the right of Colombian society to know what really happened in the context of the armed conflict. In this way, the possibility of knowing about the participation in financing and supporting paramilitary groups and other structures involved in the war by multinational companies, nationals linked to banking, cattle latifundios, agribusiness, public officials and other civilians, is limited to the will of the third parties involved.

We want to call attention to the danger that represents the creation of a differentiated procedure for the military within the organic structure of the JEP. The draft legislative act, promoted by the Government’s party, aims to create new sections within the Peace Tribunal, which will have the exclusive role of gathering the facts committed by the military in the conflict, a situation that puts in serious threat the Victims’ right to know the truth and receive justice, reparation and guarantee of non-repetition, which allows the veil of impunity to be unravelled. Moreover, this devastating draft legislative act violates the right of Colombian society to know the truth about what happened in more than half a century of war, obstructing not only the work of the JEP but also of the Commission of truth, and the commission for the search of missing persons.

The rights of the victims, whose protection has been one of the essential characteristics of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian State and the FARC-EP, are not only being violated in relation to the component of the truth, but also in relation to their right to be an active political subject in the process of implementing and building peace. That is the impression left by the fact that Congress has filed the bill that creates the Special Circumscriptions for Peace, a situation that prevents the political representation of these populations and their economic, political, social and cultural rights.

The limited advances in the process of reparations for victims are also discouraging. In Colombia 7,155,469 subjects of reparation has been identified; However, since the policy was launched, the country has only made progress in reparations for 898,540 people – roughly 12% of the total. In this regard, it seems that the current Government has no real commitment to the implementation of victim reparation policies, an impression reinforced by the fact that during the first year of the Duque’s Government the annual average of victims reparation has been reduced to less than half.

We also want to express concerns referring to the reinstatement of former FARC-EP combatants, now grouped in the political party called “Common Revolutionary Alternative Force”. There are several commitments made by the State in terms of reinstatement, which include the subsidy for productive initiatives and land titling of the ex-combatant population. The figures indicate that the Government has approved 29 collective productive proposals of the ex-combatants, of which only 19 have received their respective disbursement. Likewise, the number of beneficiaries is limited, since the approved projects cover only 14% of the population in the process of reinstatement, and those disbursed only cover 9% of this population[5]. This reality leaves the ex-combatants in a situation of uncertainty about the effectiveness of the process of economic and social reintegration.

State actions to provide security guarantees to ex-combatants, as well as social leaders and human rights defenders have also been insufficient. We observe with concern the climate of violence unleashed after the signing of the peace agreement, including a special concern for the human rights violations resulting from the systematic murder of the ex-FARC combatants and their families as well as of leftist leaders and activists, human rights defenders, environmentalists, peasants, students, indigenous and Afro-descendants, resembling the past extermination of the Patriotic Union. In this context, it is impossible to identify any government commitment at all to keep to the compromise of fighting and dismantling paramilitarism.

Having handed in their weapons as part of the Peace Agreement, the FARC turned Common Revolutionary Alternative Force Party – has denounced the murder of 150 ex-combatants since. During the first year of Iván Duque’s government, 236 homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders have also been registered[6]. We perceive the absence of political will to comply with the Security Guarantees contemplated in the agreement due to the inefficiency of the State to face the situation of human rights violations.

The peace agreement implementation process suffers from what appears to be a lack of political will from the Government to comply with the agreement. We sound an alarm about the lack of commitment in the development of a peace pedagogy as well as the fact that Government authorities – especially those of the Government’s party – attacking congressmen of the Common Revolutionary Alternative Force Party as well as other members of opposition parties and social leaders. This atmosphere appears to be an official state policy reluctant to move forward in a process of reconciliation, while a stigmatization and extermination process of opposition sectors is operating.

Given the current status of implementation of the Peace Agreement, LA VIA CAMPESINA calls on the Colombian People, the international community, the United Nations, FAO, the ILO, the European Union, the Non-Aligned Countries, Governments, Organizations and international solidarity in general, to surround the Peace Agreement in Colombia, demand unfettered compliance with the commitments assumed and demand that the dialogue not be replaced with the silence of violence.

Press Contacts

Nury Martinez | +57 310 772 0098 |
Federico Pacheco | +34 690 651 046 |
Veronique Leon | +33 622 161 399 |

[1] Kroc Institute for international peace studies. Tercer informe sobre la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz: La implementación sigue Progresando. 2019.

[2] CSIVI-FARC. Centro de Pensamiento y Diálogo Político. La implementación del Acuerdo de Paz durante el Gobierno de Iván Duque. Tendencia a la Perfidia y la simulación. 2019.

[3] ¿En qué va el Acuerdo de Paz a un año del Gobierno de Duque? Retos y Recomendaciones. Seguimiento multi-partidista a la implementación del Acuerdo de paz. 2019.

[4] La implementación del Acuerdo de Paz durante el Gobierno de Iván Duque. Tendencia a la Perfidia y la simulación. CSIVI-FARC. Centro de Pensamiento y Diálogo Político.

[5] CSIVI-FARC. Centro de Pensamiento y Diálogo Político. La implementación del Acuerdo de Paz durante el Gobierno de Iván Duque. Tendencia a la Perfidia y la simulación. 2019.

[6] Subcomisión de DDHH Cumbre Agraria, Campesina Étnica y Popular, informe para el período del 7 de agosto de 2018 al 4 de agosto de 2019.