THE peace deal agreed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been hailed as a “great day for Colombia”.
Fifty years of conflict, which has claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people, came to an end last week when the two sides finalised an agreement in Havana, Cuba. A ceasefire had earlier been agreed in July (News, 1 July).
CAFOD’s head of Latin America, Clare Dixon, said: “This is a great day for Colombia. Together with our partners, we are celebrating this deal as an important step towards achieving peace in the country.”
One of the charity’s local partners, the Centre for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), said that it was the start of a long journey. “We are celebrating this news; this is the start of a long journey to transform the country, although we still face many challenges before we can say Colombia is a country at peace,” the deputy director of CINEP, Sergio Coronado, said.
The deal must still be approved and accepted by Colombian society; and both the disarmed guerillas and those living under rebel-held territory must be kept safe.
Once the peace deal has been signed on 23 September, it needs to be endorsed in a referendum, due to take place in October. The six main parts of the agreement are on rural development, political participation, ending the conflict, illicit drugs, victims’ rights, and peace-deal implementation.
Christian Aid, which also works in the country, has welcomed the news. Thomas Mortensen, who manages its programmes in Colombia, said: “The enormous effort made by the government and the FARC to reach this agreement must be congratulated. However, there remain many outstanding issues which could hinder the success of the peace process.” A rise in paramilitary violence and forced displacement must be tackled, he said.
The director of Christian Aid’s local partner, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, Fr Alberto Franco, said: “Another challenge is to see behind the immediate enthusiasm of the peace deal, and to remember that peace-building also requires deep and lasting transformation of society.
"The peace process should mean the end of Colombia’s position as one of the world’s most unequal and corrupt countries, where people are often second to commercial interests.”