UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on a field visit to Colombia on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement with the FARC, expressed concern on Tuesday about the actions of “enemies of peace” in this area. country.
The same day in Washington, the US government began the process to remove the former rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.
Along with Colombian President Ivan Duque, Mr. Guterres visited in the morning the municipality of Dabeiba, a mountainous and rural locality in the department of Antioquia, “to see firsthand the achievements of peace”.
He visited a “reintegration” site in Llano Grande, where their families live with former FARC combatants, who have been trying, since the 2016 agreement, to reintegrate into civilian life with small economic projects.
“Every day, they renew their commitment to build a country at peace. They know better than anyone that peace is not built overnight. It takes effort, tenacity, to build and preserve,” praised Mr. Guterres.
“Unfortunately there are enemies of peace,” lamented the UN boss, calling for “guaranteeing the safety of ex-combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders”. “The actions of illegal armed actors (…) destroy the hopes of communities and jeopardize development prospects,” he warned.
In a tweet published later, he said he condemned “in the strongest terms the use of violence and the assassination of human rights defenders and former FARC combatants in Colombia”.
Wednesday November 24 will mark in Colombia the fifth anniversary of the agreement between the government and the Marxist guerrillas that ended nearly six decades of internal war.
About 13,000 guerrillas have since laid down their arms to reintegrate into civilian life.
Violence continues, however, in several regions, where FARC dissidents have resumed arms and where other armed groups and drug traffickers are rife.
The 2016 agreement also remains contested, and nearly 300 ex-FARC have been assassinated in five years.
– “Reject violence” –
Mr. Guterres was also accompanied by several former guerrilla leaders, including their former commander, Rodrigo Londono, who saw as an “encouragement” the presence at their side of President Duque, long opposed to the 2016 agreement, during this visit.
Despite “many obstacles (…), despite the fact that we have had nearly 300 signatories killed, we remain committed on the path taken five years ago” and “we will respect the promises made to Colombia and the world “, assured Mr. Londono, also known by his former war name of” Tymoshenko “.
“We are all saddened when we see acts of violence against people who have been in the process of reincorporation or who exercise leadership in the territory”, also lamented President Duque. And to add, in an unusual gesture towards Londono: “We are all gathered here to clearly reject violence”.
Ivan Duque was for a long time a resolute opponent of the 2016 agreement, deeming it too favorable to the FARC, before being obliged, as head of state, to ensure its implementation.
“We made the total commitment that the reincorporation (of the ex-FARC) must be a success,” he said, recalling that the government had provided support for 3,200 projects in favor of ex-combatants.
“We must redouble our efforts to ensure the sustainability of (reintegration) projects, with technical and financial support, land and housing,” Guterres said, while the international community is the mainstay of the process.
The 2016 agreement “has a transformative vocation to tackle the root causes of the conflict, its implementation and its success in the territories are therefore crucial”, he stressed, recalling in passing that “access to earth is vital for a sustainable process “.
The United Nations Secretary General will attend another official ceremony on Wednesday, this time in Bogota, again in the presence of President Duque and ex-FARC leaders.
Another sign of normalization, the US government, which was for a long time the godfather of Bogota in its war against the FARC, notified Congress on Tuesday of its intention to remove the ex-communist guerrilla from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.
“I can confirm that the government today sent a notification to Congress informing us that they will remove the FARC from the list of terrorist organizations,” a parliamentary source told AFP.
The FARC had been on the American blacklist since 1997, which allows for financial and diplomatic sanctions. Having become a political party (Comunes), the former rebellion is now a political force, with a guaranteed quota of representatives at the Colombian congress.