Peace did not bury violence in Colombia

A forensic team tries to identify the remains of possible disappearances in Antioquia. / AFP

Five years after the agreement that ended a conflict of almost 60 years, the country continues to be divided between supporters and detractors

Five years have already passed since that November 24, 2016 in which Juan Manuel Santos, then president, and the main leader of the FARC guerrilla, Rodrigo Londoño, alias ‘Timochenko’, signed the peace agreement in the middle of of the happiness of many Colombians, but also with the rejection of the other half of the country that had voted “no” to the process in a plebiscite that had a 63% abstention. Colombia was trying to put an end to a conflict of almost sixty years. Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the violence has not disappeared from the country.

Five years later, the displaced number in the thousands, the murders of social leaders have not ended, many guerrillas who relinquished their weapons have lost their lives and the massacres do not stop. A report by Cohdes (an organization that defends human rights) says that the crime that has increased the most in Colombia is that of the displaced, with 75,000 victims, that this year there have been 90 massacres and that more than 200 former guerrillas and some 1,200 leaders social have been murdered.


  • 75.000
    people have been forced to leave their homes. They constitute the group of the displaced, perhaps the greatest problem facing the South American country.

  • A civil war with 9 million dead.
    Colombia is reluctant to forget an armed conflict that lasted for nearly six decades and sown its territory with nine million graves.

Humberto de la Calle, former vice president and head of the negotiating commission for the Santos government in the Peace Process with the guerrillas, considers that there is a consolidated fact: “The prominent fact that, curiously, is sometimes forgotten is that the FARC they put down their weapons, they were destroyed and today it is a peaceful political party. De la Calle criticizes the actions of the current government of Iván Duque: “In particular, his party and the most extreme souls have opposed the real implementation of the agreement.”

Political reform

For the former presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, progress has been made in the reincorporation of the guerrillas, but he considers that the conflict for better development has to face three essential issues. «On the one hand, political reform does not exist, a comma has not been advanced. It is a fundamental issue because what it seeks is to change the way of governing and incorporate forgotten communities in making decisions about their own destiny. That is a crucial, strategic issue. Second, the special jurisdiction of peace. The president himself objected to it several times. However, he has managed to maintain his task and recently received an accolade from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who decided to suspend the preliminary investigations into Colombia by recognizing that this special jurisdiction meets international standards. And thirdly, the agrarian issue is critical. In Colombia the origin of the conflict is in the countryside and the countryside has allowed it to last. Progress in this area has been very slow. What the comprehensive rural reform sought is to provide dignity, the presence of the State and land to live in a dignified way to many peasant families.

For Fidel Cano, director of ‘El Espectador’, a newspaper that yesterday launched a special supplement under the title ‘La paz fragmentada’, it is difficult to point out just one aspect of why Colombia has not been able to achieve the main objective of the Peace Process. “There was a kind of self-satisfaction from the Government of Juan Manuel Santos with the sole signature, and it did little or nothing afterwards to ensure implementation. The signing of the agreement and the Nobel received were in that sense taken as the point of arrival and the most difficult was lacking.


  • Fingerprints.
    The displaced are thousands, the murders of social leaders do not stop and guerrillas who relinquished their weapons are killed

  • Humberto de la Calle.
    “The Government of Iván Duque has opposed the real implementation of the pact” reached by Santos

Cano believes that the greatest challenge “is to make the agreement a national purpose that can be shielded from political use. It is difficult because, at the time, the “no” won in the plebiscite, and the winners still feel that their decision was mocked and imposed by an undemocratic path. And in that we have spent, in a fight between defenders and enemies of the agreement.

The great opportunity

The director of ‘El Espectador’ is confident that as time goes by, Colombians will understand the great opportunity that this agreement, achieved after long negotiations, offers to turn Colombia “into a more modern and egalitarian country in which violence does not be the axis of our destiny. Why trust that? Because if something has prevented the enemies of the process, who won with ‘no’ but also the last election, from destroying the agreement, it has been external pressure and that will continue ”.

The same hopeful line is shared by Humberto de la Calle. “I trust that Colombians, despite the resistance, understand that the process is already irreversible, that it must be accompanied and hopefully in next year’s elections a new Executive will fully accelerate the implementation and commit to the elements that are lacking in the development of this process. I am relatively optimistic, but at the same time I start from the basis that the generality of Colombians, even those who had objections, have understood that the agreement is not only an element that achieves peace with the mere signing of a paper, but also opens a stage lasting a decade or a decade and a half in which all Colombians, and not just the old guerrilla or the government of that time, end up turning the page of a conflict of more than 60 years and 9 million victims. ” .


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