EspañolColombia’s two largest guerrilla groups met in Ecuador this past week to discuss ways of ensuring peace agreements with the government move forward successfully. The Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) both reached an agreement during discussions and announced that they intend to form a joint defense of the peace process.
The two groups met in Montecristi, Ecuador for two days to discuss short-term issues like corruption, the assassination of movement leaders and the eradication of illicit crops such as coca and marijuana. The agreement, titled the “Montecristi Declaration,” said the guerrilla groups will defend the peace process and confront the challenges facing it.
— Rodrigo Londoño (@TimoFARC) October 23, 2017
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The document prioritizes “bilateral work” in order to defend the peace process, and finding common mechanisms for complying with the agreement made with the government last year, as well as advancing the agenda of talks agreed upon between the officials and the ELN.
The declaration also denounced the persecution of movement leaders and the death of 30 former members of the FARC — “acts that mostly remain in impunity,” it said, “while the Office of the Attorney General of the nation insists in a wrong way in not finding any connection in them.”
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The declaration also identified para-militarism as the greatest threat to peace and democracy in Colombia, calling for measures to eradicate such groups and support networks. In August, Congress began reviewing a bill that would have para-military groups tried for constitutional offenses.
Voluntary substitution and forced eradication of illicit crops remain the most fragile aspects of the declaration. The groups discussed problems of investment, transparency and land ownership with regards to substitution, in addition to confrontations in the southwestern department of Nariño between public forces, coca growers and FARC dissidents. Eight coca growers have been killed and 50 others have been wounded as a result of a forced eradication agreement with the US.
— FARC (@FARC_EPueblo) October 23, 2017
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“The FARC and the ELN talk about peace, but fear ties them together,” Jorge Castro, a consultant for the Colombian Libertarian Movement, said. “The sanctions against the Venezuelan government, including those by Canada and those coming from the EU, the changes of governments on the continent, including the victory of Macrista forces in Argentina and the fact that not even Santos himself is very enthusiastic about defending his own agreement make for a difficult climate for old-school guerrillas. ”
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“It’s probable that if the ELN take a long time in this process,” he said. “Not only do they not want to agree to the negotiated conditions proposed by the FARC, but in my opinion, the ELN will be the end of the treaty even for the FARC.”
The guerrillas expressed serious concern for corruption in the country and its role in obstructing “the possibility of peace and the future of a real democracy.”
High Commissioner for Peace Rodrigo Rivera said the meeting was very “frank” and that those in attendance showed “resolute support for the peace process in general,” while welcoming the decision by the two groups to create a mechanism for pacifying the disarmament.
— Alto Comisionado Paz (@ComisionadoPaz) October 23, 2017
Fatou Bensouda, a Prosecutor from the International Criminal Court (ICC), strongly questioned the agreement between the FARC and the government. In a 22-page brief, she said the way in which the responsibility of senior military officers is designed within the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) could give way to criminal prosecution before the ICC.
“The definition of responsibility of command in Legislative Act 01 goes against customary international law and, as a result, could frustrate Colombia’s efforts to fulfill its obligations to investigate and prosecute international crimes,” she said.