Today will be transferred from various prisons in the country at the security zone the first five FARC guerrillas who will face the trial in front of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to see recognized his right of amnesty , the operation will be carried out by 20 men of the Institute of the National penitentiary. Once entered in the safety zones 5 rebels can move from this, they will also travel in the country at the condition of not leave it. According to reliable sources 2 of 5 guerrillas will move in the Gaitania safety zone.
The Colombian Congress approved the Amnesty Law for the FARC yesterday, now will only be signed by the President of the Republic Manuel Santos to enter into force. The law provides not only the opportunity for FARC guerrillas who set up political crimes to benefit from the amnesty but also stipulates that the state agents and the guerrillas may submit to the judgment of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a court that judges each case of amnesty demand of those individuals who are not included into the category of political criminals. During voting for the approval of the law, in the Senate, the representatives of the opposition party, the Democratic Centre, left the room to protest against an agreement that they never supported.
From the stage of the Oslo City Hall, where yesterday received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Colombian President Santos made an appeal to all the countries of the world, to rethink the fight against drug trafficking. After terminating the fight between the central state and the FARC, Santos wants, with the help of the international community also to win the battle against the drug cartels to realize a 100% pacification of the Americas.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Oslo where he will receive the Nobel Prize for peace tomorrow in a ceremony in the town hall. Santos told the press that the Nobel win was essential to conclude a peace agreement with the FARC because he convinced the population, at first skeptical, about the importance of an peace agreament between government and FARC.
On Sunday 3 October, Colombians went to the polls to decide whether to ratify a peace deal that would have brought an end to Latin America’s longest running armed conflict. After four years of talks, the agreement signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the head of the FARC, was supposed to end half a century of fighting which has killed a quarter of a million people.
The head of the government’s negotiating team Humberto de la Calle told some days earlier: “Those who vote YES will not only end the FARC as an armed organization, but open new convenient and useful roads for Colombia. People have a right to vote NO, but it is important that they know the consequences of their vote. I hope that all of us as Colombians decide the country’s future”.
Announcing the accord, FARC’s chief negotiator Rodrigo Londono, so-called “Timochenko” said: “We have agreed unanimously to end the conflict and to build a stable and lasting peace with the firm conviction that within it lies the seeds of transformation that the vast majority of people and the whole country are striving for.” FARC leaders and the Colombian government started peace talks in Cuba in November 2012, and since then, they have discussed about the conditions for peace, which concerned the concessions to make to the rebels and what kind of justice they should face. The government’s agreement with the FARC won the support of the United States, the United Nations and Pope Francis. Ringo Starr even recorded a song for it, which shows the need for peace shared throughout the world. But, as we all well know, voters rejected the landmark deal as too lenient on the rebels. The Sunday’s results were a shock to the Santos government and the peace deal’s supporters, as well as to the country that plunged into uncertainty.
We shall now try briefly to explain the reasons why there was a NO vote.
First of all, we’re talking about a quite complex agreement, of more than 290 pages, in which the most critical point is the transitional justice talks, which means what would happen to FARC guerrillas, such as those who have killed almost 260,000 Colombians, 80% of which were civilians. “Would they be imprisoned or not?” was the big question, the most critical discussions which lasted several months. Under the terms of the deal, the FARC would have been able to transform from guerilla army to political party with 10 unelected congressional seats, guaranteed until 2026, 5 seats of which in the Senate and 5 in the Lower House, to compete in the 2018 presidential and legislative elections.
The estimated 7000 FARC fighters were supposed to hand over their weapons and move into 28 disarmament zones set up by the UN. FARC members would have received a 2-year pension and a one-off payment of 610 euros. Furthermore, in order to combat drug crime, FARC agreed to stop cocaine production in its strongholds. In return, the government would have helped farmers earn a new living. However, nevertheless the group publicly admitted for the first time it trafficked drugs, recruited minors and committed human rights violations, including massacres, amnesty would have been granted for political crimes. However, voters were worried the rebels would fail to turn over assets from drugs and illegal mining, which would potentially give them a formidable opportunity to outstrip the coffers of traditional political parties.
On the other hand, once the government announces the referendum results, the agreement would have been implemented progressively according to its timeline, that’s why it would have taken anyway a long term for Colombia to achieve real stability.
The angered “No” campaigners argued in fact that the rebels should serve jail terms and not be allowed to enter politics. The former President, Alvaro Uribe, said that a better agreement could be negotiated. “We – the No voters – say in solidarity to those for Yes that we want peace too. Our concern is with the fear of seeing a weakening of democracy in our constitution in the face of terrorism”.
President Juan Manuel Santos said there is no Plan B for the failure of the plebiscite vote. In the meantime, Timochenko stated on Monday that the peace accord is legally binding because it was signed by Santos. With the deal at risk of collapse, a half-century war that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced eight million, could easily flare up again, a scenario that seemed unimaginable before Sunday. The Colombian government and the FARC have no choice but to renegotiate, to rework the deal and make it more appealing to the voters.
On the 23rd of June, a landmark cease-fire agreement was signed in Havana between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia) and the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The peace talks, which have been held in Havana since November 2012, led to a remarkable achievement: a possible solution to a 50 years lasting conflict.
The meeting was held in Havana, the capital of the small Caribbean country that gave a great support to the negotiation process. In fact, Cuba provided the necessary mediation between a revolutionary armed group and a legitimate government. This task has been carried out in an excellent way by the pre-eminent revolutionary country of Latin America, whose government is the successor of a guerrilla group that took the power in 1959. At the same time, Cuba has created an institutional stability as well as a credibility in international relations. These characteristics gave Cuba the status of a trusted interlocutor in the international community. Moreover, the United Nations Organization (UN) played a determinant role in the peace talks, both in the negotiation process and in the future implementation of the agreement. In fact, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, took part in the decisive meeting on the 23rd of June.
The agreement is composed of three parts. The first one refers to the cease-fire, the end of the conflict and the disarmament. The second part concerns the fight against criminal organizations and the safety of political movements. The third one, finally, affirms the commitment of both parts in asking the Constitutional Court to decide which mean could be appropriate in order to check people’s opinion on the agreement (probably a referendum). The first part of the covenant is the most important because it defines how the end of the conflict and the disarmament are going to be ensured. This is going to be obtained by the creation of specific zones, in which the fighters will be able to live, without their weapons, in order to start an integration process in the civil society. Inside these zones, professional or educational courses are going to be organized in cooperation with the government. Another important point of the agreement is that the FARC accepts to deliver all its weapons to the UN. So that the UN officials will be able to use it for the creation of three monuments, which will be designed together by the FARC and the Colombian government. In order to guarantee the respect of the commitments, a monitoring and verify mechanism is going to be founded. It will be composed of representatives of the FARC, the government as well as the UN. The second part of the covenant refers to the commitment of the government in fighting criminal organizations and ensuring for all political and social movements a safety participation in Colombian political life. This is the necessary requirement to allow FARC’s inclusion in the political dialogue, so that they will be able to express their future political claims by legal means. In exchange, the FARC accepts to give up using weapons for political purposes.
The President Juan Manuel Santos declared that a new era of peace in Colombian history has started, but at the same time, it is important to remain realistic, because the issue is not completely resolved. In fact, the Colombian population is required to approve the agreement by a referendum consultancy. Even though the majority of the population expressed its joy when the pact was signed, a part of political forces is more conservative and rejects any kind of negotiation with the FARC. These political forces, headed by the former President Álvaro Uribe, think that the FARC should be defeated by military means. In addition to that, someone observes that the government has not resolved the conflict with smaller armed groups like the ELN (National Liberation Army), which asked the government for separate negotiations.
Nevertheless, the importance of the agreement reached is undeniable. Its symbolic value as well as its pragmatism have restored Colombians hope in the solution of the bloody conflict that has been affecting their country since the sixties.