UN: peace agreement with Colombia provides opportunity to tackle protest issues
UNITED NATIONS (PA) – The UN special envoy for Colombia on Tuesday called on Colombian society to use the …
UNITED NATIONS (PA) – The United Nations special envoy for Colombia on Tuesday called on Colombian society to use the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest rebel group as an opportunity to solve many problems longstanding protests and recent unrest.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu told the UN Security Council that these issues are urgently resolved, saying “bold steps” are needed to speed up the implementation of the peace agreement in the coming months .
âWe continue to reject violence from all sides and call for peaceful dialogue,â he said. âWith a new electoral cycle fast approaching, I call on the parties and all relevant actors to remain committed to the agreement and to continue to prioritize dialogue to resolve their differences. “
The protests began on April 28 against proposed tax increases on utilities, fuel, wages and pensions, but have turned into widespread demand for the government to pay long-standing debts to the most vulnerable in the world. society, such as indigenous and Afro-Latino peoples. Even though President IvÃ¡n Duque’s administration withdrew the tax measure, protests continued and escalated as reports of police violence, deaths and disappearances were reported.
Prior to the signing of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia movement, known as FARC, more than 50 years of war in Colombia killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million people. An amnesty law has been adopted for most of the offenses committed by FARC combatants.
Ruiz underlined the possibilities offered by the comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement “to gradually tackle the fundamental clauses of the conflict”, and he called on all parties to persist in respecting all its provisions.
He called the recent meetings between government officials and veterans to jointly assess implementation “steps in the right direction, noting that they had been requested by Duque and Rodrigo Londono, chairman of the formed Party of Commons. by the now demobilized FARC.
Ruiz told council members that violence persists against former FARC members, social leaders and communities in the Montes de Maria area, which he recently visited, and other areas, especially along the Pacific coast and parts of southern and northeastern Colombia.
“This is mainly linked to the actions of illegal armed groups and criminal organizations that thrive in areas characterized by a limited state presence, poverty and illegal economies,” he said.
Ruiz stressed that “the persistent violence and stigma against ex-combatants and members of the Party of Commons is of particular concern, especially ahead of the 2022 elections, as they expect to actively engage in political work. Across the country “.
Marta Lucia Ramirez, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said that many killings resulted from drug trafficking and that âso manyâ killings of leaders had been committed by former FARC combatants.
She said that many people involved in the trafficking of coca, cocaine and other narcotics must share the responsibility and she urged the international community to work together to identify and eliminate all those involved in the production, processing in different countries and distribution. .
Ramirez told the council that it is important to recognize that “progress has been made” in the five years since the signing of the peace agreement.
“It is not true that this recent violence that our country has suffered is the result of any violation of the agreement,” she said.
Ramirez said the government was “very sorry” for the deaths in the protests, which she blamed on “minorities” infiltrating the protests, some armies.
“I want you to know that we had 15,000 protests, and that in only about 11% the national police needed to intervene,” she said.
Ramirez said the deployment of armed forces and civilian institutions across the country “is the government’s top overriding priority.”
The government believes in institutionally built peace, based on democracy and the division of power and economic investment to create jobs, âbut unfortunately there are people who want to gain power by destroying the existing system that we we have in Colombia, âshe said.
In Colombia, the country’s human rights ombudsperson said on Tuesday that at least 44,000 people were forced to flee their homes in the first half of this year due to fighting between armed groups on drug trafficking routes. and other illegal businesses in remote areas of the countryside. This compared to 14,000 in the first six months of 2020.
The office said much of the forced displacement occurs in the southwestern department of Narino, where two criminal groups led by former guerrilla fighters are fighting for control of drug trafficking routes.
Associated Press writer Manuel Rueda in Bogota, Colombia contributed to this report.
Copyright Â© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.