As a result of the Peace Agreement reached between the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government after half a century of armed confrontation, the content of these agreements must be introduced into the legal system through Congress, where the original Peace Agreement is suffering modifications and sabotage on part of a considerable portion of congressmen.
This week, two important and key elements agreed between the parties are passing through Congress, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Opposition Statute, both of which set the bases for A.) Justice, truth, reparation and non-repetition guarantees to be granted to the victims of the armed conflict and the entire nation, and B.) The establishment of an Opposition Statute that provides political, legal, equality and security guarantees for political opposition in Colombia. Two basic elements of a democracy and a State governed by the Rule of Law.
Regarding the Special Jurisdiction for Peace:
Since the signing of the Peace Agreement, Colombian Congress has met to discuss the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in multiple occasions, this week the fourth debate took place in Senate where despite the already made modifications (in which things such as chain of command responsibility for Military commands who committed State crimes is left in an ambiguous terrain that provides broad impunity possibilities for commanders of the Colombian Armed Forces), a wave of sabotage and perhaps unconscious confessions was held by over 24 senators.
Time is ticking against Peace, the more time Congress takes to approve and introduce these laws into the legal system, the harder it will be for them to be correctly implemented and or implemented at all, which attempts against the core of the Peace Agreement itself, that is to say, against the possibility of ending a half a century internal war.
In order to carry out this objective, 24 Senators mostly from the Centro Democrático political party (which has opposed the Peace process and the peace agreements since day 1 under the wing of former president Alvaro Uribe), have declared themselves impeded from voting this law arguing that they do have a conflict of interests regarding the Special Jurisdiction for Peace due to the existing legal investigations that rest against them or their family members for links with paramilitary groups or for being victims.
The entire Senate debate thus revolved around the review and approval or not of the petitions of these senators, a classic maneuver that many congressmen recur to when trying to delay discussions and the approval of laws, except, that for this case, it’s the Peace of over 40 million people that they are playing with.
Green Alliance senator and presidential pre-candidate for the 2018 elections, Claudia Lopez said: “Those impediments [that the mentioned senators argue] seem like a confession to me. I would suggest taking these to the Supreme Court of Justice, because they are either a sabotage to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or a confession”.
Furthermore, Peace Agreement spokesperson Jairo Estrada from Voces de Paz (Voices of Peace) when making his speech to Congress in defense of the Peace Agreement and calling for no more sabotages, for order and healthy debate, received interruptions on part of far right winged senator Carlos Felipe Mejia who yelled –in “sarcasm”- that it is with lead (referring to bullets) that these discussions are won, something which Estrada immediately took as a threat and called to not be stigmatized for his role in defense of Peace in Colombia.
For the moment, and thanks to these political maneuvers to delay Peace, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace still awaits its complete approval, Peace in Colombia is still pending and those who detract from the possibility of building an inclusive and democratic Colombia are getting away with it.
Regarding the Opposition Statute:
This week in the House of Representatives of Congress, a promise of the Colombian Constitution that has never been materialized started to take shape, an opposition statute that guarantees the political participation of opposition movements and parties as well as the minimum security, legal and equality guarantees that are required for the exercise political rights.
The latter may seem as something basic in any democratic society, but for the Colombian case, in which the deaths, attacks, threats and convictions amount to the thousands against political opposition (and are still happening up to this day), an Opposition Statute is of a great and historic importance.
Jairo Rivera, a young political activist, former student movement leader, political scientist and spokesperson of the Peace Agreement to the Colombian Congress through Voces de Paz (Voices of Peace) said on his speech to Congress:
“political violence needs to be abolished, and in order to do so, the causes that originated it need to be eradicated, among which political exclusion is one of them, and just like today we are opening the door to this Opposition Statute, tomorrow we will have to take on a necessary debate, which is the broadening of democracy”.
Amidst sabotages and confessions Peace in Colombia tries to move forward, and many citizens such as those of Voices of Peace, the student movement, peasant organizations, labor rights organizations, gender equality activists, and every day Colombians, wake up every day to put their effort into materializing the dream of a new Colombia.
The FARC-EP on its part has shown its immense commitment to Peace and the establishment of democracy in Colombia despite not only the shown in this article, but constant delays, non-compliance and sabotage on part of the Government administration itself, because Peace has no reverse and little by little, struggle by struggle, the lords of the old segregationist and violent Colombia will have to give into the longing of Peace that true Colombian patriots have.
Without a doubt international support and oversight will result a key and determining factor for the future of Peace.