The United States says it will work to prevent the collapse of a pending peace deal between Colombia’s government and the FARC rebels, according to the country’s ambassador.
After both sides missed the March 23 deadline to agree, the Marxist guerrillas are desperately seeking guarantees for their security amid concerns of political extermination at the hands of right-wing extremists.
Kevin Whitaker, recalling the close relationship between the two nations, insisted that US government support for the peace process will be unflagging as the negotiations enter the crucial final stages.
“We were next to Colombia in its worst times of war, when nobody else was. We are with Colombia today and will be in the future,” he said the Ambassador to the Colombian Head of State.
“We will continue to support the President Santos, continue to support the Colombians during the progress of these negotiations,” he added.
The pledges of the US to assist in the implementation of a peace deal and support of a post-conflict Colombia comes in the midst a wave of international support for the South American country.
Colombia’s government are locked in the final stages of negotiations seeking to agree a bi-lateral ceasefire and the demobilization of the rebels, the success of both of will depend on international oversight.
“Speaking of post agreement, the Embassy are already working with Minister Rafael Parrdo and the Ministry of Post Conflict to ensure that our strategies, practices and management are well coordinated with the governments vision,” said the US Ambassador.
During the closure of the assembly of members of the Council of American Enterprises (CEA) in Bogota, the diplomat highlighted the important role that US companies could play, post agreement.
“Now more than ever, when we are on the verge of the great challenge that post-agreement will present, I mentioned the social role of our companies. It is critical that this work will continue and grow in the post-conflict,” stated Whitaker.
The President of the Board of the Council of American Enterprises (CEA), Jaime Trujillo, called to depoliticize the peace process and indicated that this should be detached from the flailing public support for the Santos government.
“The support or rejection of the government can not be the criterion to approve or reject the agreement with the FARC and eventually with the ELN. And so we support his call to politicize this issue,”said the businessman.
He added that a serious debate “will be easier for citizens to fulfill our obligation to study and understand the agreements they finally arrive, critically analyze, and fix our position solely based on the same”.
Finally, Mr. Trujillo said the willingness of American companies to address their corporate social responsibility policies to reap the benefits of achieving peace.
“US multinational affiliates CEA will have been forerunners in the implementation of programs of corporate social responsibility and we are ready to guide these programs so as to effectively contribute to reap the benefits of the peace agreement,” he said.
Colombian government negotiators and the FARC representatives missed the self-imposed March 23 deadline to reach an agreement.
The talks have slowed mainly as a result of FARC concerns for their security if they lay down their weapons fearing that they will be slaughtered by right-wing neo-paramilitaries.
The support of the international community and in particular the US is essential in shaping a framework that will allow the rebels to disarm and reintegrate into civilian life after a 52-year armed struggle against the Colombian state.