Diplomats ‘concerned and amused’ by Colombia’s attempts to restrict access to FARC reintegration camps

FARC reintegration camp in Dabeiba, Antioquia (Image: UN Verification Mission)

Foreign diplomats in Colombia are reportedly annoyed with the country’s foreign ministry for trying to restrict their access to FARC reintegration camps.

Multiple embassies received a letter from the foreign ministry in which they were told they can only visit demobilized FARC guerrillas in the “second and fourth week of each month between Wednesday and Friday.”

The ambassadors were also told they can only visit after government approval that would have to be requested three weeks before any visit to the so-called ECTRs, tiny villages where FARC guerrillas are taking part in reintegration projects.

According to political analyst Ariel Avila, the letter was received both with concern and amusement as the Colombian government cannot legally restrict the liberty of movement of anyone, most certainly not diplomats.

The concern of some ambassadors was that this issue could be a type of restriction on visits to the areas in which thousands of former FARC guerrillas currently reside, bearing in mind that several countries are guarantors of the implementation of the Agreement and are also part of the verification process. If international delegations can only go to these areas with members of the national government, what would happen if a congressman or even a member of the FARC, the other signatory of the Peace Accord, invited an official from a foreign government or an international organization?

El Espectador

A spokesperson of the government told newspaper El Espectador the letter was sent for logistical purposes.

The letter was made public just days amid growing pressure on the government of President Ivan Duque about his government’s failures to implement the peace deal signed with the former guerrillas in 2016.

Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said the criticism was part of an “international campaign” to discredit the president, whose far-right party has fiercely opposed the peace process.

The FARC accused the government last week of obstructing the tripartite commission that is in charge of verifying compliance with the deal.

The United Nations’ mission in Colombia, which is part of this commission, is expected to inform the UN Security Council about progress in the peace process next month.

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