A key mediator in successful peace talks with Colombia’s FARC guerrillas said the state is failing to comply with the peace agreement that seeks to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
The critic is businessman Henry Acosta, who was the first to mediate negotiations between the then-guerrillas and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.
The mediator’s claim that the state is failing to comply goes directly against claims by the ambassador of the United States who over the weekend accused the Marxist FARC group of not complying.
What was an illusion 7 years ago, when I started on September 6, 2010 with the FARC’s Alfonso Cano and Pablo Catatumbo, and with the Colombian State, Juan Manuel Santos and Sergio Jaramillo, has become a great disillusionment and has generated a high degree of stress for me, to the point that I was taken to the operating room twice in the last two months.
According to Acosta, the government is refusing to allow the collective reincorporation of former fighters, effectively increasing chances of FARC members being recruited by other illegal armed groups.
Acosta’s concern was confirmed by political website La Silla Vacia, which said that the absence of collective reincorporation programs is spurring demobilized former guerrillas to abandon the peace process.
Additionally, the government has failed to implement security measures in former conflict areas, which has caused an increase in violence targeting rural communities and their leaders, said Acosta in a letter.
The United Nations had already expressed its concern about an apparent increase in assassinations of social leaders.
The former mediator also questioned the government’s commitment to justice for the 8 million victims of the armed conflict, claiming the Prosecutor General’s Office had become the spearhead in attacks on the peace agreement signed in November last year.
The debates on the FARC’s political participation and special representatives for areas long consumed by violence respectively by the Constitutional Court and Congress threaten to become another failure to comply by the state, Acosta said.
Newspaper El Espectador reported Tuesday that the bill on this improved congressional representation for traditionally neglected regions was mysteriously altered after approval by congress to allow illegal actors who demobilized more than 10 years ago, for example former paramilitary commanders, to take part in upcoming elections.
The Colombian state, the FARC and the United Nations, which oversees the process, agreed in May to a number of additional agreements to secure all parties’ compliance with the peace deal.
The Santos administration had come under fierce criticism after initially failing to prepare the camps in which former could demobilize and later failing to provide the containers in which the demobilized guerrillas could store surrendered weapons.
The FARC’s members ultimately stepped in to construct their own demobilization camps while the UN had to step in to make sure the containers for FARC weapons were provided.
The consequences of a state failure to comply with the peace deal are almost impossible to exagerate.