Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba calls on the European Union to pressure President Juan Manuel Santos into a “political dialogue” with rebel groups to end the country’s violent conflict.
“Knowing the human rights situation in Colombia, I invite the E.U. to pressure Colombia … to come to a political dialogue,” the senator told Spanish press agency EFE in Brussels a day after the United States certified that Colombia’s human rights record meets the necessary standard to receive more than $30 million in military aid.
Cordoba, who presides over the peace committee in Colombia’s Senate, wants Santos to begin peace talks with leftist rebel groups such as the FARC, and to involve peace advocates and human rights organizations, in order to achieve a “humanization of the conflict.”
On Monday, the European Parliament stressed that Colombia’s human rights record was improving, allowing the E.U. and Colombia to further develop plans for a free trade pact. The statement is opposed by the minority coalition of leftist parties in the European Parliament.
“It is impossible to sign a treaty with a country that has mass graves, corpses, presidents facing criminal charges over paramilitary ties and ongoing assassinations,” EU parliamentarian Willy Meyer told Efe.
According to Cordoba, it is “incomprehensible” that Europe and other countries sign free trade agreements with Colombia knowing “the humanitarian degradation and the situation of poverty and misery,” in her country.
Colombia and the E.U. have been working on a free trade agreement for years.