Duque calls on UN for aid for peace process, Venezuela’s displacement crisis

Colombian President Ivan Duque asked world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to financially support his country’s “fragile” peace process and struggles to deal with the spill-over of a crisis in neighboring Venezuela.

Duque said he inherited “a fragile process on several fronts” from his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos in his first address to the international community.

“There is budgetary fragility, many compromises were made without allocating sufficient resources,” the Colombian president told the member states of the UN, which monitors the peace process that began in 2016.

He also said the peace process triggered “institutional fragility” in the country.

Thousands of military officials and politicians, including Duque’s political patron former President Alvaro Uribe have been accused of war crimes.

When he was elected into office in June, the peace process aiming to end decades of war and violence in Colombia was thrust into uncertainty.

UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Duque to continue the process with FARC guerrillas he so criticized after the young and inexperienced president took office.

“Peace is an objective of all Colombians and everyone, absolutely everyone, we will work decisively for it,” Duque said. “But peace needs to be built with the rule of law, which combines the public goods: security and justice.”

The words come at a time of great unrest in the South American country; social leaders are being massacred, death threats are being lodged against politicians, journalists and organizations critical of Duque and his allies, while cocaine production is breaking all-time records.

Duque noted the recent reports of spikes in drug production among other problems the country must address in his speech, also noting rampant corruption in his country and the Venezuelan immigration crisis, which he called “the most outrageous migratory and humanitarian crisis in the recent history of the region.”

The mass migration of Venezuelans is the largest in the Americas after that of Colombia, whose armed conflict displaced more than 7.5 million people.

Despite the major challenges facing his administration, Duque tried to end his first speech at the UN General Assembly on a positive note.

“We will not let anything take away the hope of being a country that thinks big, of being a country that dreams of a better future,” the president said.

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