Colombia’s entrepreneurs believe that peace with leftist rebel groups like FARC and ELN would reap economic benefit for the country, but only 55% support the dialogues, according to a national survey.
The commitment of businessmen to both the peace process and an eventual post-conflict Colombia has been a major talking point of the negotiations ongoing between the government and rebel group FARC in Havana.
Therefore, the Chamber of Commerce in Bogota together with the Ideas for Peace Foundation and International Catalan Institute conducted a survey to gather information about the perceptions and possible contributions of businessmen to the process.
The survey, which questioned 1,328 of Bogota’s business owners and managers, provided evidence that skepticism resides within the professionals over the future of the peace process.
Significantly, only 55% of those asked are in agreement with the ongoing dialogues, with the remaining 45% not in support of the process.
However, the employers expressed optimism over the economic benefits that a successful negotiation would catalyze.
85% of the Bogota businessmen said the peace deal would lead to increased foreign investment, while 72% believe that economic growth would accelerate.
Positive effects were also predicted in increased sales, a reduction in Colombia’s poverty level and improved income distribution.
The area in which the support of business owners is most expected is in the creation of post-conflict Colombia. The workers can bring employment opportunities to those who lay down their arms.
53% of those surveyed are willing to hire a demobilized guerilla, while 31% said they would give them work on the condition that it strengthened their business.
The survey also referred to how the presence of conflict-related crimes that currently affect the economic sector could change with a peace deal.
The businessmen acknowledged that extortion and terrorist attacks would reduce. However, they do not predict any change in criminal behavior such as smuggling and corruption, as they believe such crimes to have little connection with the armed conflict.
34% considered that a successful agreement would generate enhanced welfare and development for Colombia, while 18% felt that the country is on the path to secure peace.
Another 18% agreed that the talks are the best option to take, and 17% said that an agreement would reduce national violence statistics.
Paz traerá mayor inversión extranjera: empresarios (El Espectador)