Social and farmers’ organizations from the war-torn southwest of Colombia on Saturday demanded more input in peace talks with rebel group FARC in the first of several regional peace meetings with congressmen.
Local representatives of farmers, afrocolombians, indigenous peoples, women, youth and unions demanded a restructuring of agriculture in the departments that are the top two coca cultivators in Colombia.
The representatives disapproved of the national government’s focus on mining and demanded policies that would promote agricultural development that in the locals’ opinion would improve food security and could even result in the export of agricultural products.
The locals of the departments long battered by violence and human rights violations by guerrillas, paramilitaries and soldiers vociferously rejected a recently approved law that allows members of the military suspected of human rights violations to be tried by military courts that in the past failed to sufficiently provide justice for crimes committed by the military.
Barreras told Spanish press agency EFE that the regional meetings “have the common purpose of constructing peace, to collect the voices of Colombians.” The Congress president vowed that those taking part in the regional meeting “will receive a response from those who are negotiating” with the FARC in Cuba to make an end to nearly 50 years of fighting between Marxist rebels and state.