A letter signed on Thursday by 62 United States representatives calls for the U.S. government to provide an “aid package” for Colombia to support eventual peace accords with rebel group FARC.
“A new aid package should be tailored to support eventual [peace] accords, but would likely feature increased support for implementing [Colombian] President Santos’ signature Land Restitution and Victims’ Law, especially for safe, sustainable land restitution for internally displaced persons (IDPs); titling for indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and landless farmers, including women; a strengthened Ombudsman’s Office to help protect the rural population; and support for regional ‘peace and development’ programs that are designed in close consultation with communities,” read the letter, which was delivered to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.
The congressmen declared their belief that the U.S. can work to “help Colombia reach a just and lasting peace, and to consolidate the rule of law and respect for human rights in a post-conflict setting.”
The congressmen acknowledge the role the U.S. has played in the past, stating their ambition to reorient “aid that for the last dozen years has supported a government at war,” evidently in anticipation of the signing of a peace accord.
“The U.S. provided training and resources to Colombia’s military during 2004 through 2008 when most of the extrajudicial executions known as “false-positives” took place, and we therefore bear a special responsibility to ensure that the Colombian Government fulfils its promise to deliver timely justice for these crimes” read the letter.
The congressmen also called for the need for U.S. aid to ensure that “justice for gross human rights violations… not be bargained away at the negotiating table.” as well as backing for the Land Restitution and Victims Law, as well as for regional “peace and development” programs across the country.
The letter also appealed to the U.S. government to be “flexible” in its approach to Colombia’s anti-drug policy, in light of the pejorative effects it may have on the establishment of peace.
“While the U.S. has a legitimate interest in stemming the negative impact of illegal drugs on our society, we encourage you to give space to Colombians to work out strategies that will best serve them in addressing this challenge,” read the letter.
The latest round of the peace talks between the Colombian government and left wing rebel group FARC are set to resume in Havana, Cuba next April 23.