There has been an armed conflict in Colombia for over 50 years between the Colombian State and left-wing guerrilla groups, the larger FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the smaller ELN (National Liberation Army). The conflict has not been confined to the battlefield; hundreds of thousands of civilian lives have been lost as a result of the conflict, and millions more have been devastated. Whilst previous attempts have been made at peace talks, for the last 8 years the Colombian State has pursued a wholly militaristic approach, with previous President Uribe claiming that he would defeat the FARC in 6 months back in 2002. Whilst President Santos (previously Minister of Defence under Uribe) has made comments about being open to a peace process, the militaristic approach continues; intensifying the war and causing daily more civilian casualties.
The Colombian military have killed several top FARC commanders in recent years, most recently the head of the insurgent organisation, Alfonso Cano, but as noted by civil society movements for peace, such as Colombians for Peace, this will not bring an end to the conflict and may simply lead to its further degeneration. In fact, Colombian NGOs monitoring the war now say that the violence has returned to 2002 levels.
A negotiated settlement with active civil society participation, and which fully addresses the social inequalities that lie at the root of the conflict is the only way to end the bloodshed. The international community must support Colombian civil society in its search for peace with social justice.
An Early Day Motion, EDM 2276 HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA has been tabled in the UK Parliament calling on the UK Government to encourage the parties to the conflict to enter into dialogue. Please CLICK HERE TO WRITE TO YOUR MP asking them to add their name.