Colombian congress criticises government over peace process failings

Colombia’s congressional opposition has released a report criticising the government of President Ivan Duque over its failures to implement the 2016 peace agreement, with at least 57 per cent of the agreement yet to be put into place.

The report also accuses the president of exhibiting a pro-peace agenda internationally while neglecting and impeding the peace process at home. ‘On the international stage, he ensures his commitment to the agreement’, it says. ‘Meanwhile, in the country he expresses reservations about the agreement, does not make the necessary investments in the territories, lacks a citizen security policy that gives confidence and calmness, submits objections to the JEP [and] introduces legislative reforms that generate uncertainty between victims and combatants’.

Among the government failings are the woeful underfunding which has allocated barely a quarter of the necessary resources to advance implementation. It also said that programmes designed to address victims’ rights were failing to reach people and that, at the current rate, it would take 62 years to compensate the millions of people adversely affected by conflict.

The issue of rural development and land reform, a priority of the peace process, has suffered from extremely slow implementation. While the agreement stipulates a 10 million hectare land fund to distribute land to communities and victims, only 73,465 hectares have so far been formalised, a mere 8.7 per cent of the target. Furthermore, chronic under-investment has impeded the rural development programmes considered vital to tackling the root cases of conflict.

With regards to the reincorporation of thousands of FARC members who have disarmed under the terms of the peace agreement in order to transition to civil society, more than 80 per cent have yet to access the productive projects that will help them build lives away from conflict. FARC former guerrillas also face chronic security concerns, with 56 murdered since Duque took office one year ago and 138 in total since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.

There is a lack of progress in voluntary substitution of coca plantations with legal crops, another central aspect of the peace agreement that stipulates coca farmers are themselves responsible for replacing coca with traditional and legal crops. Coca continues to be grown in many parts of the country, partly due to the state’s failure to provide communities with the necessary support to switch to legal forms of agriculture.

The report called for dialogue and cooperation within different blocs of the congress to help the peace process advance and to ensure that its benefits can reach the highest possible number of people.