The Defendamos La Paz (Let’s Defend Peace) group of politicians, former peace negotiators and civil society representatives has written to the new US administration of Joe Biden to highlight its concerns over the current state of the peace process and human rights crisis in Colombia. As vice-president to Barack Obama, Biden supported the 2012-2016 peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC which culminated in the historic Havana agreement signed in November 2016.
Since then, however, the peace process has faced multiple challenges that have left many people fearing for its future. Political opposition to the agreement remains strong, particularly within sections of President Iván Duque’s party, the Democratic Centre, while the United Nations has repeatedly warned of difficulties in the reincorporation of thousands of former guerrillas to civilian life. However, the main threat to the future of peace in Colombia is the escalating violence which has impacted many parts of the country and claimed the lives of over 250 former guerrillas and, according to national human rights organisations, over 1,000 social activists since the agreement was signed.
In the letter, addressed to Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris, Defendamos La Paz holds the Duque government responsible for failing to protect the peace process. ‘[T]he peace process and the implementation of the Agreement have met with numerous obstacles during the administrations of President Iván Duque in Colombia and President Donald Trump in the United States,’ says the letter, which also criticises Duque’s opposition to the agreement’s transitional justice chapter.
Signatories to the letter include both negotiating teams in the Havana talks, negotiators from the stalled ELN peace talks, other important actors in the peace process, congress members, human rights defenders, journalists, academics, representatives of social organisations and others.