Colombian president Manuel Santos will meet with members of the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, FARC, today to review the peace agreement advancements and challenges one year after it was signed.
Playing the role of international observers at today’s meeting in the city of Turbaco, just southeast of Cartagena, are former presidents, Felipe Gonzalez (Spain) and Jose 'Pepe' Mujica (Uruguay).
The disarmed FARC will be represented by former guerrillas Ivan Marquez, and Jesus Santrich, who are both now members of the FARC’s newly formed political party.
The meeting comes as the Colombian government is being accused of not completing its end of the peace accords signed in the Cuban capital Havana. Since the final declaration went into effect in Nov. 2016 at least 105 human rights defenders who have died over, 59 percent of them were killed by gunmen. In December, U.N. Mission leader in Colombia, Jean Arnault, gave the Santos government low marks in its peace accord implementation.
Small-scale farmers participating in Colombia’s peace agreement continue to be gunned down or harassed in their rural communities, particularly those located in the Cordoba and Antioquia departments, by suspected paramilitary members.
“The implementation (of the accord) is far from over. … Unfortunately, in various areas (of the country) the winds of peace are still not felt”, says Bayuelo Castellar, rural communications activist in Antioquia and national peace prize winner, who helped draft the peace accords.
“The money used for the (former) war should be used today for health, highways, water systems, schools, and to reestablish social and cultural rights in the region,” the longtime activist told El Tiempo.
As the FARC has largely disarmed, in accordance to last year’s agreement, other paramilitary groups, such as the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AGC, have filled the vacuum, and are suspected of inciting violence and killings.
Last week the AGC, which is also the armed branch of the country’s most notorious organized crime ring, “Gulf Clan”, through a grenade into an Antioquia dance club, injuring 30 people, 11 gravely.
Colombian vice president, Oscar Naranjo, the interior minister, Guillermo Rivera, and the high commission of peace, Rodrigo Rivera will also take part in the talks.