Mediation Perspectives: Innovative Approaches in the Colombian Peace Process

August 28, 2014

See my post published yesterday for the International Relations and Security Network of ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology:

Mediation Perspectives: Innovative Approaches in the Colombian Peace Process.


Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

27th Cycle Closes with Unprecedented Advances

Friday, August 22, 2014

There is hardly time to read about all that is happening with the Colombian peace talks, let alone write about it.  The summer pace in Washington is inversely proportionate to the relatively rapid pace of developments in Havana.

After a wave of violence in recent months that caused President Juan Manuel Santos to warn on July 30 that the FARC were “playing with fire and the process could end,” (a concern he repeated again last week), the talks between representatives of the government of Colombia and the FARC-EP moved into high gear, belying the fears that the peace process could come grinding to a halt.  It is worth noting that violence often spikes in peace processes at critical moments of progress at the peace table, and it appears that the Colombian peace talks have entered such a stage.

Talks Finish their 27th Cycle

On August 22, the peace talks in Havana finished their 27th cycle.  In the past few months, particularly in this most recent cycle which began on August 12th, the negotiating teams have adjusted their methodology to streamline work on the remaining agenda items (victims and ending the conflict).  Following four preparatory sessions that culminated in an intensive working meeting from August 3-5, the parties announced  procedural agreements on four fronts:  victims, a historical clarification commission, ending the conflict, and gender. (For details of each, see especially the August 5th joint communiqué here.)

Following the most recent round of talks, the parties disclosed progress on the first three topics.  Of particular note, the parties established a mechanism for unprecedented direct conversations with victims at the peace table and received their first delegation of victims in Havana on August 16th.  Also of note, on August 21, the Historical Commission on the Conflict and its Victims (CHCV) was appointed.  Finally, on August 22, the parties installed a technical sub-commission on ending the conflict, and the first active-duty military officers from Colombia briefly joined the table in Havana for the installation.   On the final point, the anticipated constitution of the gender sub-commission, no mention was made of advances.

The CHCV and the technical sub commission will work in parallel as the delegations move forward simultaneously on the issue of victims.  One senses the transcendental importance of each of these developments, as they collectively edge the process closer to completion.  This is also a time that is highly vulnerable to violence, so the parties should take care not to let themselves be sidetracked, and civil society leaders must be prepared to weather any storms on the horizon.

Addressing the Issue of  Victims

The emotionally charged issue of how to repair the victims and satisfy their rights has become central to the conversations in Havana and increasingly important within Colombia.  This is one of the most difficult items on the peace agenda because of the large number of affected persons and communities, the range of victimization acts, the harm and deep-seated trauma incurred, the tremendous displacement and interruption of livelihoods caused by the violence, and the variety of perpetrators.  How these ongoing patterns and legacies of violence are dealt with–the seriousness with which the victims’ proposals are treated, the level of respect given to victims in the discussions, and the willingness of victimizers and their representatives to face the victims, accept responsibility for wrongs incurred, ask forgiveness, accept responsibility, and provide guarantees of non-repetition–have enormous repercussions for the prospects of peace and reconciliation in Colombia.

The parties in Havana have made substantial progress in recent months in laying out a  framework for addressing these difficult issues. (See my earlier post here.)  Their June 7th joint declaration of principles on victims–based largely on principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, satisfying victims’ rights, and guaranteeing non-repetition of the conflict–continues to be an important touchstone and may prove to be a model for other conflict zones.  (See the declaration of principles here in Spanish and here in English.)  In addition, the parties have created mechanisms and opportunities for victims to be heard both directly at the peace table in Havana and in other forums.  On July 17, the parties recognized that the voice of the victims “will be a fundamental input (insumo) in the discussions” on victims, and announced more specific details for how victims would participate in the peace process, including directly at the peace table.  (See the joint communiqué here.)

Third Parties Tapped

The parties in Havana charged the UN system in Colombia and the Center for Thought and Monitoring of the Peace Process of the National University–in consultation with the different victims associations in Colombia, and with the Episcopal Conference as guarantor of the process–with organizing five delegations of up to a dozen victims each to  travel to Havana to participate in the 27th cycle and each of the subsequent four cycles of talks.  The parties also called on the UN and National University to organize four forums of victims to generate inputs for the process (as they had done on earlier agenda topics).  The UN and the National University accepted the mandate, and under their auspices in July and August, thousands of victims participated in a series of three closed regional forums in Villavicencio, Barrancabermeja, and Barranquilla, and a national victims’ forum in Cali.  From these forums, the organizers have now synthesized and presented to the table more than 3,000 proposals on how the peace accords might help satisfy the victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition.  A further 5,000 proposals on the theme of victims have been sent to the table in Havana for consideration by the negotiating teams.  (See Comunicado Conjunto 41.)

On August 15, the organizers released the names of the 12 victims selected to participate in the first delegation to Havana.  In a press release that day, they discussed how they had interpreted the mandate given to them by the government and FARC negotiators, as well as the criteria they had used to select delegation members.  (See their statement and the list of delegation members here.)  Recognizing the difficulties inherent in selecting a dozen victims who could represent a universe of 6.7 million victim, the organizers admitted, “Any selection can be debated, and … criticized.”   The negotiators in Havana had asked the UN and the National University to pay particular attention to questions of “balance, pluralism, and sindéresis” (defined by the Dictionary of the Royal Academy as “discretion and natural capacity for good judgement”) in carrying out their task.

There were criticisms of the process, particularly before it took place.  (See “Doce víctimas que todos hirieron.”) The question of inclusion of victims by groups other than the FARC was not to the liking of many FARC victims, including Rep. Clara Rojas.  ExPresident Alvaro Uribe and the Democratic Center Party roundly condemned the process and the broad interpretation of victims of the conflict as opposed to victims of the FARC.  (See former President Alvaro Uribe’s statement on “Las víctimas y sus victimarios.”).  “Iván Márquez,” the FARC delegation head, noted that the FARC delegation appreciated the effort of the organizers to ensure that the entire universe of victims were heard, but noted that the delegation included a disproportionate number of FARC victims, while the preponderance of victims were perpetrated by the State and paramilitary forces. (See Márquez’s press statement here.)

Likewise, there was some debate over whether the military, police, and insurgents, could be appropriately considered as victims of the conflict.  Members of ACORE, the retired military officials’ association, participated in the recent victims’ forums sponsored by the United Nations and the National University.  There ACORE members discussed their sense of victimization and presented their proposals for the peace table.  In the forum that I observed in Barrancabermeja, one ACORE official acknowledged openly that he had been terrified to attend, and he was surprised that he had been listened to and treated with respect by the other victims.

President Santos defended the table’s mandate for a broad, inclusive delegation of victims.  Santos said, “If we want peace in this country, we cannot begin to divide (segmentar), only these victims, or these yes and those no.  The conflict is one conflict, and the solution to the conflict is one solution.  Therefore all of the victims must be heard… if we want peace we must listen to all of the victims.”  President Santos applauded the selection process, and underscored the meed for all of the different victims to travel to Havana and “say what they want, how they see the process, how they would like to see their condition of victimhood recognized and their rights defended.”

Historic Meeting in Havana

The historic encounter between the victims and the negotiators began at 9 am on Saturday, August 16.  It opened with a prayer and a moment of silence to remember all of the victims of the conflict.  The two heads of the peace delegations–Humberto de la Calle for the government and Luciano Marín (“Iván Márquez”) for the FARC–made initial remarks, then each of the victims had 15 minutes to present their individual testimonies, proposals, and recommendations for the final peace agreement.  The session lasted nearly 9 hours.  For some victims, it was the first opportunity to face their victimizers or their representatives, and the reverse was also true.

In a powerful press conference at the end of the day, the twelve victims read from a joint statement they had prepared.  They were united in their call for peace and reconciliation, underscoring their disposition for unity–“without exclusions or silencing”–and their belief that truth will form the foundation for peace.  Watch the press conference in its entirety here:

The complexity of the conflict was reflected in the complexity of the victims’ delegation.  The delegation was characterized by its diversity and pluralism.  It included seven women and five men from a multiplicity of backgrounds, social sectors, ethnicities, political ideologies, and eight regions plus Bogotá.  The delegation included victims of abuses by all of the armed actors in Colombia’s internal armed conflict–insurgents, paramilitaries, drug traffickers, State, security forces, and unknown assailants.  Delegation members or their relatives had experienced assassination, displacement, torture, extrajudicial execution (falsos positivos), gender violence, kidnapping, massacres, and disappearance.

Deftly finessing the debates around whether the military, police, or guerrilla members could be considered victims, the organizers noted, “Members of the Armed Forces (Fuerza Pública) and their relatives, as well as members of the guerrilla groups and their families,” can be considered as victims, provided “they suffered damage of substantial injury to their rights as a consequence of manifest violations of their rights or international humanitarian law.”  (See “Doce víctimas que todos hirieron se fueron a Cuba“).

One victim of the delegation, Alfonso Mora León, was a retired sub official of the Army whose son was a FARC member, assassinated in a massacre perpetrated by the State, after having been kidnapped and tortured with 5 other youths.  Nelly Gonzalez was the mother of a police commander who was assassinated by the FARC and was a victim of forced displacement.  María Eugenia Cruz was a victim of gender violence, forced displacement, and persecution by different armed groups for her work on women’s rights and victims of sexual abuse.  Debora Barros was an indigenous survivor of a massacre by paramilitaries that claimed five women in her family and forced her displacement.  Angela María Giraldo lost her brother in a kidnapping of 11 Congresspeople in Cali.  Constanza Turbay, had lost 8  family members, including two brothers and her mother, at the hands of the FARC.

While in the Colombian press, attention in recent weeks has focused largely on divisions and differences among the victims, what was striking about the victims’ delegation in Havana was not their differences, but what they had in common.  All could reach beyond their pain for a greater vision of a country at peace.  UN Coordinator Fabrizio Hochschild noted that all twelve victims were united by their pain and as survivors, and that, as citizens, the victims “had demanded that the signing of a peace accord stop the cycle of violence that continues to produce new victims every day.”  They also demanded that victims should not “be stigmatized, discriminated against, divided, or used.”

In answering questions from the press, Constanza Turbay told of her encounter with “Iván Márquez,” the head of the FARC delegation.  Márquez had approached her after the session and said that what happened to her family members was a mistake, and he asked for her forgiveness.  Turbay called Márquez’s act of recognition the “most important” and “transcendental” meeting in her life, and she called for a deeper commitment to resolving the conflict.  “If we, who have been affected by the violence, can take this determined step, why can’t the rest of the country?” she asked. (See “‘Si nosotros damos un paso, por qué no el rest del país': víctimas.“)  José Antequera, another victim, son of an assassinated leader of the Unión Patriótica party, spoke of evolving interest among the victims in establishing a broad-based victims’ movement that would unite victims across the political spectrum in an alliance for peace. This kind of alliance of victims of the different armed actors was what opened the possibility for negotiations in the Basque Country between ETA and the Spanish government.  Such an alliance could be significant in forging the path for broader reconciliation within Colombian society.

Reactions to the Meeting 

All those engaged in the process appear to have been deeply moved by the delegation’s visit to Havana.  In a joint statement, the peace delegations thanked the victims for their “testimonies, opinions, and proposals that were expressed with great courage and candor.”  (See Comunicado Conjunto 41) “We received their demonstrations of pain and their demands as an ethical and moral imperative to successfully conclude these [peace] talks.”  (See more on their visit here).

Humberto de la Calle noted following the meeting, “The visit of this first delegation of victims was perhaps one of the most transcendental moments of the process, and in any case, the most emotional.  Their testimonies brought home why Colombia deserves and needs us to end the conflict, why we must unite to confront the past, overcome it, and work for the construction of a stable and lasting peace, and thus contribute to reconciliation.”  (See De la Calle’s statement here.)

The FARC delegation issued its own response, noting also the “transcendence” of the meeting, “in which the protagonists, supported by their own pain, generously opened  their hearts to the most beautiful sentiment of peace.”  (See statement by FARC delegation here.)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called the peace talks between the first victims’ delegation and the parties “unprecedented.”  Pillay noted that empowering victims as agents of social change is a process that is transforming the power dynamics in Colombia and transforming victims into survivors and subjects with rights.  Those who violated the rights of victims are now obliged to restore those rights.  Pillay said, “Listening first-hand to their [the victims']  pain is a very good start, because it demonstrates the significance of assuming responsibilities, putting an end to the violations, and restoring the rights of the victims.” (See interview with Pillay here.)

Victims hold hands at encounter in Havana.  (Photo courtesy of Prensa Latina)

Victims hold hands at encounter in Havana. (Photo courtesy of Prensa Latina)

The delegation was accompanied by civil society representatives from the United Nations system in Colombia (including the resident coordinator Fabrizio Hochschild, and Belén Sanz, head of UN-Women in Colombia), the National University (including Alejo Vargas and Marco Romero), and the Colombian Episcopal Conference (including the president of the bishops’ conference, Msr. Luis Augusto Castro, and Dare Echeverri).  Hochschild noted that the victims’ visit to Havana had been “one of the most moving experiences” in his 30 years of accompanying peace processes in conflict zones on every continent.  (See “‘Si nosotros damos un paso, por qué no el rest del país': Víctimas.“)

Concluding Remarks

The impact of the Havana meeting should not be underestimated.  It has provided the negotiators with moral and ethical support for their work and a mandate to recommit to a successful conclusion of the peace process.  It brought home to all of the negotiating team members the tremendous pain that the conflict has inflicted upon a wide variety of Colombian citizens, and the urgency of ending the conflict once and for all.  It also provided the negotiators with a range of new ideas to be considered as they craft their final agreements.

For the victims too, the visit was important.  Their participation in the process constitutes a form of symbolic reparation and a recognition of their moral authority by the broader Colombian society.  For some, their participation restored or strengthened a sense of personal dignity, the hope that their voices matter and will be heard, and that they have a role in bringing peace to their country.  The visit provided victims with an opportunity to share their grief with others across the political divide who have also experienced deep loss.  Participation in the delegation has also planted the seeds for a broad coalition of victims that could be critical in a longer-term reconciliation process.

[Author's Note:  Future posts will analyze the new Historical Commission on the Conflict and its Victims and the technical sub commission on the end of the conflict.]

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Has Colombia’s time come?

Ginny Bouvier:

Take a look at my piece at the Global Public Square of for a few thoughts on what lessons from other conflict zones might offer Colombia.

Originally posted on Global Public Square:

By Virginia M. Bouvier, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Virginia M. Bouvier is senior program officer for Latin America at the U.S. Institute of Peace and editor of Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War. The views expressed are the author’s own. 

With violence exploding in Gaza, airstrikes in Iraq, armed groups terrorizing Nigeria, Syrian extremism spilling into Lebanon, and the return of war in Sudan, the cause of peace can seem daunting. Closer to home, however, there is cause for hope.

Prospects for peace in Colombia are looking better than they have in years. If successful, the current peace process would put an end to an internal armed conflict that has lasted half a century. The conflict has taken the lives of some 200,000 Colombians, forcibly displaced 6 million more (granting Colombia the dubious honor of world record holder for the highest number of displaced), and…

View original 831 more words

Posted in Colombia | Leave a comment

Inauguration Day

7 August 2014

President Juan Manuel Santos is sworn in today for a second term.  Watch the inauguration ceremony live from Bogotá:

The Colombian Constitution requires the president to take office and be sworn in when the Congress is in full session.  Following the opening of today’s parliamentary session at 2 pm EST, the Congress adjourned to the Plaza Núñez, in an area between the Casa de Nariño and the Capitol, for the swearing-in ceremony.  Before more that 2,000 invited guests, including 128 delegations from 105 countries and 23 multilateral organizations, President Santos is expected to focus his inauguration speech on “national unity for peace,” and the need for internal and international support to advance an agenda for social change.  Santos’s first term was marked by an effort to launch and consolidate peace talks with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC-EP) and later the National Liberation Army (ELN).  Formal talks with the FARC have enjoyed steady advances and produced important agreements.  Talks with the ELN are still in an exploratory phase, which began in January of this year, produced an initial agreement, but have yet to develop into formal peace talks.  Santos’s first term was also marked by the passage of legislation to address the demands of victims and their claims for restitution of lands.  Today’s ceremony is expected to be marked by gestures and symbols of peace, including a hymn for peace.

New Congress Elected  

On July 20, 2014, as Colombians celebrated Independence Day (see my earlier reflections here),  the 102 Senators and 166 Representatives who were elected to the Colombian Congress last March 9 took office.  President Juan Manuel Santos urged the 2014-1018 Congress to make the necessary reforms so that it would become the “Congress of Peace” and initiate the post-conflict period in Colombia.

Indeed, if a peace accord is reached in the next four years (and there is every reason to assume it will be), this Congress will set in place the laws to regulate a range of related issues, including transitional justice benefits, political participation for demobilized excombatants, military privileges and jurisdiction and implementation of policies relating to other agreements reached in Havana, such as rural development, drug policy, and ratification mechanisms for the accords.  Indeed, the FARC and the ELN issued a joint communiqué calling on the new Congress to “make effective the constitutional right and obligation to peace” and to “move from rhetoric and empty words to a period of transition, in which the Congress of the Republic legislates for the entire Colombian society and not just privileged minorities.” (Read the communiqué here.)

“Peace must be adopted as a state policy, so that in the future no one will dare to reverse the eventual reconciliation accord,” noted Timoleón Jiménez (“Timochenko”) y Nicolás Rodríguez (“Gabino”), commanders of the FARC and the ELN respectively.  The communique recognized the complexity of the discussions around peace as a “challenge that we all hope to confront in order to have peace and social justice definitively.”

Before an audience that included Alvaro Uribe Vélez, exPresident and newly elected Senator for the Democratic Center party, Santos called on Colombia’s social and political forces to “make common cause in the search for peace,” and he set a conciliatory tone for the coming period, underscoring that as President he was elected to serve not just those who voted for him, but all Colombians (see Santos’s speech here.)

President Santos’s task will clearly be more challenging than it was in his first term, when Santos’s ruling coalition held 90% of the Senate and some 80% of the Congress.  The ruling coalition garnered 47 of the 102 seats in the newly elected Senate and 52% of the new Congress, thus Santos will need to make alliances to move his legislative agenda forward and overcome opposition from both the right and the left.  The Democratic Center party, headed by now-Senator Alvaro Uribe, holds  20 seats in the Senate and 18 in the House.  The Democratic Alternative Pole (PDA) holds 8 seats, and the Green Alliance has 11.  (See here.)  La Silla Vacía published a useful guide to the Members of Congress, including background on each member and graphics showing the political balance of power in each chamber (click here).

The press in recent days has made much of the possibility that ex-president Alvaro Uribe and the Senators and Representatives representing the Democratic Center party would boycott the inauguration ceremony. (See “Uribe no estaría en la posesión de Santos“.)  The most difficult decisions with respect to the peace process remain ahead for this next legislative period, and, as some have suggested, it will be more difficult to sustain peace with the ex-militants of armed groups if reconciliation between the politicians cannot be forged.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Video: Foro de Paz en Colombia

1 de agosto de 2014

Aquí va un artículo sobre el Foro de Paz en Colombia que se hizo en el Instituto de Paz de los Estados Unidos el 29 de julio de 2014 sobre “Propuestas de Paz de las Víctimas en el Conflicto Armado Interno en Colombia.”   El video de la conferencia que se ve abajo incluye la participación de:

  • Ginny Bouvier, U.S. Institute of Peace, Introducción
  • Gimena Sánchez, Washington Office on Latin America, Moderación
  • Luis Fernando Arias
    Secretario General, Organización Nacional de Indígenas de Colombia (ONIC)
  • José Antequera Guzmán
    Fundador, Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y Contra la Impunidad
  • Clara Rojas González (por video)
    Representante, Partido Liberal, Congreso Nacional de Colombia
  • Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, Conclusiones

Para más detalles del evento, haga clic aquí.

Para las biografías de los participantes, haga clic aquí.

Para la agenda, haga clic aquí


Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Avances importantes sobre tema de víctimas

27 julio 2014

En junio y julio, los delegados de paz del gobierno de Colombia y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC-EP) hicieron avances importantes en el tema de víctimas y las partes reconocieron el derecho de las víctimas a participar en el proceso de paz de manera directa.  (Ver mis últimos artículos sobre este tema aquí.)  Entre sus avances, produjeron una declaración conjunta de 10 principios para acercarse al tema de víctimas y una metodología para componer delegaciones de víctimas que participarán en la mesa en ciclos futuros.  Hace falta socializar y estudiar la declaración de principios que lanzaron el 7 de junio.  Representa un compromiso entre las partes, y ofrece un derrotero para toda la sociedad colombiana.  Leerla aquí o ver el video de la presentación desde la mesa en La Habana:

Derechos de las víctimas

La declaración de principios ofrece un marco conceptual visionario para el futuro de la paz y la reconciliación del país, sugiere acercamientos para discusiones difíciles, y propone un mecanismo valioso para la organización de las propuestas de las víctimas.  Compromete a las partes a reconocer a las víctimas no solo como víctimas, sino como ciudadanos con derechos. Al buscar restaurar sus derechos, empoderarlas como ciudadanos, y resarcirlas, les da la posibilidad de definirse y desarrollarse más allá de su victimización.  El resarcimiento en este contexto no es una caridad asistencial entregada por la bondad del responsable, sino el cumplimiento de una obligación.

En el comunicado conjunto del 7 de junio, las partes establecieron como norte de las discusiones la satisfacción de los derechos de las víctimas en el marco del conflicto, y se acordaron no “intercambiar impunidades.”  Humberto de la Calle, jefe de la delegación del gobierno en La Habana, reiteró el 25 de julio, “Los derechos de las víctimas no son negociables. Lo que vamos a discutir es cómo podemos …  satisfacer de la mejor manera posible los derechos de las víctimas a la verdad, la justicia, la reparación y la no repetición.” (Ver su declaración aquí.)


Como se ha visto en otros conflictos, las responsabilidades para las violaciones de los derechos humanos y el derecho humanitario internacional no se limita a los que tienen las armas sino abarca a todos los que planificaron, apoyaron, incitaron, o no pararon la violencia y las condiciones que la permitieron.  Todos–los medios de comunicación, las instituciones educativas, el sector judicial, los empresarios, las instituciones del Estado, las iglesias, el sector de seguridad, los partidos políticos, la sociedad civil, y la comunidad internacional–tenemos que examinar nuestras responsabilidades y nuestros actos de comisión u omisión. Como señaló De la Calle, “Es esencial que todos los sectores de la sociedad participen en este ejercicio fundamental de reconocimiento de responsabilidades.”

Hay responsabilidades a nivel institucional tanto como a nivel individual.  ¿Qué hicimos o no hicimos que causó daño?  ¿Cuáles son las imágenes que tenemos y que hemos propiciado del “otro”? ¿Qué podemos haber hecho para anticipar y prevenir la violencia?  ¿Qué podemos hacer cada uno de nosotros ahora para conocer la verdad y entender lo que pasó?  ¿Cómo podemos cambiar las condiciones de exclusión y marginalización que nutren la violencia y garantizar la protección de los derechos humanos de toda la ciudadanía en el presente y el futuro? ¿Cómo reparar a las víctimas y a la sociedad?

El reconocimiento de responsabilidades más amplias significa cuestionar cómo pensamos en las víctimas.  Nos pide restituirles agencia, voz, derechos, cuerpo, espacio, participación, dignidad, reparaciones, y justicia.  Eso nos requiere analizar nuestras actitudes, comportamientos, e ideologías–formadas y fomentadas, de manera consciente o inconsciente, por políticas públicas y privadas del Estado, por los medios, y por una cultura de guerra.  Des-estigmatizar a las víctimas requiere escucharlas, entenderlas y descubrir empatía hacia ellas.

Verdad, Justicia, y Reparación

En estos días, se reúnen miembros de los equipos del gobierno y de las FARC en La Habana para establecer las pautas y procesos para una comisión de esclarecimiento que producirá un informe para la Mesa.  El esclarecimiento de las causas, orígenes, y efectos del conflicto es “parte fundamental de la satisfacción de los derechos de las víctimas, y de la sociedad en general,” acordaron las partes en la declaración de principios.  Es un paso previo al reconocimiento de los daños hechos y de las responsabilidades.  “Conocer la verdad forma parte imprescindible del cumplimiento de la justicia y la reparación,” declaró de la Calle el 25 de julio.  La construcción de memoria histórica puede reconstruir la confianza, ayudar a sanar las relaciones rotas en 50 años de guerra, y anticipar medidas que pueden ofrecer garantías de no repetición.  Pero es un proceso no sólo para las partes sino para  toda la sociedad colombiana.


La declaración de principios reconoce que las partes en La Habana no pueden satisfacer los derechos de las víctimas sin una participación activa de las víctimas mismas en el proceso.  Reconoce que las víctimas tienen derecho a participar en la construcción conjunta de las medidas de satisfacción, y han abierto el proceso para mejor recibir las ideas e insumos de los más afectados.  

La participación de las víctimas en una capacidad oficial sin embargo tiene sus retos.  Medio siglo de conflicto ha producido más de 6,6 millones de víctimas registradas oficialmente con la Unidad de Víctimas del gobierno colombiano, y casi medio millón de refugiados que viven fuera de Colombia.  El universo de víctimas colombianas es heterogéneo, con un amplitud de hechos victimizantes y perpetradores responsables.  Las características y experiencias de las víctimas varían según región, tiempo, género, etnicidad, sector, religión y por edades.  Además, algunos grupos de víctimas son más organizados que otros, algunos son más reconocidos que otros, y hay grandes sectores de víctimas que no se han organizado.  (Ver más comentarios aquí.)

No todas las víctimas van a poder viajar a Cuba.  ¿Cómo, entonces, seleccionar a quién va? ¿Cuál será un formato adecuado? En su comunicado conjunto del 7 de junio, las partes anunciaron dos mecanismos nuevos  para la participación de las víctimas.  Primero, pidieron a las Naciones Unidas en Colombia y al Centro de Pensamiento y Seguimiento del Proceso de Paz de la Universidad Nacional convocar tres talleres regionales y un foro nacional para que las víctimas mismas pudieron presentar sus propuestas para la mesa.  En el mes de julio, las dos instituciones organizaron tres de estos foros–en Villavicencio, Barrancabermeja, y Barranquilla.  Están programando el foro nacional en Cali para principios de agosto.  (Sobre los foros, haga clic aquí.)  Los organizadores ya habían sistematizado foros previos sobre el desarrollo rural, la participación política, y los cultivos ilícitos.  Muchos de los insumos producidos en estos foros y en anteriores mesas regionales de consulta organizadas por las comisiones de paz en el Congreso colombiano parecen haber informado los acuerdos preliminares de la mesa sobre estos temas.

El segundo mecanismo anunciado es más directo y va en desarrollo.  En el comunicado del 7 de junio, invitaron a una delegación de víctimas a La Habana para participar en la discusión en la mesa.  Dejaron abierta la posibilidad de una participación mayor “por diferentes medios y en diferentes momentos.”  Diez días después, los negociadores anunciaron en un comunicado conjunto que recibirán a por lo menos una delegación de hasta 12 víctimas en cada uno de los próximos cinco ciclos de conversaciones. (Ver el comunicado  aquí.)  Presentaron algunos criterios para la organización de las delegaciones y la selección de los delegados.  Los delegados deben ser víctimas directas del conflicto armado.  “Los criterios principales para la selección de las delegaciones son el equilibrio, el pluralismo y la sindéresis, que se deben ver reflejados en la composición de cada una de las delegaciones,” instruye el comunicado. (Ver “Las víctimas se van a Cuba” aquí para algunas de los dilemas que se presenta la selección.)

Las partes solicitaron la asistencia técnica de las Naciones Unidas y la Universidad Nacional, “en consulta con diferentes asociaciones de víctimas del conflicto,” para facilitar la selección, y solicitaron de la Conferencia Episcopal de Colombia garantías para implementar los criterios acordados. Por supuesto estos dos mecanismos no son los únicos que están recogiendo propuestas, pero están ofreciendo un impulso para la organización de ideas, y en eso la declaración de principios y las delegaciones a La Habana tienen un rol importante.  En una declaración del 25 de julio, Humberto de la Calle notó que la Mesa de Conversaciones ya ha recibido cerca de cuatro mil propuestas sobre el tema de víctimas.  Solicitó a “todos los colombianos, pero especialmente a aquellos que han padecido el yugo de la violencia, que sigan enviando sus propuestas, sus ideas.”

Un nuevo modelo 

Con la decisión de integrar a las víctimas en el proceso de paz, Colombia entra en tierra incógnita.  Hay pocos antecedentes–en Colombia o en otras partes–donde se ha incluido las víctimas en una mesa nacional de negociaciones, y hay pocos lugares donde las víctimas se han organizado y presionado tanto para estar incluidas.

Uno siente que el proceso de paz en Colombia entra en una nueva fase.  Si bien la participación de las víctimas puede crear nuevos dilemas y talvez  expectativas difíciles de satisfacer, las ventajas potenciales son grandes.  Como reconoció de la Calle, “entre más aportes haya [de las víctimas], … mayor riqueza y legitimidad tendrán las discusiones y los acuerdos que logremos.”

Aparte de fortalecer la legitimidad de un proceso que ha faltado de un acompañamiento robusto del público hasta hace poco, y de proveer insumos e ideas valiosos, la abertura de la mesa a las víctimas es ya una reparación simbólica que las dignifica.  Abrir un espacio para escuchar las voces de las víctimas ya comienza a sugerir un cambio en la dinámica de las relaciones de guerra.  Además, ofrece un modelo de resolución de conflictos que se caracteriza por la inclusión del dañado en el diseño de la solución.  Este padrón, bien implementado y con capacidad de réplica, podrá prevenir y reducir la violencia en el futuro, así contribuyendo a las garantías de la no repetición.    

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foro de Víctimas en Washington, D.C. (con opción virtual)

25 de julio de 2014

Miembros de las delegaciones de paz del gobierno colombiano y de las FARC y sus equipos se reúnen de nuevo en La Habana mañana para continuar las preparaciones de una comisión histórica del conflicto y sus víctimas, una comisión de genero, y una comisión que adelanta el trabajo sobre el último tema de la agenda, el fin del conflicto, dijo hoy Humberto de la Calle, jefe de la delegación del gobierno.  (Ver su declaración  aquí.)  Se espera iniciar otro ciclo de conversaciones en La Habana el 11 de agosto, durante el cual se recibirá la primera delegación de víctimas, como acordado en junio.

Foro de Paz sobre Colombia en Washington, D.C.

El próximo martes, 29 de julio, la Oficina en Washington para asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA), el Fondo de Educación del Grupo de Trabajo para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (LAWGEF), y el Instituto de Paz de los Estados Unidos (USIP) ofrecen un foro público sobre propuestas de paz de las víctimas del conflicto colombiano, el tema que está ahora bajo consideración en la mesa de conversaciones.  Los participantes incluyen a:

  • Clara Rojas González (para confirmar)
    Representante, Congreso Nacional de Colombia
  • Luis Fernando Arias
    Secretario General, Organización Nacional de Indígenas de Colombia (ONIC)
  • José Antequera Guzmán
    Fundador, Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y Contra la Impunidad

Por unos problemas globales del sistema de computadores, Deyis Margarita Carmona Tejada, vocera de la Asamblea Campesina del Cesar por la Restitución de Tierras y el Buen Vivir, no pudo lograr la visa a tiempo, así no va a poder acompañarnos.

El foro será transmitido en vivo en español el día del evento en:, de 9 a.m.- 11 a.m. (hora colombiana)/10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (hora de Washington, D.C.).   Para más información sobre los panelistas y para confirmar su asistencia al evento, por favor haga clic aquí.  

Les invito a participar en la discusión via Twitter en el #ColombiaPeaceForum.

(To view the invitation in English, please click here.) 

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment