UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday expressed concern at the risk posed by “enemies of peace” in Colombia, which is marking the fifth anniversary of peace accords that ended a nearly six-decade conflict.
On the same day, the US government notified the US Congress that it is to remove the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, which laid down its arms after the deal, from its official terror group designation.
US Department of State spokesman Ned Price said that the peace process in Colombia was “something that we have sought at every step of the way to preserve.”
Yesterday was five years since the Colombian government and Marxist guerrillas of the FARC signed a deal to end Latin America’s longest-running internal conflict.
Guterres accompanied Colombian President Ivan Duque on a visit to Dabeiba, a mountainous, rural municipality in the northern Antioquia Department to see first-hand “the achievements of peace.”
He visited a reintegration facility at Llano Grande, where several former FARC combatants live with their families, seeking to rejoin civilian life by learning new skills.
“Every day they renew their commitment to build a country in peace,” Guterres said. “They know better than anyone that peace is not built overnight. This requires effort, tenacity, to build and preserve.”
About 13,000 guerrillas have surrendered their arms since 2016, but violence persists in many regions of Colombia where dissidents continue to fight paramilitary and rebel groups, and drug traffickers in the world’s largest cocaine producer.
Nearly 300 former FARC fighters have been killed in the past five years.
“Unfortunately, there are enemies of peace,” Guterres said, calling for the rights of ex-combatants, civic leaders and human rights defenders to be guaranteed.
“We need to redouble our efforts to ensure the sustainability of [reintegration] projects with technical and financial support, land and housing,” he said.
Guterres met former FARC fighters, including Rodrigo Londono, who assured the head of the UN that “despite the fact that nearly 300 signatories [of the peace accords] have been killed, we remain committed to the road taken five years ago.”
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