Chocoano Thoughts on the Peace Accords, Peace and Justice in Colombia (Part I of III)

We came to Colombia when the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels were taking place in Cuba. As foreigners who were going to live and serve in the communities that have been affected by armed conflicts, it was really important to understand Colombia’s political history and its current political climate.

During our orientation in Bogota, we got exposed to the history of armed groups in Colombia; their conflicts with the Colombian government; and the road to reconciliation, peace-building and community restoration. The topic on Colombia’s peace talks seemed to be particularly relevant in part because the hallmark of Mennonite Central Committee’s work is peace-building.

The road to reconciliation included peace-talks with only one armed group, that is, the FARC and the Colombian government, despite the presence of multiple armed groups in Colombia. Some of the issues that were at the center of these peace talks, according of one of our orientation presenters, included integrated rural development, political participation, economic alternatives for farmers, victims economic reparations, and disarmament – to mention just a few.

After almost four years of negotiating, deadlocks, and disappointments for both parties, the content of the peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government was finalized on August 24, 2016. Indeed reaching this agreement was a landmark in Colombia’s political history, and it was celebrated both domestically and internationally.

After the peace negotiations were concluded, it was determined that there will be a national plebiscite on October 2, 2016 in which the general public is to vote on whether they accept the peace deal or not. The results of the referendum will determine a democratic and political course of action for all Colombians. Since we are currently serving and living in Chocó, this context led us to wonder: What does the general peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government mean to Chocoanos? And what does it mean to the church in Chocó?

We explored these questions by interviewing seven community members in Chocó on the peace process and the plebiscite. Their responses are included in Part II of this blog, which will be published next week.

Written by: Brendah Ndagire, Carrie Vereide, & Daniel Christie

 

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