International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Colombia Struggles to Negotiate Peace Deal

Colombia's President Santos speaks at the presidential palace in BogotaColombian President Juan Manuel Santos sat down with Reuters yesterday to discuss the progress made between the state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the more than two year-long peace talks attempting to end conflict in the country. The war in Colombia, which began fifty-one years ago, has killed more than 220,000 people. The talks, which are taking place in Cuba, have gone further recently than they had previously. Unfortunately, they’ve stalled since the groups broached the subject of transitional justice.

“The bottom line is transitional justice. The guerillas have said they won’t go to jail, they don’t want to submit to transitional justice, but amnesties of yesteryear are no longer possible,” Santos told Reuters. As we’ve discussed in class, these measures could include truth commissions or reparations, depending on the circumstances. In the case of Colombia, the country’s justice system could allow the peace talks to discuss the possibility of alternatives to jail time like house arrest or community service. According to President Santos, nothing is off the table. “We want the maximum justice that allows us to achieve peace.”

The peace talks in Cuba have centered on the FARC’s future role in the political landscape of Colombia, the end to the illegal drug trade in the country, agricultural reform, reparations for the victims of human rights abuses and atrocities, and the demobilization of the rebel forces. Many Colombians are split between those who support Santos’s efforts to end the war and broker peace with the rebels and those who believe the President has already made too many concessions with the FARC.

This leaves many actors in the international community wondering–at what point has the government given too much to the rebels? Is there any point where that can be said in the pursuit of peace?


One response to “Colombia Struggles to Negotiate Peace Deal

  1. eap2017 April 11, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    In a response to President Santos’s words on their current peace talks, the FARC demonstrate no sign of wavering on their position against serving jail time. Their reasoning is grounded on the idea that the rebel group should not be tried under the “same judicial process for common criminals.” This ideology has very little credibility seeing as the group has committed crimes of the common criminal such as murder, rape, and drug trafficking. Regardless of their political motivations, based on these crimes the group is no better than a common gang. Thus, making claims that they are deserving of special judicial treatment is completely unreasonable.

    Santos has made it clear that no impunities will be granted for such crimes; however, his position on how the FARC will be punished sounds very open-minded and flexible. There have been partial accords met so far regarding land reform, illegal drug trafficking, and political participation for former rebels. However, real justice for the victims in the form reparations has yet to be agreed upon.

    It is clear that a long-lasting stability within the country is the ultimate goal for these negotiations, but it will be interesting to see how Columbia handles the punishment of the FARC. A 2005 attempt to demobilize 30,000 paramilitary through special agreements involving short sentences and reparations to victims resulted in failure, as many perpetrators did not uphold their end of the agreements. Hopefully these new negotiations will serve as an opportunity for Columbia to finally overcome its history of impunity.

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