|Colombia on the road to peace|
Yesterday was the last day of fighting in the world's longest war.
We celebrate the signing of the official cease-fire yesterday between the Colombian government and the FARC guerillas. Colombia's internal conflict officially started in the 1960s, with roots back to the 1940s. As well as being the oldest, it has been the most fatal, with far more deaths and disappearances than any other war in the Americas. A recent report by the official Historical Memory Commission put the conflict related deaths at 220,000 - but even members of the commission considered that to be an extreme undercount because of the danger of reporting deaths. The number of people disappeared is also quite contentious, even between government agencies, but may be around 75,000.
So we celebrate that the parties have signed the cease-fire and are close to signing the full peace agreement that they have been negotiating in Havana, Cuba for the past four years. Yet we mourn that this war happened in the first place and the role that the US has repeatedly played in escalating the conflict, from advising the government to form paramilitaries back in the 1960s, to flooding the country with billions of dollars in military aid, to training more than 10,000 Colombian soldiers at the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC).
Now we need to pressure the US to instead support what will be a delicate transition, and to end its policy of pushing for "military solutions". This will be the largest guerilla force that has ever demobilized in the Americas, and they are going to do it much faster than has ever been done before, in a context where there are still large numbers of armed paramilitaries who want to attack them. It's going to be a delicate process that will need a lot of support.
We know that peace does not come overnight, and that far too many peace accords fail in the implementation phase. As we celebrate this landmark step for peace in the hemisphere, let us renew our commitment. In this post-accords period Colombians will need our solidarity more than ever!
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