A coalition to save Colombia peace

The proposal of Colombia’s chief peace negotiator to organize an”enormous” extra-congressional coalition and save the country’s endangered peace process was well supported in Congress, local media reported.

Former negotiator Humberto de la Calle claims that a coalition, not only in Congress, but of peace advocates and grass-roots organizations must come together to rescue the peace process from utter demise.

“I think it is pertinent and timely to take the initiative to work for the largest, most comprehensive and flexible alliance to reach fundamental agreements on how to implement the peace agreements as soon as possible,” Senator Ivan Cepeda of the Marxist Democratic Police party stated.

De la Calle’s proposal would most likely include the U Party, the Liberals, Radical Change, the Polo, Citizen Option and “the greens,” whom have been proponents of the peace process, which has come under threat after the Constitutional Court surprisingly rewound its full approval of the peace deal.

Several political representatives have come out in support of his plan with Liberal senator Luis Fernando Velasco reaffirming the importance of a “sustainable coalition” that will prevent the terms of the agreement being thorn apart piece by piece.

Senator Roy Barreras of President Juan Manuel Santos‘ U Party declared that he was “in total agreement” with the proposal put forward by de la Calle claiming that “the coalition he advocates is indispensable.”

Barreras considers the coalition to be of huge importance ahead of the 2018 presidential election to ensure that the agreement, which brought an end to more than half a century of conflict is not hijacked and sabotaged by those opposed to it.

Regardless of the candidate and the party that represents the coalition, Barrera believes that the interests of those seeking a future for Colombia that is based on the principle of peace must be protected.

De la Calle’s call for comes in the aftermath the shock retraction of the Constitutional Court of the so-called fast-track mechanism that was included in the peace deal in December to legally protect the government and the FARC’s compliance to the pact.

The court ruling has essentially thrown the peace process up in the air opening the door for congress to reject parts of the peace deal that are already being executed, potentially undoing years of international negotiations.

The government’s chief negotiator described the decision as “serious” and “deceptive” considering it to be a “profound mistake” on the part of the court.

Hernan Penagos of the U Party thought de la Calle’s issued his support believing it to be a “correct assessment,” praising the call on society to accompany the agreement.

While de la Calle’s proposal has been widely welcomed, Colombia’s opposition has inevitably slated the idea with Senator Alfredo Rangel accusing him of seeking “a great coalition to defend impunity and all the concessions he made to the FARC.”

The latest decision by the Constitutional Court places the whole peace process at a very dangerous juncture in that it seriously compromises the ability of the Santos administration to deliver on the implementation of the peace accords.

The process has already been fiercely resisted by a hard-right minority opposition centered around former President Alvaro Uribe and his Democratic Center party, powerful dissident elements within the military, paramilitary groups, ELN guerrillas and drug traffickers alike.

When the government failed to deliver peace in 1985, it marked the beginning of a political genocide. After the AUC demobilized in 2006, 2,000 paramilitaries were assassinated. If Santos also fails, the consequences too could be disastrous.

Colombia Reports | Stephen Gill 

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