António Guterres: interview and details of his visit to Colombia – Peace Process – Politics

António Guterres: interview and details of his visit to Colombia – Peace Process – Politics
António Guterres: interview and details of his visit to Colombia – Peace Process – Politics

In an interview with EL TIEMPO, the UN Secretary General, António GuterresHe reiterated the confidence of the international community in the peace process with the FARC, which he described as “very successful.”

(You can read: A day full of gestures of peace on the anniversary of the agreement)

After a visit of just over two days that took him to know on the ground in Urabá the conditions in which the demobilized people live, and to meet with representatives of civil society, President Iván Duque, and the heads of the comprehensive system to peace, Guterres affirmed that sectors that oppose or are critical of the agreement “They are much less influential than four years ago.”

(We recommend: ‘Nothing can justify violence in Colombia’: António Guterres)

In that sense, it offered the support of the United Nations to whoever becomes President of Colombia in 2022. “You have to invest in peace,” he said.

He also warned that Colombia and the world are pending compliance with the veterans with the commitments of truth, justice and reparation and pointed out that “jail” should be the destination for those who do not comply.

(We recommend our special: 5 years later, peace with the Farc is still not felt in some regions)

What is the balance that you found of the implementation of the Peace Agreement?

The most important thing is that the peace process is alive. The implementation of the Peace Agreement, which has many problems, delays and faces security challenges, as we see with the attacks and assassinations of civil society leaders or former combatants, is advancing with all these difficulties. There are a significant number of ex-combatants who are joining. There are a significant number of victims with whom there is a prospect of effective support.

Today I was able to verify that the transitional justice institutions are active. We had an important meeting with the president of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Eduardo Cifuentes) and with the president of the Republic (Iván Duque). There are conditions to improve and accelerate the processes and the attribution of sanctions.

I found great determination from the President and different elements of the administration to accelerate investment in all areas that are problematic, in a country that still has many areas without an effective presence of the State.

I am optimistic, the process is alive, much has been done, there are many complicated challenges, implementation difficulties in different areas, but Colombia today is a symbol of peace in the world. The fundamental message of Colombia is: in a world in which there are geopolitical divisions, endless conflicts, multiplication of new wars; Colombia says this is the time to invest in peace.

Mr. Secretary, in Colombia, five years later, there is still a strong controversy about the success or not of the process, the conditions under which the end of the war was agreed with the Farc, former president Álvaro Uribe even sent a communication to you with your impressions, Which Is your message to those sectors that are skeptical, if not critical, of the peace process in Colombia?

Colombia is a democracy. In Colombia there are different opinions, as it happens in all democracies. But the truth is that when I think about the electoral campaign of four and a half years ago, and I verify what is happening in Colombia today, I think that the consensus on the peace process was very substantially lengthened. I think that the voices that legitimately have a contrary position have today, the analysis that I was able to do, a less strong influence than what (was evidenced) in the last electoral campaign when I was here visiting the former president Santos, at the beginning of my mandate as general secretary.

Precisely, next year Colombia will elect a President of the Republic. What is the message of the United Nations to that person who arrives at Nariño’s house regarding the implementation of the peace process?

First of all, a message of solidarity and availability, we are at the service of Colombia. We have no agenda, our agenda is the Colombian people, their well-being, peace, the end of violence. We are totally at the disposal of the new administration.

Second, we believe that it is in Colombia’s interest for that administration to continue the implementation of the peace agreement and, to the extent possible, accelerate the different processes and improve the protection mechanisms for people threatened by violence. This naturally also implies fighting with determination the armed groups that are still in the country and in very clear connection, many of them, with drug trafficking.

Do you believe, Mr. Secretary, that peace in Colombia is possible with levels of drug trafficking, coca crops as large as those that exist today and armed groups (dissidents, the Eln, gangs) such as those that are operating in Colombia?

I think those are real difficulties. I do not expect a miracle for tomorrow, but if we compare the situation today with the situation that I experienced in Colombia more than ten years ago, at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I have to say that there are reasons to be hopeful.

Colombia’s neighborhood is complex, problematic. Many Colombian armed groups are on the other side of the border, particularly in Venezuela, is it also possible to think of a peace or prompt security for Colombia with the situation that exists in Venezuela, of denouncing coexistence with illegal armed groups on behalf of the Maduro government?

It is naturally a difficulty, but I believe that the Colombian security forces will also progressively have a more effective presence in the territory, even in the areas furthest from the center: borders, the Pacific, and others where violence continues to be a serious problem.

The mandate of the United Nations Mission in Colombia was expanded and compliance with the penalties of transitional justice will also be verified.What exactly is going to be done there and how important is it that those penalties imposed transitional justice are met?

The system is an innovative one, very interesting. I would like it to be repeated in other countries. But there are sanctions that are sanctions with a set of conditions of retribution and service to the community or service even to the people who were victims, reparation with the victims. That requires an implementation mechanism.

In what I had the opportunity to discuss today with the president of the JEP and with President Duque is how to create conditions, because that has an implementation mechanism that is much more difficult than putting a person in jail. And naturally when the conditions defined in the peace accords are not met, because people who do not recognize what they have done or who do not tell the truth are in jail there. But those that have a clear process of repentance and truth, and that will have retribution sanctions, that implies an implementation mechanism, and today I was very optimistic about the determination of this side of the jurisprudence and of the Presidency that they are going to create the conditions to make justice work as quickly as possible and for the people and victims to see the sanctions.

Finally, Secretary, with the advances in transitional justice, do you think that the ghost that perhaps haunted Colombia from the ICC no longer makes any sense, should it no longer scare Colombians?

But the Court has already decided that it does not need to act because Colombian institutions are capable of solving the problem. The International Criminal Court is a supplementary court, which only acts when it does not have confidence in the capacity of the country’s institutions. I believe that Colombia is a strong State, with the difficulties that we know in the peripheral areas, but it is strong and that today it has a justice system in which, I believe, the ICC trusts.

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