The vice president of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez, has accused ex-president Juan Manuel Santos of spending more money on public relations to promote the Havana agreement, which he signed in 2016 with the FARC guerrillas, than in the implementation of the agreement.
She also pointed out that provisions presented under the auspices of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace were the responsibility of the Santos Government.
“We (as opposition) had observations, we made them on time, and the truth is that we found an agreement that is already approved by Congress, which is already approved by the Constitutional Court, and the president has said all along: we will honor that commitment, above all, for all the people who demobilized and who have been fulfilling their obligations,” Ramírez told NTN24.
One of the criticisms of the Duque Government is that delays in implementation are due to political motives. During his presidential campaign, leftist politician Gustavo Petro has launched attacks on the president accusing him of imposing “obstacles” to the agreement. However, this has not been proven. Recently, Duque formulated six objections to the statute law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), objections that were not approved, so Duque sanctioned said law.
What the government has said is that two years after the signing of the agreement, its implementation is still lacking, which they attribute to a lack of resources. Although international cooperation has led to much foreign aid for Colombia, there are still insufficient funds to implement the agreement. The vice president pointed out that no budget remained for the necessary development of the agreement, and it was evident that there was not enough progress in terms of implementation.
At the beginning of the Duque administration, the Minister of the Interior, Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, said that “the government has indisputably found a great dispersion in the different instances that created the agreement, but the great concern is the lack of resources to be able to finance the commitments made.”
Financial managers involved in the agreement have also been questioned for alleged embezzlement and corruption. In April 2018, the Attorney General’s Office warned about a network of intermediaries with access to privileged information that could be directing post-conflict projects to employers or contractors, with an eye on avoid internal controls and audits. This case of corruption was noted in a letter from the ambassadors of Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland to the Ministry of Finance to convene a meeting to evaluate the resources of the Sustainable Colombia Fund.
Agreement problems: criminals as congressmen
Additionally, Ramírez further recalled the warnings of those who opposed the agreement from the beginning, since many of the predictions have come to pass. “Here we must recognize that we have some facts at hand, and that one of them is the participation of some members of the FARC in drug trafficking.”
In the agreement, it was established that any illegal activity that took place after December 2016 would be subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.
While some sectors of the so-called “peace bloc” argued prior to the implementation of the agreement that none of this would happen and that there would be no “impunity”, the case of the guerrilla leader Jesus Santrich has illustrated the deep flaws in the process.
Ex-president Santos was a great defender of this idea.
Queremos el fin de las FARC y su violencia? Entonces firmemos la paz #SantosPresidente
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) June 14, 2014
Do we want to put an end to the FARC and its violence? Then we will sign the peace agreement.
Although the Attorney General’s Office presented the evidence with which the United States accuses Santrich of drug trafficking, the JEP decided not to extradite the FARC guerrilla. Today he serves as a congressman and remains linked to a criminal process that is in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice.
However, from the point of view of the victims, political participation should never have been granted to members of the FARC, since they are currently congressmen without serving a single day in jail. The criminal records of members of the FARC, which has not yet been determined by the JEP, is extensive and varied, and includes convictions for murder, displacement, hostage-taking, torture, and the recruitment of minors. The crimes of which the FARC are guilty, beyond a shadow of a doubt, represent thousands of years of prison time.
Violence and drug cultivation
The vice president also clarified that the government of President Duque does not intend to hamper the agreement and that in the past governments “let down their guard in the fight against drug trafficking.”
Currently, Colombia faces a serious challenge in the “War on Drugs.” According to a report presented by the United Nations, Colombia ranks first as the leading producer of cocaine in the world. Coca cultivation in the country has steadily risen since 2013, from 48,000 hectares in 2013 to 171,000 in 2017, says the agency.
Ramírez said that the new trajectory of violence in Colombia is due to the multiplication of areas planted with coca: for this reason, in the territories where there are plantations there is a greater presence of irregular armed groups:
Here remnants of the FARC overlap with FARC dissidents, criminal groups, and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN).
With respect to the use of glyphosate as a tool in coca eradication, Ramírez indicated that the Duque Government is working on compliance with the requirements established by the Constitutional Court.
“We will continue in this fight using all the elements and all the agents that it is possible to use and that are acceptable within what is provided by the Constitutional Court.” The Government plans to resume aerial spraying in the month of July, as stated by President Duque during his visit to London.
Marta Lucía Ramírez, is the first woman to occupy the position of vice president of Colombia. She has also served as Minister of Defense and Minister of Commerce, and in 2014 she was a candidate for the presidency, running with the backing of the Conservative Party.