NewsLatin AmericaPetro wants peace to be law in a country of victims

Petro wants peace to be law in a country of victims

The Minister of the Interior (c), Alfonso Prada, files the bill, this Tuesday in Congress.rrss

With families still burying the dead of a bloody past weekend, the new government takes another step in its intention to pacify a country that has never known more than war. The Minister of the Interior, Alfonso Prada, filed his bill in Congress on Tuesday to achieve what President Gustavo Petro calls “total peace.” Placing peace as a state policy, the first point of the text, is a risky bet for a country that knows all types of violence. So far this year, and only according to official figures, there have been 72 massacres, four in recent days.

Petro wants to structure all his government action around this immense challenge, which until now none of his predecessors has achieved. The search for peace has been a presidential obsession for decades, but progress, especially around 1991 with agreements with various guerrillas such as the M-19 and in 2016 after the signing of peace with the FARC, is followed by setbacks. For decades the country has lived with violence, which today bears the signature of the ELN guerrillas, drug traffickers and the FARC dissidents. To subdue crime, the Government proposes the creation of a social service for peace that could be an alternative to military service, according to the document advanced by Time. Pending its operation, those who sign up for the program could work for a year in literacy programs, with victims or in environmental protection.

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All the ministries -and in Colombia there are 18- will have a space dedicated to peace, with meetings every two months to evaluate the concretion of what has been achieved. Among the most controversial points, and which will surely be the subject of discussions in Congress, is the location of members of the armed organizations during the negotiation processes in certain areas within the country, in which arrests and arrest warrants will be temporarily suspended. .

That was the logic used in the past, and with mixed success, by other leaders such as Ernesto Samper, Andres Pastrana and Alvaro Uribe. Only the leader of the Democratic Center managed to conclude an agreement within the country with the paramilitaries, but the attempts of Samper and Pastrana with the guerrillas failed. Santos therefore decided to transfer the negotiation to Cuba and, except at the end of the process, never suspended military actions within the country. Petro seeks a negotiation with the involvement of the territories, one of the historical demands of the ELN, for which he is convinced of recovering what are known as demilitarized zones. The ELN is the last active guerrilla in the country, with which a negotiation has never come to fruition.

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When presenting the project in Congress, Prada stressed that “it incorporates for the first time in Colombian legislation the concept of human security as a path to total peace.” This bill is not new. In reality, it is an extension of a 1997 rule that, since then, empowers presidents to negotiate with armed groups. Each president makes his own tweaks and must pass it through Congress for approval.

The Petro Government recovers something that Santos has already done so that the ongoing processes do not die in the event that the end of a mandate is reached. “That the peace processes that are underway link the following governments in the continuity of what is a constitutional right and duty, such as the search for peace, which is not the exclusive power of a Government, but a constitutional policy and of State”, Prada has said.

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