Panelists discussed aspects of the Colombia Peace Process, after viewing the film “Port of Destiny:Peace” about the Nobel Peace Prize winning president of Colombia. Linda Stamato, co-director of the CNCR, made the following observations:
The peace agreement that the Colombian government and the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, originally presented to the people of Colombia did not offer a choice between peace and justice. Rather, the agreement looked to spare the nation the emotional and financial costs of retribution and to create an investment by the rebels in a stable and durable peace.
Rather than focusing on the past, particularly on punishing the rebel fighters — amnesty was to be granted to some but not to those guilty of grave crimes — the plan embraced the future.
Offering seats in the country’s legislature to the rebels is not a reward but an intelligent investment that broadens political participation in the new postwar democracy.
An insight attributed to Confucius is sadly relevant to the rejection of the agreement: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” There are enough graves in Colombia. After 50 years, the nation deserves peace.
Having returned to the negotiating table, and producing a second agreement, the nation is trying to move forward but, under new leadership that has less of a commitment to the peace accords negotiated by the prior president, there is concern that the insurgency may start again, setting back the nation on its path to recreating the nation.
There are many lessons to learn from the Colombia peace process, not least that reaching agreement is the beginning of a process, not the end, and that implementation of agreement terms is just as difficult, if not more than reaching agreement in the first place.