Representatives of the organisation Colombians for Peace will visit Britain this week to meet with political leaders and will discuss possible imminent solutions to the conflict in their country.
Colombia has continued to suffer from internal conflict since the late 1940s. This conflict is between the government, armed forces, and paramilitary and guerilla groups including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC*) and the National Liberation Army (ELN**).
This war has caused thousands of deaths, mostly of innocent citizens who have never picked up a weapon. This is a war in which nobody is blameless, and where the profits of war benefit only a select few.
Drug traffickers have also played a role, a very active and bloody role that has affected everyone involved.
With the conflict still in force, Colombian citizens want a better future for their country, a country that has been declared one of the most dangerous places on earth.
Recently, the release of ten military hostages held captive by the FARC opened up hope of a possible dialogue between the government and the guerillas. The current government, led by Juan Manuel Santos, has shown its willingness to do so, although politicians on the extreme right do not look kindly on such peace talks.
Coinciding with this movement, the organisation of Colombians for Peace, on behalf of the Colombian people, has begun a campaign to raise awareness of their situation to the world, because according to the organisation the conflict in Colombia is ignored by the international media.
Their campaign will begin in the UK under the theme “Learning from Northern Ireland. Is peace close for Colombia?”.
Members of Colombians for Peace will meet with figures including the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness; as well as the five major parties in the Northern Ireland Parliament. They will also meet with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, as well as a number of other politicians.
Iván Cepeda, Colombian congressman will travel to the UK for the meetings, so will Marleny Orjuela and Carlos Lozano from Colombians for Peace and Asfamipaz.
Colombians for Peace will visit Belfast, Dublin and London for the week beginning the 20th and ending on the 25th of May.
The organisation has chosen the UK to begin their campaign because of the peace process in Northern Ireland, which has been suggested as a valuable lesson for them to learn.
In fact, Justice for Colombia, the British NGO, is responsible for bringing Colombians for Peace to the country.
For more information visit the website: http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/
(Translated by Grace Essex: firstname.lastname@example.org)
* Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia
** Ejército de Liberación Nacional