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Colombia and Peace: the many issues

On a daily basis the news in Colombia reminds us of a reality in which we should have little optimism with regards to the future.

 

chocolate-de-paz-cortoJohn Elvis Vera S.

 

FIRST: The country has entered a new era in its history.This post-conflict stage is a result of the Peace Process between the government and the FARC insurgents, as well as the talks currently in progress with the ELN.

But whilst they welcome reconciliation, the leaders of the National Congress close their doors to a Peace event.

Those who wish to return to the days of war should welcome these alliances made with Congress, however criminal or foolish that may be.

SECOND: They propose electoral reform, but the interests and political malpractice of most congress members guarantees all possible obstacles to detract from their objective, returning to an electoral practice which is inclusive and transparent.

THIRD: At least 156 social leaders and human rights activists have been assassinated in the last 14 months. This is the continued extermination of those who fight for the creation of a new society and those who oppose injustice and inequality. If this continues, there cannot truly be peace.

FOURTH: Year after year, decade after decade, they rob thousands of millions of pesos (Colombian currency) from the Colombian people. Those who take this money are in the highest echelons of society. This so-called ‘white collar’ crime has been draining the public funds for its own benefit and that of its closest socio-political ties.

campamento-de-paz-colombia-librenetUnscrupulous civil servants who collude with those in the private sector have stolen from the country whilst impunity continues to exist. The Contralor Nacional (The Comptroller General) of Colombia speaks of up to 50 billion pesos lost to corruption each year.

Here are some of the examples of stolen money: El Guavio ($15,000 million), Foncolpuertos ($2.5 billion), Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes ($30,000 million), Interbolsa ($300,000 million), Carrusel de la Contratación en Bogotá ($2.2 billion), Saludcoop ($1.4 billion), Fidupetrol (500 million), Instalaciones Deportivas para los Juegos Nacionales en Ibagué ($154,000 million), Odebrecht (11.5 million dollars), Reficar ($6 thousand million dollars).

The list is endless. How much money has already been ‘lost’ in the construction of the dual carriageway Cajamarca-Calarcá and the tunnels needed for this route?

Paz paloma amanecer pixabAYFIFTH: At least 1,080,000 Colombian children were working in 2016. Casual work in the retail, hotel and restaurant industries has reached 65.8%. Of the 22 million of the country’s population that are in work, only 7.8 million benefit from social security and only 4% belong to a union. On top of this there are 2.5 million people who are unemployed!

We have yet to mention other such issues and in doing so we would become even more pessimistic: child abuse, femicide, political prisoners, forced migration, danger and urban violence, the hospital crisis, poor quality education, racial discrimination, etc.

So much to do and to change, as a people, a nation and a country. We have two paths in front of us going forward, but also many paths in the opposite direction. We must pay attention to these issues and to all of the facts.

(Translated by Francine Morgan – Email: f_s_morgan@yahoo.co.uk)

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