From day one, the quiet work of a man was instrumental in the Peace Agreements in Colombia. Such work contributed to the history of Colombia, where the oldest guerrilla in the world had become one of the major players in the armed conflict endured by this South American nation. He received an important international award.
At the start of October, Marc Solsona Aixala, mayor of Mollerussa (in Catalonia), sent a letter to the Colombian economist, Henry Acosta Patiño, more commonly known as ‘The Facilitator’ for his mediation between the guerrilla the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) and the Colombian government.
The letter announced that he had been awarded the Ànima Abba Melaku prize “for his work as facilitator of the peace in Columbia” and it would be an honour if he could attend the award ceremony which will take place in Mollerussa. It is anticipated that approximately 600 people will be attending including the missionary, Ángel Olaran, members of the judging panel and other leading figures. He was also invited to sign the City’s Guest book, to talk with the media and to attend the private reception in the town hall.
Henry Acosta Patiño will travel to Catalonia to receive the fourth edition of this prize on 15 November which was created by the Mollerussa Town Hall (in Lleida, Catalonia) and the Ángel Olaran Centre for Solidarity Initiatives.
It is awarded annually to a person, institution or group who has made a significant contribution “in the field of solidarity or in the search for peace on an international scale”.
And Acosta Patiño has met these criteria. In carrying out his discreet, quiet work without political noise or media attention for 15 years, he acted as a facilitator for the peace process in Colombia between 2002 and 2017.
He was the negotiator in the shadows. He was, as his book describes, “The Key Man”, the bridge between the government and the guerrilla, he managed discussions and meetings which ended in the signing of the peace agreement.
It is therefore a well-deserved award for someone who “wasn’t looking for fame, glory or power” and who played a key role in the peace process. The Peace Agreement were signed on 26 September 2016 between Juan Manuel Santos’ government and FARC (Today FARC is a legally formed political party).
Even though these agreements have been recognised internationally as one of the best achievements in the context of territories in conflict, today, their implementation, as well as their terms generally, have been attacked by the far-right Democratic Centre party and others opposing the agreement. Opponents of the process have created divisions, killed hundreds of ex-guerrillas and persecuted its defenders.
Acosta Patiño considers the following as opponents of the FARC-EP and Colombian State peace process: present government, the Democratic Centre party, the armed dissidents of the FARC Party, landowners, many companies, politicians and members of the Military Forces.
And he claims that the peace agreement “does not have a positive solution”. It has many opponents and every day the situation becomes more critical. I don’t see how it can be saved, it was the same process with the National Liberation Army (ELN), which is also in a state of crisis.
Henry Acosta sounds pessimistic, but so are millions of Colombians. They know that everything that has been achieved so far hangs on the will of the present government and its political and business class.
(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos supplied and authorised for publication, by Henry Acosta