Five years ago the rifles of more than 13,000 guerrillas who were part of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were silenced, closing a cycle of violence of more than half a century that left millions of victims.

The commemoration of the peace agreement between the Colombian State and the FARC took place on Wednesday in Colombia with the participation of the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, within the institutions created to seek justice and reparation: the Special Jurisdiction for La Paz (JEP), the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search for Persons Presumed Disappeared.

Guterres arrived in Colombia to send a message of encouragement for the continuity of the peace agreement, which has at least 10 years left to fully implement.

“This anniversary provides an opportunity to celebrate achievements of the implementation of the final peace agreement, recognize the challenges it faces, and renew our collective commitment to fulfill its promise to build a stable and lasting peace,” Guterres said.

In their own voice, the victims of the conflict demanded reparation. Diana Sofía Martínez, who has been searching for her father Edwin Martínez for 20 years -when he was detained by the FARC-, said she was tired of the bureaucracy that wears away the victims, that the disappearance events continue to occur and that they are “more and more far away ”the guarantees of the State to make the leap to the post-conflict, although it was confident in finding the 100,000 disappeared.

The peace agreement in Colombia suffered a setback before its launch in 2016. Then-President Juan Manuel Santos decided to put it to a vote to give it citizen validity. However, the results were negative: 50.2% voted for No and 49.7% for Yes, showing a division that continues in a sector of the population after five years.

In a letter addressed to Guterres and released on Wednesday, former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), leader of the Democratic Center and the main opponent of the agreements signed with the FARC, reiterated his position. “There has not been a peace agreement. The national legislation was simply fractured and the international one was challenged by giving total impunity and political eligibility to people responsible for atrocious crimes, for example, kidnapping and rape of minors ”, he indicated.

Former President Santos (2010-2018) referred to said opposition at the event: “The peace train that so many have wanted to stop is continuing its course.” He indicated that although a good part of the agreement is still to be implemented, the balance after five years is positive, an example of this – in his opinion – is that 95% of the ex-combatants continue in the law and only a minority has deserted to commit crimes.

By signing the agreement with the government, the defunct FARC availed themselves of a transitional justice system in which they promised to provide the truth about crimes against humanity and war in exchange for a sanction that must be consulted with the victims and may include restrictions. effective freedom without jail. However, those appearing who do not recognize the truth or do so late could serve up to 20 years in prison.

“We insist on apologizing to the victims. The understanding of their pain grows in us daily and fills us with grief and shame, ”said Rodrigo Londoño, the last head of the FARC and now the leader of the political party that they formed. “These years have not been easy due to the incessant attacks against the agreement and the lack of will of the State … even so, nothing and no one can undermine our conviction that the path taken is the correct one,” he added.

Guterres assured that so far the peace court has made “historical indictments for war crimes” and urged support for the transitional justice system. This year the leadership of the former FARC was charged with the kidnapping of 21,300 people and more than 20 soldiers were charged with the extrajudicial executions of civilians who passed off as guerrillas defeated in combat.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, congratulated Colombia on behalf of his country through an official message. He highlighted the demobilization of former combatants and the work to transform the areas affected by the conflict in Colombia, as well as the commitment to include 16 seats in Congress for victims in the next legislative elections. “Colombia has made significant progress and the United States will continue to support the implementation of the Agreement,” Blinken said.

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