Understanding the Peace Processes in Colombian Society

This comment is a continuation of the YIRA Winter 2016 International Trip Group’s Bogotá, Colombia Trip Summary.

The research conducted during our visit to Bogotá taught me about the space that the peace process occupies in the public imagination. The current negotiations with the FARC continue to be polarizing within Colombian society. Many people wanted to see ex FARC members punished, though this will not necessarily be the case. Another point of contention in the negotiations is related to the FARC’s future role in government. The very existence of the FARC and of leftist guerilla groups has made Colombia politically conservative and instilled a certain weariness of anything related to the left. This weariness has caused progressive and left leaning political groups to continuously attempt to disassociate themselves from the FARC. Though some people believe that the negotiations will alleviate the stigmatization of leftist movements, others strongly reject the idea of any FARC political participation.

In general, the media supports the peace process and has perpetuated a narrative of forgiveness, which will be important in terms of transitional justice. Though many people would have liked to see FARC members punished for crimes committed during the conflict, many understand that the majority will go unpunished even if there will be no blanket amnesty. There is however, a general expectation that former FARC members will play a role in rebuilding the regions that were destroyed in the conflict. The negotiations also call for the establishment of a truth commission, yet Colombians are skeptical about how much new information it will actually yield.  All together, these concerns have made the peace agreements a development that will pass the plebiscite, but that will not be whole-heartedly embraced nationally, at least initially.

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