The event looked at the challenges and difficulties in the implementation of the peace agreements with representatives from civil society, trade unions, political parties as well as a legal advisor to the FARC-EP Peace Delegation.
Other topics discussed included the protection for victims of violence – in light of the emergence of new paramilitary groups – and EU policy towards peace in Colombia, with presence of a European Commission representative.
GUE/NGL MEP Tania González – Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Andean Community – focussed on the issue of land rights in Colombia:
“With only five per cent of land restored to their rightful owners, it is necessary to look into the role of European multinationals that maintain relations with paramilitary groups and foment an extractive model in the country. The implementation of the Havana agreements must include the return of land appropriated by paramilitary groups to the victims.”
The Spanish MEP warned against the emergence of new paramilitary groups and the need for the EU to support efforts to protect communities facing violence:
“In recent weeks, we have seen with our own eyes that paramilitary groups are still active in Colombia and groups like the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia and Águilas Negras are occupying the areas where the FARC was present. We believe that the Colombian state must acknowledge the existence of paramilitary groups and dedicate more resources to combat them.”
“The EU must continue to support the peace process in Colombia and the effective implementation of the agreements to put an end to violence against human rights defenders and community leaders,” González added.
GUE/NGL MEP João Pimenta – Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly – stressed the need for a concerted effort to make workable the peace agreement including the disarmament of paramilitary groups:
“The Havana agreements set a cornerstone for peace in Colombia. Peace, however, must be made in practice and not only in writing. Difficult challenges lay ahead to fulfil this long-awaited aspiration of the Colombian people.”
“The government's commitment is absolutely necessary for its success. Conditions must be created for the full integration of FARC-EP members in Colombia's civil and political life. Firm action must be taken to dismantle the active paramilitary groups that are spreading terror among the population and targeting political activists, whose numerous deaths must have accountability.”
The Portuguese MEP urged the adequate use of EU funds to support local communities:
“The EU's support through the fiduciary fund must be duly monitored as it should be used to support development for indigenous communities, and not to finance multinational agro-businesses to take over land for their advantage and exploitation.”
Spanish MEP Marina Albiol – another critic of the EU’s current role – accused Brussels of putting the interests of business ahead of the Colombian people:
“The EU has been absent during the peace process in Colombia. Neither Juncker nor Mogherini was present in the signing ceremony in Cartagena. They are now more interested in making business than in supporting the implementation of the peace agreements.”
“Brussels is promoting business in Colombia using the peace agreement as an excuse and this policy is contributing to the increasing impunity. For instance, the trust fund must only be used for implementing the peace agreements and not to make business.”
Albiol expressed concern at the lack of action to stop the killings on the ground:
“Thirty trade unionists and human rights activists have been murdered by paramilitary forces since the peace agreement was reached. The vast majority were members of Marcha Patriótica – an organisation that is being prosecuted just like Unión Patriótica before them,”Albiol concluded.