Colombia | Update from the field

In this Skype conversation direct from Bogotá, our global associate Lissette takes us through the recent strides made to end the 50 year conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Lissette gave us her perspective of what the negotiations mean to her as someone leading community development projects and working towards peace in Colombia. Some of the highlights of this conversation center around the recent 100 page report just issued outlining ten agreements by both parties. Chief among them was an agreement made regarding the marginalization of farmers. Currently, about 40% of the land in Colombia does not have a defined owner and many farmers have lived and worked on the land without documentation of ownership. As Lissette explained, the agreement would prompt the government to start providing contracts to farmers designating ownership. 

Lissette went on in our conversation to explain the important agreement put in place to address inequities within education, food and housing experienced by those in the rural areas of Colombia. This agreement will help reduce poverty and allow for a better quality of life for those in rural areas. 

Additional agreements relate to an open bidding process for government contracts that will ensure companies and workers are from the same area in which the work is being done. This is likely to reduce corruption and the negative influence to the process by those who have traditionally held the most power.

Finally, while negotiations are still in process and the agreements are going in the right direction, future implementation and enforcement of the agreements will be a challenge. Lissette gave us first hand accounts of these challenges explaining explicit threats made to her partner and mentor (and our colleague and contributor), Fr. Leonel Narvaez. These threats have been issued by groups thought to be para-military and working against the peace process. Because the peace process ultimately hopes to empower marginalized individuals, those working for peace, reconciliation and human rights are viewed as a threat to oppositional para-military groups and they are fearful of losing the power they currently have.   

It was good to catch-up with Lissette, as she expressed her optimism in the face of outside pressure to her and Fr. Leonel's work. She assures us that they will continue to move forward, knowing that advancing their work in the reconciliation movement is the right thing to do for the community at large.

We are proud to continue in partnership and support the work of Lissette in Colombia. More information on her and her colleague's work can be found at our overview page here. Find out how you can become more involved and partner with us as we advance our project work in Latin America.