The peace process conducted with the FARC guerillas has led profound changes for Colombia, including boosting rural development, the origin of our conflict, changing bullets for votes, and dismantling of the mafia drug trafficking structures, writes Columbia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón.
The President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos Calderón contributed this op-ed exclusively to EURACTIV. He will be on an official visit to Brussels on Tuesday (4 November).
The peace process conducted by the Colombian Government with FARC guerrilla in Havana for two years –with the support of Chile, Cuba, Norway and Venezuela– has been a serious, realistic, dignified and effective process, which has represented concrete progress.
The first three points we, on which we have already agreed, contain profound changes for Colombia: make historic investments to boost rural development, the origin of our conflict; change bullets for votes for ever, deepening our democracy, and the dismantling of the mafia drug trafficking structures, accompanied by a large national program consisting of replacing crops and on alternative development, which would lead to approaching a Colombia without coca.
We have gone further than ever, but it is also true that we are entering the most complex stage: the points that address the issue of victims and transitional justice, and the so called DDR: disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Many will wonder: why is this important for Europe or for the world?
There are several underlying reasons. The first is that we will be the first country to negotiate the end of an armed conflict within the Rome Statute. What happens in Colombia will have profound implications for future conflict resolution anywhere in the world.
Second, silencing the guns means recovering huge extensions of the Colombian fields. Colombia, slightly larger in area than Spain and France combined, is considered by the FAO one of the eight countries in the world that can significantly increase their food production and, to the extent that the recovered fields become productive, will be able to contribute to food security in the world.
Third, the dismantling of drug trafficking will reduce the amount of cocaine entering European capitals from South America and will help stop the devastating impact of the production process of cocaine paste on the environment. Colombia is the country with the greatest biodiversity per square kilometer, and the preservation of its ecosystem is of paramount importance for humanity.
Finally, peace is a good deal. The Colombian economy is the one with the fastest rate of growth and with the lowest rate of inflation in Latin America –even compared to OECD countries–, and is one of the countries that receives more foreign investment. Only in the last five years, trade between the EU and Colombia grew 25 per cent. Moreover, our growth has been achieved with equity, creating quality jobs and significantly reducing poverty.
Most experts and economists agree that without conflict, Colombia’s GDP can grow two additional points permanently, which would result in huge opportunities on investment, infrastructure, tourism and technologic development for European companies.
In a world threatened by the winds of war, Colombia offers a hope for peace. In a world concerned about economic uncertainty, Colombia offers opportunities and stability.