NEW YORK CITY, New York — On February 2, 2021, the U.S. Congress introduced S.Res. 24, a resolution to support efforts by the government and people of Colombia to pursue peace and regional stability. Following more than 50 years of conflict and violence, members of the international community, including the United States, have continued efforts to facilitate peace and stability in Colombia.
The Prospect of Peace
The 2016 peace accord marked one of the most significant moments in Colombian history. It brought together the Colombian government and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s largest guerrilla organization, to discuss conflict de-escalation. However, the implementation of the peace accord remains unfastened.
FARC is a leftist rebel group formed in 1964 with thousands of supporters and an estimated 10,000 armed soldiers. The group’s main political stance is the redistribution of wealth aligning with certain Marxist values. Furthermore, the group primarily funds its activities with illegal practices. These include drug trafficking, which has provided the organization with hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
On September 26, 2016, Colombian President Santos, and leader of FARC, Rodrigo Londoño, signed a peace agreement. However, a week later, a public referendum rejected the agreement with 50.21% of votes against it. The consensus was that the peace agreement was too lenient. Terms of a renegotiated peace agreement then circulated around the Colombian legislature. Even so, President Santos urged demobilization to start without waiting for a finalized agreement from the legislative branch.
US Support for Peace and Stability in Colombia
Since the 2016 signing of the peace agreement, the U.S. has invested more than $1 billion to support the Colombian people to establish peace. The U.S. government primarily works in Colombia’s rural areas where violence and other conflicts have left lasting damages. Alongside the Colombian government, the U.S. assists the implementation of initiatives that address issues relating to human rights, education, land reforms, economic opportunities and the rule of law.
Colombia hosts approximately 1.8 million Venezuelan refugees. As a result, in addition to promoting peace and stability in Colombia, the U.S. government has partnered with the Colombian government to address Venezuela’s political and economic crisis. The U.S. has provided $344 million to Colombia to support the spillover from Venezuela and has partaken in multilateral diplomatic pressuring efforts against the Venezuelan president.
A Look into S.Res. 24
In response to Colombia’s move toward civil reconciliation, the U.S. will continue to honor its commitment to support the Colombian people along the road to recovery. Through initiatives such as Plan Colombia by USAID and Peace Colombia by the Obama administration, the U.S. has contributed some $11 billion toward maintaining the rule of law by combating drug trafficking and criminal organizations, strengthening democratic governance, encouraging economic development and protecting human rights. S.Res. 24 reaffirms the U.S. commitment to further support Colombia in its goal of peace and stability.
On August 29, 2019, members of FARC called for the renewal of armed conflict and collaboration with the National Liberation Army, another leftist armed group. This resolution would, therefore, reaffirm the U.S.- Colombia partnership and cooperation in addressing potentially forthcoming issues. This would allow the U.S. to continue its efforts to defend communities and individuals facing violent threats and maintain peace and stability in Colombia.
– Malala Raharisoa Lin