Peace has been elusive in the long-running armed conflict in Colombia. Starting in the mid-1980s, the government has made attempts to negotiate with the guerrillas. The most successful negotiations led to the disarming of the M-19 guerrillas and other minor groups, and the formation of a constituent assembly that resulted in the production of the 1991 constitution. Still, this success has been the exception rather than the rule in Colombia. In the 1980s the FARC guerrillas declared a ceasefire and formed the Patriotic Union political party, but thousands of party activists were killed by paramilitaries and their military allies.
Despite the failure of several past peace negotiations, many still believe that this is the only way to achieve comprehensive peace in Colombia. It is essential that civil society be adequately represented in future peace negotiations. Journalists, human rights advocates, labor unions, organizations representing women and ethnic groups, religious institutions, academics, student groups, and community leaders must be involved to ensure that peace talks are transparent and to hold government institutions accountable.
USOC calls on the US to use its good offices to promote conditions for a serious peace process with civil society participation.
A gay pride flag flies in Bogota's Plaza Simon Bolivar. Photo courtesy of Proyecto Colombia Diversa.
The U.S. Office on Colombia is an independent non-profit organization, not affiliated with any political party, that seeks to educate U.S. policymakers, the media and the U.S. public about the impact of U.S. policy on Colombia.