BOGOTA – Thousands of peace advocates in Colombia took to the streets on Monday in support of the agreement signed over two years ago with the FARC, whose implementation is currently uncertain due to partial objections by President Ivan Duque to the statutory law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
In Bogota, protesters gathered at various points in the city marching to the central Plaza de Bolivar, center of Colombian power, and express their rejection to the objections made by Duque on March 10 to six of the 159 articles of the law regulated by the JEP.
As in Bogota, the Colombian opposition made their appeal on the streets of Medellin, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, Cali and Cartagena, among other cities.
In the capital, where, as usual, the largest demonstration was held, attendees carried banners reading “Peace is necessary. The JEP is special. We embrace the JEP.”
Also, colorful banners adorned with flowers and painted children’s hands said “Citizens demand truth and justice. Support for the JEP.”
Duque pointed out at the time that the objections to those articles were made due to inconvenience and affirmed that this does not affect the fulfillment of the peace agreement signed between the Government and the FARC guerrilla, now a political party, in November 2016.
In addition, the president said he objected to the six articles so that the JEP guarantees the application of the truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition principles that are part of the agreement.
Among the protesters was Humberto de la Calle, who was the head of the government’s negotiating team during the peace negotiations, as well as former Interior Ministers Guillermo Rivera and Juan Fernando Cristo, both serving during the administration of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018).
A group of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) party, to which the guerrilla group was transformed, also attended the march in Bogota and its delegation was headed by senators Pablo Catatumbo and Carlos Antonio Lozada.
Both occupy two of the five seats in the Senate which the agreement guarantees to the FARC for two legislative periods regardless of their electoral result.
Catatumbo and Lozada held a banner in the front row, proclaiming “Defend the peace,” and walked accompanied by Rivera, Christ, left senator Ivan Cepeda and former presidential candidate Clara Lopez, who is also a progressive.
Likewise, the Senator of the Green Alliance, Antanas Mockus, the second most voted for in the last legislative elections, and opposition leader Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla member who was defeated by Duque in the second round of the presidential elections, marched next to the banner.
“This is about if the future in Colombia is an era of peace or is the continuity of an era of violence that is already 60 years old,” Petro said.