EL DIAMANTE, Colombia – Enrique Santiago, the Spanish legal adviser of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) during the negotiations with the Colombian government, stressed the importance to reintegrate the guerrillas after the official signing of the peace agreement on Sept. 26, in order to avoid a resurgence of violence in Colombia.
“It is important that the reintegration is resolved on acceptable terms, because otherwise there is a risk that violence, in a country accustomed to the use of weapons, will increase,” Santiago told EFE in El Diamante, where the 10th National Guerrilla Conference began on Saturday.
At the conference, some 200 delegates of the FARC guerrilla army are expected to ratify a peace agreement with the Colombian government.
Santiago noted that one of the weakest points of the peace agreement between the government and the FARC was precisely the reintegration of guerrillas into civilian life.
He also pointed out that in El Salvador, for example, violence is nowadays causing many more lives than during the civil war era, and that Colombia cannot follow this path.
“The challenge of implementing the peace agreement is how to develop the best possible programs, so that the guerrillas can return to society with dignity,” he added.
The Spanish former parliamentarian claims there is an “advantage” in Colombia’s case, since the FARC “is an organization with clear peasant origins, and its members do not intend to be linked to urban areas but the rural environment,” which will consequently facilitate their return to civilian life, and encourage them not to become criminal gangs.
Hence, he thinks the rural development programs, which formed a main point of the peace talks, are very important.
From his perspective, he noted that the biggest challenge was the comprehensive land reform, the first of the agreed objectives and which the FARC’s claims as a major victory in the negotiations.
“This is a very sensible agreement where, for the first time in the world, both sides have agreed to undertake a process of justice with effective measures to economically and socially remedy the victims,” Santiago said.
The peace agreement with the FARC will be submitted to a referendum on Oct. 2. After that, Colombia will see the end of the armed conflict which has killed more than 220,000 people and has ravaged the country for more than half a century.