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Wednesday, 21 September 2016 00:00

Environment and Natural Resource preservation: A long path towards real transformations

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Written by: Roberto Cervantez - PCCC

At the 5th consecutive day of the X National Guerrilla Conference, the FARC-EP discusses “Environment and Natural Resource preservation” a topic that has direct relation to the agrarian problems in Colombia and the economic model of the country, which is primarily based in the massive exploitation of natural resources.

Based on the Gini index on land concentration which is measured from 0 to 1, where 0 represents total equality, Colombia is measured at 0.85, one of the highest in the world; a mind blowing fact that unfortunately is just one of many that proves the dire consequences of the economic model and the mostly violent forms of land accumulation in Colombia.

Indeed, the signed agreement at the Havana Peace Process between the FARC-EP and the National Government contemplates in point 1 a comprehensive rural reform, which amongst others, provides a fund of lands of 3 million hectares to be adequately distributed to landless small and medium agricultural producers and the formalization of 7 million more, totaling 10 million hectares.

Also read: Mining and Migration

The policies there contemplated are just a step towards improving the quality of life of all those peasants that have been historically forgotten and neglected by the State. Road infrastructure, technical training, schools, health care centers, technical assistance, subsidies, water pipelines, sewage, electricity and internet are basic elements that the State should have provided for its rural citizens a long time ago.

But these conquests must not be seen as an ending point but rather as a starting point for more transformations. This requires for the strengthening of the political opposition and guarantees of political participation for social and political movements, all of which are contemplated in point 3 of the Final Peace Agreement in the Political Participation agreement.

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This is why the FARC-EP and all opposition movements and organizations of the country see in peace an opportunity to participate in politics and decision making without fearing of State and paramilitary violence; An opportunity to be seen and treated as a legitimate political adversary and not as an enemy of war as has been the case for so many decades.

Also read: Gold and Misery in Colombia: The sad case of Segovia

The forms in which resource extraction takes place in Colombia have resulted in enormous environmental damage and has provided very little to the welfare of the rural communities where these resources are located, and in many cases, it has even worsened their living conditions, this is why many communities protest the entrance of multinational corporations of resource extraction into their regions such as the cases of San Martin, La Macarena, Caquetá, Tomila and Boyacá, to just name a few.

At the end of the day, these communities don´t seem to have a problem with resource extraction itself, but rather with the forms in which it’s being done and the policies behind them that only seem to benefit the foreign corporation and not the local population. Put in these terms -and as how many of the social movements have expressed it- Colombia needs to change the “deals” made with these companies. The local population and the country itself should be the primary beneficiary of resource extraction, after all, they are our national resources, and they do belong to all Colombians.

Also read: The 5 most threatened ecosystems of Colombia

Our colonial past haunts us. The elite class that betrayed our liberator Simón Bolívar took on the same type of practices that the Spaniards had over our country, and that is the practice of plundering the wealth of the country without any interest in its inhabitants. This explains why so much blood has been shed in Colombia since its independence, the current conflict is only the one we have had to live, but before, there were many others, civil wars and partisan violence are transversal to our entire history as an “independent” nation.

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It’s time for change, and with these historic Peace Agreements a world of possibilities opens for the Colombian people and for the political opponents. This is why Timoleón Jiménez [FARC-EP maximum leader] said in the inauguration speech of the Guerrilla Conference “For the FARC-EP and our people, the greatest satisfaction will always be to have won peace” and in that same line of thought, Iván Márquez, in his speech when the Final Agreement was reached said “We confess that we have concluded the most beautiful of all battles: laying down the foundations for peace and coexistence”.

Also read: The Most Beautiful of All Battles

To have finally made the governing classes in Colombia stop their political persecution and violent wealth accumulation ways is an enormous conquest itself in a country like Colombia, furthermore, to have won, not just for the FARC-EP, but for the Colombian population, the social and political content of the agreements that the government is compromised to fulfill, is also an important conquest; But as already mentioned: it’s a starting point.

The implementation of agreements may well be considered the real peace process. And the strength of the political opposition of Colombia is to be gathered and shown if indeed there is any type of will to govern the country. The challenges that lay ahead are many, the entire country knows it, the international community also, and as for the FARC-EP “[we will] give all of our energies for the new country that the majority of Colombians dream of” as Timochenko proclaimed it in the inaugural speech.

Also read: Installation Speech of Comandante Timoleon Jimenez in the X National Guerrilla Conference

 

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