The leader of the Association of Rural Workers of Nicaragua (ATC) Fausto Torres, called for an “International Day for Peace in Colombia” and urged governments to demand Colombian president Iván Duque to advance in the fulfillment of the Peace Accords signed in 2016 by the State with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“Solidarity is crucial. It depends on peasant organizations, but also on allies, academics, artists committed to our case, the alternative media, so that we can join and make this International Day for Peace a reality. The Colombian people, after 60 years of conflict, deserve to live peacefully in order to overcome the serious crises experienced, especially in the countryside”, said Torres to Real World Radio.
The interview with one of the most renowned leaders of ATC and the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations (CLOC – Vía Campesina) was held on April 2nd, at the end of the 3rd International Solidarity Mission to Colombia carried out by La Vía Campesina to verify compliance with the Peace Accords.
“There is noncompliance” of the Accords by the government, said Torres: “we don´t see political will to advance”. And he highlighted that the former fighters of FARC have visibly surrendered their weapons.
The peasant leader said that the Peace Accords are fundamental due to the internal war experienced in Colombia, but that this is not the end. “There are thousands and thousands of peasant and indigenous families who need a solution for the land issue. We believe the land issue is key for peace in Colombia”.
In the interview with Real World Radio, Torres made reference to the aspects he considers essential of the conclusions of the 3rd Solidarity Mission of Vía Campesina to Colombia. He mentioned the call for an international day for peace in Colombia, the role of governments in pressuring President Duque and solidarity. “We need the solidarity from the peoples, from organizations of other continents, a whole day in solidarity for the government to advance and comply with the commitments made and for peace to be more visible”.
Torres said that international campaigns in defense of human rights should be “stronger” given the serious situation in Colombia, with hundreds of social activists and defenders of the territories murdered after the Peace Accords were signed.
“Many social leaders are carrying out actions in communities to demand respect for the Peace Accords, and they end up being murdered. We need to make a global demand, because it is not fair to be killed to defend peace, land, an improvement of living conditions. This work needs to be done in solidarity”.
The representative of ATC also said that international cooperation with the Colombian people is important, but along a monitoring work “to see if this cooperation is not limited to bureaucracy, studies, research, without working on the ground”.
Torres also valued the support of the 3rd Solidarity Mission of Vía Campesina to Colombia, especially the search for unity in the Colombian social movement and joint work.
At the end of the interview, the leader sent a message to Colombian peasants, where he highlighted the Declaration on Peasant Rights achieved at the UN last December, which needs to work for “giving them back the right to be peasants” and to value their crucial role in the production of food.
In a message to the Colombian government, Torres demanded to “advance in terms of political will”. He recognized that there have been some changes: “some people who used to carry weapons are now senators and there are a lot of people who surrendered arms”, but the government “needs to cover more, to reach the countryside, the grassroots, in order to solve problems”. “The government needs to understand the voice of the people”, he said and called for them to “maintain the will” signed in the Peace Accords.