Evaluations: Voices from the New Countryside: The Challenge and Opportunity of Peace in Rural Colombia

Colombia Peace Event Report

The advent of a signed peace accord in Colombia between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels and government brought the promise of an end to five decades of armed conflict. Unfortunately, on October 2, 2016, in a referendum result with a low turnout, the Colombia people rejected that accord by a narrow margin. Opinions are mixed on whether the accord can be modified and if the current cease-fire will hold.

By “sealing the deal” through implementation of a signed agreement with the FARC, Colombia might have begun to tackle some of the most important root causes of the conflict that has displaced nearly six million people, the second highest in the world, exceeded only by Syria. Many of these people are living in major or secondary cities and some are now returning to the Colombian countryside, spurred by the promise of the recently approved Land and Victim Laws. Sustainable rural development in the nuevo campo Colombiano (“new Colombian countryside”) that addresses challenges in rural areas and the needs of returnees is a shared priority of both the leadership of the FARC and the current Colombian government led by President Juan Manuel Santos. As an indication of its importance, this approach, referred to as the Integrated Agrarian Development Land Policy, was one of the first issues agreed to in the long peace negotiations.

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