By Emilio Huertas
I am proud to call myself a Colombian. I love my country from the bottom of my heart. But it grieves me that I have never known peace in my beloved country. Instead, I have witnessed the tragedy of a civil war that has left a sad legacy of death, destruction of infrastructure and displacement of families from their ancestral lands.
I have worked for most of my career in international development and humanitarian relief, a vocation that has taken me around the world pursuing sustainable solutions to poverty and human suffering. Only three years ago, I returned to Colombia to take a position with an international NGO, Lutheran World Relief, as the nation finally approached an elusive peace. That hope for peace, while fragile, has finally dawned with the peace agreement signed between the government and the largest rebel group, and my country is once again filled with hope.
As a Colombian who comes from family tradition of farming, I recognize that the best way to keep the peace is to concentrate resources to spur social and economic development in the neglected rural areas of the country, where much of the violence took place. And it is my firm belief that, however well intentioned, the peace will not hold unless we involve key members of our society — especially civil society groups and the private sector — which to this point have been excluded from the political process. Without their participation in implementing and verifying the peace accord, it cannot succeed, nor can the country’s ambitious plan for rural development.
My fellow members of Colombia’s civil society organizations believe there is a way to achieve this collaboration. We are proposing the formation of 16 regional citizen committees to support and accompany the implementation of the peace agreement signed between the Government of Colombia (GOC) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).
Read the rest of the article in The Huffington Post