• María Victoria Ramírez Martínez

USA first accompanier of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords

By: María Victoria Ramírez Read this content in spanish here


I am a black woman

tall as a cypress

strong

beyond all definition still

defying place

and time

and circumstance

assailed

impervious

indestructible

Look

on me and be

renewed…

I am a black woman, Mari Evans


The image of the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken and the Vice President of Colombia Francia Márquez shaking hands to seal the commitment of that country to support the Comprehensive implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords between Colombia and the FARC in 2016, is one of those things I did not expect to see and that, moreover, happens less than two months after the possession of the Petro government. That proves things can change if there is political will.


The 3rd of October, 2022 is an important and historic day because the United States becomes the first accompanier of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords. It is indeed a significant step that shows the commitment of both current Colombian and USA’s governments to protecting the rights of Afro-descendent, indigenous peoples and the other ethnic communities as established in the Final Agreement, acknowledging ethnic communities in Colombia have disproportionally been affected by the armed conflict.


The signing ceremony took place in a very special, symbolic location, Fragmentos Museum, as asserted by Secretary Blinken: “this is a special place, and even in the few minutes that I’ve been here, I can feel that. It’s very, very powerful. … It’s quite simply moving – moving to be here and to bear witness to the harrowing consequences of more than 50 years of conflict that are depicted all around us. From the paintings that reflect the agony of forced disappearances for victim’s families, to the floors beneath our feet, crafted from melted guns, hammered into tile with the participation of victims of sexual violence.” [1]


In the high-level meeting Secretary General Armando Wouriyu Valbuena of the Special High-Level Instance of Ethnic People –IEANPE- spoke about the true joy to have Francia Márquez in the position she is currently today, in a public endorsement of the indigenous people to the vice president. He also stated that in the peace process the Afrodescendent and Original nations were allies in order to achieve the main goal of making benefits for those communities incorporated in the peace agreement [2].


As Secretary Blinken also recognizes that if marginalized communities are reached by the public policies and improve their lives, the whole society advances: “Working toward greater equality will not only strengthen the foundations of peace in Colombia, but also the country’s democracy. Because when every community has equal access to opportunity, to justice, to development, and security, all of society benefits. That’s true in Colombia. It’s also true in the United States, with our own deep history of discrimination, which is still felt in our institutions, policies, and society. That’s why President Biden has made the fight for equity and racial justice a priority for our administration, at home as well as around the world”.


According to Laura Bonilla of Foundation Pares: “the attitude of the United States towards ethnic communities in Colombia is changing given that the Colombian government's position on the communities changed, which had been absent. It was nothing more than a speech in previous governments, even in the Santos government. This is going to allow a lot of progress to be made in the design of equity policies. This has strengthened Francia Márquez's leadership in showing Colombia's ethnic and cultural diversity. That that is being well received and that we can receive financial support towards that specific point is great. According to the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, the ethnic point of the agreements is the most unfulfilled”.


The USA government is giving an important impetus to Francia Marquez’ leadership and the ethnic communities she represents by highlighting that their persistence brought the nation to this very moment, and they will continue to carry it forward.


“As the vice president said, now is the time – now is the time – to work toward peace – “decisively, without fear, with love and with joy.” I can think of no more powerful and no more fitting words for this moment” said Secretary Blinken.


Vice Presidet Francia Márquez understands that the presence of Secretary Blinken in Colombia baking up the Ethnic Chapter for peace is to take on the commitment for total peace, for complete peace. The political will is not sort of unchallengeable and innate individual quality. It is not the same as political braveness or conviction. It is a deliberate social construct, and every positive advance of public policy rests upon successful creation of political will. The political will this time is shown by giving the importance to the political moment of Colombia, to the topics that the Colombian government has put up on the global agenda and therefore giving financial support to achieve the common goals.


At the moment of signing the commitment by both Francia Márquez and Secretary Anthony J. Blinken I could noticed two coincidences: They both looked very excited and happy and both signed with left hand.

References [1] U.S. Department of State, «Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez at a Signing Ceremony to Support the Comprehensive Implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the 2016 Peace Accord,» 3 10 2022. [On line]. Available: https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-and-colombian-vice-president-francia-marquez-at-a-signing-ceremony-to-support-the-comprehensive-implementation-of-the-ethnic-chapter-of-the-2016-peace-accord/. [Accesed: 10 05 2022]. [2] The Union Herald, «Secretary of State Blinken and Colombian VP Márquez Deliver Remarks on the 2016 Colombia Peace Deal,» 3 10 2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw8v6lxBPXQ. [Accesed: 10 05 2022].