On April 3rd, 2013 I visited the United States Institute of Peace to attend a presentation on Colombia: Land & the Agenda for Peace. There were 3 panels and each had two presenters. Dr. Cynthia Arnson from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars played the moderator for the first panel. The first 2 guest speakers were Mr. Absalon Machado and Carlos Salgado. Both are Colombian Economists. Their presentation was about the problems of land and peace agenda in Colombia and also the importance of rural areas in the land reform process. The speakers were speaking in Spanish through interpreters. Most of the discussion was about the current peace talks between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba. it is considered a road map for peace in Colombia. The panel discussed the issue of land reforms for those who are displaced, peasants, and those lands that were taken by drug traffickers and guerrillas. The panel also discussed the struggles that both sides face in order to reach an agreement. One main struggle is that there are four sides to the process, Colombian government, FARC, peasants, and organizations. Before any of these talks to be discussed, the panel said that the Colombian government must have a proper zoning maps to include land with resources and how it will be distributed.
On January 30, 2013, I went to the event “Peace Process in Colombia,” held in the Wilson Center, Washington D.C. The two speakers of the event were Enrique Santos Calderon, the brother of the current president of Colombia and famous journalist, and Marta Ruiz Narajo, another well-known journalist of Colombia. They both talked about the peace process and conflicts that have been apparent in Colombia between the government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The event itself was interesting because not only was it held in Spanish, but it was not a topic that I had an interest or know anything about before. All the information I heard and learn from the session was new and interesting. The speakers were very informative and kind enough to address point by point. Santos was very detailed in explaining the peace process while Marta showed much fervor about the topic through her tone when she said things like “the dirty war continues to be a threat”. Among the things they talked about were the risks of the negotiations and peace process. They were concerned about the public opinion and frustration of such a long, slow process, afraid that the public would think that this peace process will not get anywhere just like it did in previous times. On the other hand, they said that it is a positive sign to see that the armed forces are not opposing negotiations for the first time. They did not forget to mention that this problem was not only a governmental problem, but local where local participation was needed.