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Statement by the OAS Secretary General: Colombia and the Peace

  May 24, 2019

The Government of President Duque has done everything to maintain peace, to deepen peace with justice and at the same time eradicate plantations and fight drug trafficking. It has not been nor will it be an easy task. It is a proven fact that when the government assumed power in August, the cultivation of coca had reached record levels.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported last September that coca cultivation had reached 171,000 hectares in 2017. This represents an increase of 17 percent over the previous year. The trend in time speaks for itself: since 2013, the area occupied by coca cultivation has grown, on average, 45 percent. The crop is also three times more productive than in 2012.

That is to say, the peace plan, whose negotiations began in 2012, has been characterized by a pronounced increase in the cultivation and trafficking of drugs. It is a contradiction in its terms, because with drug trafficking there is no sustainable peace. That challenge was met by the government of Ivan Duque when he took office on August 7, 2018.

Even so, the government has taken charge of this problem and, at the same time, has redoubled efforts to maintain peace. We are witnesses and participants in these achievements through our Mission to Support the Peace Process, MAPP-OEA. We have verified the following advances:

The government has been working on risk prevention for ex-combatants and efforts have been made with the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police, the National Unit for Protection UNP, the National Army, the Ombudsman's Office, as well as the organs established in the Peace agreement such as the Technical Protection and Security Board.

Security levels have been provided for former combatants who remain in 24 Territorial Training and Reintegration Spaces (ETCR). In each space there is a battalion with approximately 100 members of the FFPP and a contingent was created within the National Police.

To guarantee their adequate political participation in the upcoming local and regional elections in October, the government is studying a special protection plan for the candidates of the FARC party.

The government continues with the actions to guarantee the reincorporation of demobilized ex-combatants of the FARC. At present, more than 13,190 demobilized persons are accredited within the reincorporation program, which includes a basic income, education and productive projects.

The government created the Timely Action Plan for Prevention and Protection for Human Rights Defenders, Social and Communal Leaders and Journalists (PAO) in order to promote an articulated strategy to guarantee their security and the promotion of their human rights. In Tumaco, Nariño, a pilot safety plan has been carried out for the leaders of the substitution of illicit crops at the national level, coordinated with the Ministries of Defense and Justice, the Office of the Prosecutor, the Ombudsman, the Navy, the Army and the Police.

The Government has decided to continue with the crop substitution program (PNIS) and to comply with the agreements reached with 72,015 families to voluntarily substitute their crops in exchange for various forms of aid. It also created the Unified Command Post (PMU) against drug trafficking, which meets weekly, and seeks to ensure compliance with individual and collective agreements on voluntary substitution by the security forces. This will result in greater economic opportunities for farmers, helping to accelerate the country's rural development.

Peace in Colombia must be protected. No one understands that as well as President Duque. From the OAS, we are proud to have been, and to continue to be, part of that effort.

Reference: E-037/19