In Colombia, peace means sustainable development (Special to IANS)

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After more than 50 years, the Colombian government led by President Juan Manuel Santos put an end to the armed conflict through negotiations and the signing of a definite and bilateral ceasefire with the FARC guerilla group in Havana on June 23, 2016.

Many attempts were made during the last decades; however only the government of President Santos has succeeded in the goal of stopping the armed conflict — all this in a negotiating process that was firmly supported by the international community, including international organizations such as the United Nations.

President Santos put in motion this peace process in 2012, which after multiple challenges and more than 50 rounds of complex negotiations has reached agreements with the FARC on six matters: agrarian reform, political participation, the drug problem and illegal crops, transitional justice and reparation for victims, final ceasefire, and implementation, verification and democratic approval of agreements.

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To sanction the outcome of the negotiations President Santos ordered a plebiscite for the people of Colombia to decide and express support or disaccord to the peace agreements reached to end the armed conflict. After being approved by the Constitutional Court, the agreements will come into effect in the coming weeks.

In Colombia peace means sustainable development. Huge economic benefits will derive. Experts have calculated that as a result of the peace process, Colombia’s GDP would double every nine years, which is twice the current pace.

It is also expected that the current $6,800 per capita income could reach $12,000 in just a decade; foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to climb to nearly $36 billion in the coming years, compared to $12 billion dollars in 2015, which places Colombia within the top 20 in the world in terms of FDI flows.

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It is well known that Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. That is why one additional dividend of peace is that Colombia will save $2.3 billion every year to be used to overcome the environmental degradation caused by the armed conflict.

Thanks to peace, Colombia will not pay any more for recovering deforested areas associated with the armed conflict, medical services due to mercury-related illness derived from illegal mining, as well as cleaning of waste oil and recovery of ecosystems affected by terrorist attacks on pipelines.

The new peaceful environment will deeply improve the quality of life of the Colombian people, as well as generate unimaginable business opportunities for investors, both national and foreign.

The war is over. The dream of seeing the last day of the conflict has came true. A new Colombia is germinating in the land of peace. The social and economic miracle from long-lasting and stable peace has already begun.

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(Monica Lazeetta is Colombia’s ambassador in India. The views expressed are those of the Colombian government. The author can be reached at [email protected])



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