The United States has been proud to be a partner to Colombia and its people throughout the peace process, declared Secretary Antony Blinken. The peace agreement finalized in 2016 between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ended the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere. During Secretary Blinken’s recent visit, the United States took another step in support of securing a lasting peace in Colombia, by becoming the first International Accompanier to the Ethnic Chapter of Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord.
“The Chapter recognizes that there can be no lasting peace without justice and equality for the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous people, who have been disproportionately harmed by this conflict,” said Secretary Blinken.
“Over five decades, 38 percent of Afro-Colombians, 27 percent of Indigenous people registered as victims of the conflict. By 2017, nearly a million had been forcibly displaced," he said. "Countless others suffered atrocities and human rights abuses – massacres, torture, disappearances, killings, sexual violence. Too often, those crimes went unpunished."
The Ethnic Chapter sets out a vision for an inclusive peace that addresses this history of inequity and ensures the rights of Afro-Colombians and Indigenous people going forward, said Secretary Blinken.
“Since supporting the negotiation process, we’ve supported Colombia’s efforts to help protect vulnerable communities, dismantle criminal organizations, support investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses," he said. "In all, we’ve contributed more than $1 billion to support Colombian-led efforts to implement the Peace Accord.”
Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development launched a five-year, $60 million program to support economic, political, and social inclusion in Colombia – the largest program of its kind in the world. The U.S. is partnering with nine Afro-Colombian and Indigenous organizations to create and implement peacebuilding and sustainable development initiatives.
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.
“The work that we’re here to support – like the Ethnic Chapter itself – is only possible because of incredibly courageous Colombians who have risked everything in the fight for equal rights,” declared Secretary Blinken. The United States is proud to be Colombia’s partner in this endeavor.