«Peace in Colombia, what does that really mean?»

On Monday August 21, 2017 Margoth Roldán, responsible for the Horyzon program in Colombia, visited Horyzon in Olten. In an interview with Irène Hofstetter, Latin America Programme Manager at Horyzon, she explained how she perceives the peace process in Colombia.

Margoth Roldán began by pointing out that the current peace process is not the first attempt to end the armed conflict between the government and the FARC guerrillas that has lasted for more than 50 years. All attempts so far have failed and mostly selfish reasons of politicians have been the cause. The signing of the peace treaty after more than four years of negotiations is celebrated internationally as a great success. But Roldán made it clear that the really big challenges were only now coming to the Colombian population. These include complex issues such as justice, satisfaction, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Roldán also said that the peace process and the vote on the agreement had led to a strong polarisation in society and politics. The Nobel Peace Prize for President Juan Manuel Santos has even exacerbated the division. This reinforced the impression that the president was acting more for selfish motives than for the population.

Roldán also addressed the situation of the young people and explained why many young people from poor quarters were disappointed by the government. Very often these young people have no educational opportunities and therefore no chance of finding a job. With the peace agreement, former guerrilla members now receive some support for their return to civilian life. This makes other young people feel disadvantaged.

According to Roldán, developments in neighbouring Venezuela also have negative effects for young Colombians. Young people who have fled Venezuela to Colombia work at absolutely low wages and thus take urgently needed jobs away from young Colombians.

A survey by YMCA Colombia shows that there are three different attitudes to the peace process among Colombian youth. Some young people have not yet felt any change, some still have hope of positive changes and others feel insecure due to the expected changes. However, all young people expressed clear wishes to organisations such as YMCA Colombia. They want support in topics such as violence prevention, social and political participation, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, income generation and also protection of the environment and resources. Horyzon and YMCA Colombia will take these concerns into account in further programming in order to continue to offer relevant projects to Colombian youth.