Seventeen municipalities from the departments of Valle del Cauca and northern Cauca have already joined the effort—the first of its kind in the nation.
APRIL 28, 2017—SANTIAGO DE CALI, Colombia— As part of coordination efforts in the region to facilitate reintegration of former FARC combatants, Mayor Maurice Armitage visited the Monterredondo transitional local point for normalization in Miranda, a municipality located in the department of Cauca, where he met with Mayor José Leonardo Valencia, as well as with commanders and former combatants housed at the transitional point.
This is the first time that a mayor of one of the country’s largest cities has visited one of the transitional zones where FARC members are currently gathered. Mayor Armitage has agreed to lend Cali’s institutional expertise and technical capability to seventeen municipalities in northern Cauca and southern Valle del Cauca, which are located close to these transitional zones and points for normalization.
"It is a wonderful experience to see human beings committed to peace. As Colombians, we have to work for it, and the least we can do is lend them a hand and support them in order to boost development in these areas. Our recommendation was that the solution is not to send them to big cities to end up in slums, but that they remain in these municipalities that are striving to generate more development," Armitage said.
Cali has been one of the biggest recipients of demobilized fighters and victims of the conflict. Currently, there are around 2,000 men and women in the city on the path to reintegration, which is a result of the peace process with the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and of the demobilization of individual guerrillas. Now, with the mayor and FARC commanders committed to working together, Cali will contribute to the efforts to reintegrate 1,200 of the 7,200 FARC fighters in the disarmament process.
"This effort to coordinate the social and economic reintegration of former FARC combatants at the regional level is the first of its kind in the peace process and is an example of best practices for the rest of the country," said Juan Fernando Lucio, director of PASO Colombia (Sustainable Peace for Colombia).
PASO Colombia has been invited by Dr. Rafael Pardo, Senior Presidential Advisor for the Post-Conflict, to coordinate the creation of this regional reintegration plan with the participation of four municipalities from Valle del Cauca and thirteen that belong to AMUNORCA (Association of Municipalities of Northern Cauca). PASO Colombia has been working with mayors from the region to identify and georeference economic opportunities. Currently, 910 sites have been mapped out that have significant potential for developing economic projects that would make the sustainable reintegration of demobilized combatants possible.
“We believe that lasting peace must be built by everyone and for everyone. The participation of local stakeholders in peace-building, working in a concerted effort to create reintegration plans for their communities, is crucial given that these plans will impact everyone’s lives," observed Juan Fernando Lucio.