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Peace process: Justice and democracy?

Por: Anderson Andrés Martinez
y Diana Jaramillo

“We want to participate with the mechanisms that democracy offers us. We have very serious ideas and proposals for the country ". The chief inspector of the AUC, Adolfo Paz declared recently in an interview granted to the newspaper El Colombiano of Medellín.

The energy with which the negotiation between the Colombian State and the illegal groups of self-defense began is weakening with time due to the differences among official levels. One of the most shocking moments took place when the High Commissioner Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo, tried to resign because conceptual differences between the initial project, denominated by the AUC, as Truth, Justice and Amendment and the final project, written up by the executive authority called Justice and Peace.

The high commissioner showed "serious discrepancies" with the State and Justice Secretary, Sabas Pretelt De La Vega, about the proposal to define a legal frame for a negotiation with the armed groups.

On the other hand, the opinions about the subject were untied, after the International Symposium on Justice and Peace was held in Cali last February, when the Anglican archbishop and Nobel Peace price winner Desmond Tutu opened a new door of hope for the people as he affirmed in one of his interventions that: "when one begins to negotiate, the parts realize thet what seemed impossible to agree on possible, because the purpose is to be able to generate the necessary conditions to live peacefully".

The vice-president of the has shown disposition to pursuit a reconciliation between victims and victimizers by through Restorative Justice; a new movement in the field of the criminology.

Restorative Justice is a process where the parts at risk in a specific crime solve collectively how to deal with the consequences of the crime and implications for the future*. Nevertheless, Restorative Justice is different from contemporary penal justice in many forms because it observes from a wider perspective way, not only does it define the crime like simple transgression of the law, but it recognizes that the violators damage the victims, communities and themselves.

In an article published by the newspaper El Tiempo last February 11th, the Vice-president proposed to create a "Court of Reconciliation", which clearly states his position towards the peace process, through Restorative Justice. He also pointed out that the "discussion on projects has been tremendously hypocritical and attacks its authors. The discussion has been more product of political vanities, political hatreds, thirst of revenge that a search for community a well-being in the long term".

As far as the paramilitary through one of its spokesmen Adolfo Paz, insist on the fact that it is political negotiation and, therefore, is above legal considerations. "What happens is that unfortunately the legal subject has become leaving the political, but the most important aspect we believe and truste in the generosity of the society and the Colombian people and these difficult moments will be surpassed, but the political aspect is above any consideration", he stated.

While the positions of both sectors are clarified, the civil society is expectant about the reintegration. It is very possible, like it has already occurred, that the “reinsertados” are considered invisible by the civil society, the political sphere and by the armed groups with which he had fought. In an article of the newspaper El Tiempo on March 9th 2005, explains that in the sixteen months that the reintegrated have been once again part of the civil life - specifically those of the Cacique Nutibara group in Medellín and those of the Calima group in Valle -, 46 exmembers have benn assassinated, this is like remembering the form the more than 1000 people assassinated that were part of Unión Patriótica - UP -, “reinsertados” that originally came FARC.

The financing of lowering weapons or demobilization processes is another difficult issue because the International Community awaits a legal frame to establish their economical aid to the process.
“we are worried about the continuity of the process as far as negotiation and reintegration go because of the death of so many of our people we have asked the national government and the Auc not to let the negotiation fail. Said Giovanni Marin, Coordinator of the Corporación Democracia for the Cacique Nutibara group in Medellin.

However, the paramilitaries are not the only ones that are concerned about this situation. The high peace commissioner has two other battles to fight: a humanitarian agreement with the farc and an effort to approach the ELN with the help of the Mexican government. In this situation the people most interested in resolving this conflict are the kidnapped people and their families because as time goes on there is a greater distance between the government and the farc about a humanitarian exchange.

Even if the way is opened through the restorative justice movement, as far as conciliation among the Victim, victimize and com once caused, the AUC must dissolve completely, not only as an armed group but as a political Movement project. Marc Grossman the Sub Secretary of State establishes “we are on the side of justice and we believe that justice must be done. We feel that he who has committed a crime ought to pay for it and must be punished. In addition, we consistently support the extradition of those who have crimes in our country to be tried before American courts.

Aside from the declarations and intentions, every thing ought to be about the peace dialogues and how they could come to happy terms with all the sectors; so that instead of military investment there could be social investment in favor of a better country with greater benefits for all its citizens.