Unions welcome Colombian peace deal
Speaking after the Colombian government and FARC reached a deal after four years’ negotiations, ASLEF general secretary and Chair of Justice for Colombia Mick Whelan said: “JFC was established in 2002 when 184 trade unionists were assassinated in that year alone.
“Since then ASLEF has been proud to support JFC in its work with Colombian civil society, building international support for the peace process. Over the last few years they have organised several cross party delegations from Belfast and Dublin, for partners with valuable experience in peace negotiations to meet with the negotiating team of President Santos and with the FARC negotiators, and their hard work is finally paying off.
“We hope to see the Colombian peace agreement ratified in October and the law to amnesty guerrilla fighters approved, so that the Colombian people can move forward – and the trade union movement can pursue its campaign for human rights and social justice without fear of violence and persecution.”
Justice for Colombia, which is backed by the TUC, and dozens of trade unions including GMB, UNISON and Unite, released the following statement alongside the Parliamentary Friends of Colombia (PFC):
“This is an historic moment for Colombia and promises to put an end to the country’s more than fifty year armed conflict. We congratulate both sides for the groundbreaking achievement and for the dedication of the negotiating teams to finalise the agreement. We congratulate the negotiators for reaching historic agreements on issues such as victims’ rights and for the unprecedented inclusion of a gender perspective to ensure the agreement reflects the differential experiences of women and minorities in Colombia.
“JFC and PFC have been campaigning, alongside our partners in the British and Irish parliaments and trade union movements, for over a decade for peace in Colombia. We have supported Colombian civil society in its struggle for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict, often in the face of opposition and violence.
“Since 2012 we have wholeheartedly supported and mobilised international support for the peace talks in Havana. JFC was named as a formal advisor to the negotiations, facilitating experience sharing. We recognise the international support of British and Irish politicians and trade unionists and pay tribute to the generosity and solidarity of all parties from Northern Ireland who shared their experiences of the Good Friday Agreement to strengthen the peace process in Colombia.
“We acknowledge that there is much work to be done to implement the agreements and create real and lasting peace in Colombia. We believe that this agreement is a profoundly important step towards resolving the causes of the conflict and creating a space for real democratic political participation in Colombia. JFC and PFC commit their full support to the peace process as it moves into the verification and implementation stages and to Colombian society in its quest for a country at peace.”