For Too Long We Have Known Violence, Now We Want Peace. The Struggle to End Armed Conflict in the Colombian Department of Chocó
Allison, Alexander Scott
In 2016, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos struck a peace deal with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) which brought an end to the guerrilla group’s prolonged insurgency. This agreement provided the Colombian government with an opportunity to improve both the state of security and the overall quality of life in the territories which the FARC-EP had occupied. Yet, in the department of Chocó, a region that has been severely affected by Colombia’s internal conflict, the FARC-EP’s demobilization did not lead to a respite in violence. Instead, the inhabitants of Chocó have been subjected to new incidents of armed conflict as other guerrilla groups and criminal networks have fought for control over the region’s resources and illicit economies. The new struggle for power in Chocó has had a devastating effect on the department’s civilian population, but local ethnic organizations have not sat idly by as the armed conflict has escalated in the region. Rather, ethnic organizations throughout Chocó have placed pressure on the Colombian government to honor the commitments it made in the 2016 peace agreement. They have also called on the Colombian government to resume negotiations with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional which is now the dominant guerrilla force in Chocó. Local efforts to construct peace, however, have been undermined by the Colombian government’s decision to pursue a military solution to the region’s new conflict rather than political dialogues. This paper explores the prospects for peace in Choco in the so-called post conflict scenario.