Colombia’s peace deal will help country compete in global economy, ambassador says

Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzon speaks at a luncheon in Coral Gables on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzon speaks at a luncheon in Coral Gables on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

The peace accord between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has laid the cornerstone for long-term stability and prosperity that will enable the country to compete better in the globalized economy, the Colombian ambassador to the United States, Juan Carlos Pinzón, said in Coral Gables Thursday.

“There is a signed agreement, and it is a fact,” Pinzón said during a lengthy speech to a luncheon of the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce. “It resulted from a fundamental strategy to recover the stability of the country. Peace in Colombia makes the country move forward and builds the future the country needs.”

FARC guerrillas who moved to temporary camps as part of the Colombian peace deal say the government hasn't kept its promises to create decent living conditions.

Titled “Colombia on a Path to Prosperity,” Pinzón’s speech added to the strategic message that the envoy has been delivering since leaving his previous post as minister of defense in Bogotá and becoming Colombia’s ambassador in Washington in 2015.

“Today [Colombia] is the third-largest economy in South America, exporter of security knowledge and committed to a peace process that hopes to end 50 years of conflict,” according to a letter Pinzón sent to The Washington Post two years ago.

Pinzón reaffirmed that message in his Coral Gables speech — but with greater emphasis, because the peace agreement is now reality and Santos is bent on making sure the deal does not collapse and demonstrating to the international community that Colombia bet on the right strategy.

“It will move the country forward,” Pinzón said, and give citizens hope and a feeling that Colombia is “a viable country” capable of succeeding on the world stage where a “better future” awaits.

Pinzón’s message, however, contrasts with that of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe when he gave a speech in Miami in October warning that the peace accord could open the door for Colombia to turn into another Cuba or Venezuela.

Although allies before, Uribe and Santos are now bitter rivals. Uribe has since become a leading opposition figure in Colombia who derides the peace agreement with FARC.

An anti-peace deal movement — with the slogan “No More Santos, No More FARC” — has called for marches and protests Saturday in cities around the world with major Colombian expatriate communities. A Miami protest is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park at 401 Biscayne Boulevard.

For 14 years Inty Maleywa has been painting and sketching in the jungle as a member of Colombia's FARC guerrillas. Now that the group is demobilizing amid a historic peace deal, Maleywa's work is finally being seen in public.