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Path to peace with prosperity

Article - April 8, 2014
The Santos administration pursues various interlinked strategies to achieve peace and poverty reduction
COLOMBIA
The government of Juan Manuel Santos is determined to finally turn the page on more than four decades of internal unrest through a path of dialogue, agreement and national reconciliation. Minister of the Interior Aurelio Iragorri states that “the first decision we made was to disarm our words...and try to find a point of convergence in dialogue.” The peace process started in September 2012 and agreement has been reached in two of the six peace agenda points, with negotiations continuing on the others.

Nevertheless, Vice-President Angelino Garzón emphasizes the government’s will to reach a peace agreement that will “allow the country to move forward in consolidating economic development, in reducing poverty and in implementing a more equitable distribution of land.” 
 
Former Minister of Justice Dr. Ruth Stella Correa notes that land and social justice are the vital components of a peace agreement and that the government already has policies in place to promote restitution of land and the provision of justice for victims in the conflict. The peace process may involve a national compact for a new start or, as Mr. Garzón states, “in the search for peace, we have to secure a road of forgiveness and reconciliation.” Dr. Correa remarks that “justice is one of the key pillars in building a stable and lasting peace; its absence [previously] has resulted in wounds not healing and we have learned that lesson.”
 
Poverty reduction is recognized as one of the key elements in bringing greater social inclusion and social justice. Gabriel Vallejo, Director of the Department for Social Prosperity, highlights the success of the Santos administration in taking “more than 2.4 million people out of poverty and more than 1.3 million out of absolute poverty”. He emphasizes programs such as ‘More Families in Action’ in which an allowance is paid to mothers, provided their children attend school and have prescribed vaccinations, thus linking payments with responsibilities and fostering social and personal development.
 
The poverty reduction program also aims to redraw income distribution between different regions of the country. Rafael Pardo, the Minister of Labor, is clear that “the backwardness of rural areas has a great deal to do with the persistent violence there” and so income from the development of oil and mineral resources is being redistributed so that poorer regions are now able to invest locally in social development and job creation. Interior Minister Mr. Iragorri adds that this redirection of resources to the local level is essential in the government’s fight against inequality.
 
The Santos administration has clearly interlinked strategies for both bringing an end to a decades-old conflict and for remedying circumstances that have historically fostered social discontent. Dr. Correa states that “peace must come from within a society”, something amplified by Mr. Iragorri when he says that “a country which doesn’t invest in its people will never be able to achieve peace.” The goal is peace with prosperity, for the whole country and for all its people.

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