The annual celebration of International Day of Peace today holds special significance in Colombia given recent developments to try to end decades of conflict. Established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly, this day is meant to coincide with the opening session of the UNGA as well as raise public awareness on issues related to peace and ending violence.
Colombian institutions have made special arrangements for today. The popular musician Juanes is managing El Tiempo newspaper for the day, with Shakira and Miguel Bose stepping in as contributing columnists to write about different themes of peace.
This year’s International Day of Peace has special significance in Colombia. On Tuesday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced the capture in Venezuela of Daniel Barrera, known as El Loco—one of Colombia’s most powerful drug traffickers. Earlier this month, on September 4, President Santos announced the agreement to hold peace negotiations between his administration and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC). The talks will begin in Oslo, Norway, in early October.
With a recent surge in FARC attacks and the Colombian government’s continued pursuit and capture of FARC allies, the peace talks come at a vital time. While the negotiations will take place without a formal declared ceasefire, attempts are being made to ensure that these talks do not follow the trajectory of failed peace talks in the past. With the aim to make both sides feel at ease, Norway was chosen as a location due to its history in international mediation; Chile, a strong ally of Colombia, will be an observer. Cuba was chosen as a second location and Venezuela was also given observer status to make FARC feel more comfortable.