I am pleased today to share a dialogue with Natalia Ariza Ramírez, a Hubert Humphrey Program Fellow, linked to the University of Montana, who has served in various positions in the Colombian State, and was recently Vice Minister of Higher Education. With her leadership, we will develop a talk that has two purposes. First, we pay special tribute to Colombia on the Independence Day celebration, today July 20th, which by 2017 will be very special for Colombian people, because after 50 years of a violent internal armed conflict between the Military Forces and the FARC guerrilla, which about 8 million Colombian people were victims, today will be the first day of celebration of their independence that was lived in the new Colombia in PEACE, after the signing of the Agreement signed between the Government Colombian and FARC guerrillas in September 2016, which puts the end to this conflict.
For this reason, our second objective is to know, through Natalia, the main characteristics of the Colombian internal conflict, how the process to arrive at the signing of the Peace Agreement was carried out, the main commitments that were established in that agreement and the main challenges that this country has in the coming years in order to implement the pacts achieved. It is for Colombia the end of an era in which violence did not allow it to advance in economic and social development as all its citizens would have wanted. However, this country is an example of strength and hope. Today Colombian people have their expectations of improving their living conditions based on the concept of peace, which they are jointly creating to face their new condition as a country free from war. Therefore, for the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, it will also be an interesting stimulus to share this joint vision that peace is not only a point of arrival, but also a state that enhances development and social inclusion.
I invite you not only to celebrate this special day with our Colombian friends, paying tribute to each and every one of the victims of the conflict, but extending our solidarity with this people that today begins a path, which will surely not be easy but it has important bases, and these are part of an integral vision of PEACE, which will surely allow them to improve the well-being of Colombian people…Betsy