Violence in Colombia, analyzed from a social and humanistic perspective

<span class ="caption"> Protesters perched on the Monument to the Heroes, on Avenida de Caracas in Bogotá (Colombia) in May 2021. </span> <span class ="attribution"> <a class= Shutterstock / MatthieuCattin ” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOC42NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2/–~B/aD05NTg7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/″ data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOC42NjY2NjY2NjY2NjY2/–~B/aD05NTg7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/″/>Protesters perched on the Monument to the Heroes, on Avenida de Caracas in Bogotá (Colombia) in May 2021. Shutterstock / MatthieuCattin

Between 1964 and 2016, an armed conflict has developed in Colombia that has resulted in an approximate figure of seven million victims. The magnitude and complexity of this reality are so high that they require the participation of multiple scientific disciplines and institutional mediations to try to understand its causes and consequences. But also to imagine, propose and develop solutions, as well as ways to avoid the reactivation of the conflict and learn from the past.

The strategy for the transition from armed conflict to peace

Since 2004, the Colombian government has been developing a strategy for the transition from the armed conflict to peace. It implies three fronts of action: justice, memory and integration. All three converge on the objective of reintegrating ex-combatants into civilian life. To this end, various plans have been proposed aimed at rebuilding the social fabric, especially in the regions and sectors most affected by the conflict. This requires overcoming their conditions of vulnerability to guarantee the construction of peace and democracy, as well as to prevent crime.

The reintegration model aims to move away from a reductionist and military approach and promote a broad, comprehensive and multidimensional one. However, a tendency is observable for the State to adopt a preferably security form. The reason is that, in addition to promoting development and justice, it must offer security to all citizens within a democratic framework.

The understanding and legal treatment of the armed conflict

Any experience is conditioned by beliefs, descriptions, previous concepts. It is not possible to “do” or “have” a “pure” experience, without theoretical mediations. Nor in the case of the Colombian armed conflict. In his case, legal mediation stands out. It is the most effective, inevitable and conditioning that we have to access it. Certainly, there are many other mediations; there are photographs, there are speeches from the various human and social sciences, there are oral testimonies, there are sound records, there are works of art, there are informal conversations, there is literature, etc. But all these mediations are overdetermined by law and pale before its conditioning force.

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The armed conflict has been mediated by the legal system in multiple ways. The 1991 reform of the Political Constitution carried out in 2012 stands out. It entailed the creation of the Legal Framework for Peace with the aim of developing a comprehensive and coherent transitional justice strategy.

The other legal milestone for dealing with the conflict was the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace, of 2016, which includes the creation of a Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition to guarantee the rights of victims.

Despite the effort of these legal instruments to overcome mere retributive punitive justice, such instruments have an obvious immunizing purpose for the social body. They are necessarily coercive instruments that functionalize and monopolize violence in order to normalize social life. It is understandable that this is so.

For this reason, it is necessary to do justice to the richness of the Colombian armed conflict, that is, to contribute to the complexity of its experience. This requires multiplying the theoretical mediations to describe it, think about it, understand it, imagine solutions and repairs, etc.

A social and humanistic approach to the armed conflict

One of the tasks of university institutions is to help identify the deficiencies and challenges of the present and give them a theoretical form to investigate their causes and imagine solutions.

The book Justice, memory, integration. Theoretical debates and experiences in the framework of social institutions, the result of numerous meetings over two years between researchers from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana and the University of Murcia (with the collaboration of the Museo Casa de la Memoria de Medellín), has the main objective of reflect on the factors that positively affect the promotion and consolidation of justice, memory and social integration, taking as a point of reference the current reintegration program.

Along with this, there are complementary objectives. In the first place, to debate different contemporary theories that contribute to improving the understanding of the indices, factors, risks and challenges of a free, egalitarian, inclusive and fair political culture; that is, a culture that fosters and sustains an integrated democratic society.

Second, to analyze different testimonies of political experiences of management and representation in societies with circumstances and challenges similar to those of Colombia.

Third, and finally, learn about different testimonies from private groups that exemplify the consequences of the deficits of integration, freedom, equality and justice that Colombia suffers.

The adoption of humanistic and social perspectives and approaches has made it possible to multiply and demonstrate the complexity of the conflict. This cannot be reduced to challenges merely treatable with the tools of law, even if these are indispensable.

Projects like this show that the value of humanistic disciplines, and particularly philosophy, is not reduced to criticizing institutions, but also lies in the imagination and proposal of unthinkable alternatives to improve them.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.

Alfonso Galindo Hervás does not receive a salary, nor does he carry out consulting work, nor does he own shares, nor does he receive financing from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and he has declared that he lacks relevant links beyond the academic position mentioned.

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