The M-19: Looking to Colombia’s past in achieving peace

CCTV News

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The Colombian Government and the FARC Guerilla group have achieved a historic peace agreement that will be put up for a vote by the Colombian people on October 2nd. But this isn’t the first peace agreement in the country’s history. In the 1990s, the second largest guerilla group known as the M-19 sat down with the government and negotiated an end to their then 16 year war.

CCTV’s Michelle Begue sat down with one of its former members to talk about this peace agreement.

The M-19: Looking to Colombia's past in achieving peace

The M-19: Looking to Colombia's past in achieving peace

The Colombian Government and the FARC Guerilla group have achieved a historic peace agreement that will be put up for a vote by the Colombian people on October 2nd. But this isn’t the first peace agreement in the country’s history. In the 1990s, the second largest guerilla group known as the M-19 sat down with the government and negotiated an end to their then 16 year war. CCTV’s Michelle Begue sat down with one of its former members to talk about this peace agreement.

In the 1970s Vera Grabe, Director of Observatory for Peace, was part of a Colombian Urban Guerilla movement called the M-19. She says during that time its members believed a revolution in the country could only be achieved through arms.

“Many of our members had deserted the FARC guerilla and wanted to be part of a new and different guerilla movement that was closer to the people, more urban,” said Grabe.

Through a peace deal-finalized in 1990, the M-19 members demobilized and transformed into a legal political party. After turning in her weapons Grabe was quickly elected into Congress through popular vote.

Today as the FARC guerilla group transitions into Colombian politics, Grabe says the key to reconciliation and peace is humility.

“You have to lose the attitude that you hold the truth, because you need to begin to relate to people differently. The M-19 tried to maintain that dialogue with people and that is how we came to the decision to negotiate peace, because people said no more war.”

Grabe says it is hard to compare one peace process with another. To begin with, the peace agreement with the M-19 was only 10 pages long, compared to the 297 pages that make up the deal between the FARC and the Colombian government.

As the agreement is put up for a vote on October 2nd, Grabe says it is important that Colombians read and debate the agreement. But she insists that citizens not lose sight that this deal will bring an end to 52 years of war, and open the doors to peace.