McGovern Joins Secretary Kerry in Colombia for Historic Peace Agreement Signing
CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA – Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and leading voice in Congress for human rights, joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. leaders for the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end an armed conflict that began in 1964. Congressman McGovern released the following statement on the signing:
“Today I am proud to join Secretary Kerry for this historic step forward for peace in Colombia and I am grateful to President Santos for his invitation. This groundbreaking agreement is the culmination of years of hard work and would not have been possible without the strong commitment of the Colombian government and FARC guerillas as they worked to achieve a lasting solution. Following more than 50 years of conflict, peace is no longer a fantasy. At the heart of this process and essential to its success has been the Colombian people themselves who never stopped believing that peace was possible.
“For the past 15 years, I have strongly supported efforts to advance peace and human rights in Colombia. I have met with hundreds of victims of the conflict and have been touched by each of their stories. The voices of the victims must be central to carrying out these peace accords, and promoting reconciliation, truth and justice.
“The Colombia peace agreement took four years to negotiate and now the hard work of implementation begins. While this marks a major step forward, I am concerned about the escalation of murders and attacks against human rights defenders and community leaders. These are the leaders Colombia needs now to build peace and reconciliation. The Colombian government must ensure their protection and stand alongside their important work. The Colombian people have the opportunity to vote for peace on Sunday, October 2nd, in the national plebiscite and I urge the Colombian government to ensure that every voice is heard.
“As a proud partner for peace, the United States must work with the international community to do all it can to support the successful implantation of this historic agreement. After more than 50 years of war in Colombia, we must stand with the Colombian people now to help them achieve a just and lasting peace and the bright future they deserve.”
Congressman McGovern has long been a leading voice in Congress supporting the push for peace and human rights in Colombia. In December 2015, Congressman McGovern co-sponsored a bipartisan resolution backing the Colombian peace process and in February 2016, Congressman McGovern joined nearly 60 House lawmakers in urging President Obama to do all he could to support the ongoing negotiations in Colombia as both parties worked toward a peace agreement.
In addition to Congressman McGovern and Secretary Kerry, the peace signing was attended by Senator Ben Cardin, Representative Sam Farr, Under Secretary For Political Affairs Tom Shannon, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary Bureau of Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesperson John Kirby, Acting Assistant Secretary For Western Hemisphere Affairs Mari Carmen Aponte, Deputy Chief of Staff Tom Sullivan, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, and NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs Director Mark Feierstein.