On 3 October 2017, Colombia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Patti Londoño Jaramillo visited the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) to deliver a lecture titled "Challenges for Today’s Diplomats.” PISM Director, Sławomir Dębski opened the event and recalled that it was a subsequent visit of a representative of the Colombian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (in February 2013 Minister María Angela Holguín Cuellar paid a visit to PISM.)
Deputy Minister Londoño talked about the development of Colombian-Polish relations and that an essential task for both governments had been to understand their positions on the current international challenges. The vice-minister highlighted the importance of Poland’s status as an observer to the Pacific Alliance, which she considered as the most important regional integration organisation in Latin America at present. She claimed that transformations in Colombia have shown that the reality changed faster than how people perceived it. There is an impression that Colombia is still a global narcotics production hub.
The Deputy Minister mostly focused on the peace process in Colombia for which the 2016 agreement between the government and the largest guerrilla – FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was a key moment. She reminded that the agreement was refused in the referendum held on 2 October 2016. It appeared that the sole need for peace is not enough to convince voters, as acceptance for the conditions (and the costs) of peace are indispensable. Ms. Londoño claimed that fake news related to negative results expected from the deal (which led to the spreading of fear about the new reality fo those who had become accustomed to living with conflict) were among the factors that led to the refusal of the accord with FARC. Another explanation was low youth turn-out.
The Colombian government’s key response to the referendum’s results was to obtain confirmation of international partners on their support to the continuity of the peace process. Reversing it was not the right option, especially because the deal was not just about a ceasefire, but about broad transformation. For example it included introduction of ex-FARC members to civil life, criminal liability issues and rural development. A new accord was agreed to in November and later ratified by the Colombian Parliament. Nevertheless, as confirmed by Deputy Minister Londoño, approving an agreement is just the first step. Implementing it is a much bigger challenge.
The speech was followed by a Q&A session. The Deputy Minister answered questions about the peace process and about related challenges related to the crisis in Venezuela and the current U.S. administration’s foreign policy. She also was asked about Colombians’ “peace process fatigue” and how to improve youth participation in politics.
Prepared by: Bartłomiej Znojek
Patti Londoño-Jaramillo, The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs has a PhD in Political Science and International Affairs, teaches and is a researcher at the School of Finance, Government and International Relations of Universidad Externado de Colombia. She has co-written books on the United Nations and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, along with former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Fernando Jaramillo. She completed undergraduate and graduate studies in Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. Her doctoral thesis was on the construction of the Final Document of the 2005 United Nations Summit. Ms. Jaramillo is also the author of several publications on the United States and South Africa, as well as of articles on international issues published in specialized magazines.