Challenges and alternatives towards peacebuilding

a rural development perspective

how to cite this book

Castillo Burbano, A. M. y Guerrero Martínez, C. A. (Eds.) (2020). Challenges and alternatives towards peacebuilding: a rural development perspective (Philippe White, Transl.). Bogotá: Ediciones UCC y Centro Editorial Uniminuto. (Original title published in 2020).

Challenges and alternatives towards peacebuilding

a rural development perspective


Ángela Marcela Castillo Burbano

Claudia Andrea Guerrero Martínez


Israel Biel Portero

Andrea Carolina Casanova Mejía

Amanda Janneth Riascos Mora

Alba Lucy Ortega Salas

Luis Andrés Salas Zambrano

Franco Andrés Montenegro Coral

Julie Andrea Benavides Melo

Deicy Andrea Villarreal Rodríguez

Ángela Roció Mora Caicedo

Claudia Andrea Guerrero Martínez

Karen Eugenia Ocaña Figueroa

Natalia Villota Benavides

Juan Camilo Fajardo Goyes

Álvaro Mauricio Chamorro Rosero

Ronald Mauricio Urbina Ibarra

Ángela Marcela Castillo Burbano

Fernando Andrés Mosquera Navia

David Eduardo López Pantoja

Jesús Esteban Guerrero Fajardo

Research Project:

Rural development alternatives for peacebuilding: educational strategies to strengthen the ability of producers and young people that contribute to the coffee production chain in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes of the department of Nariño, with international impact in the province of Carchi-Ecuador

Julián Pacheco Martínez

Daniel Urquijo Molina

Camilo Moncada Morales

Andrés Felipe Andrade Cañón

Claudia Carolina Caicedo Baquero

Yeraldin Xiomara Sua Páez

Héctor Gómez

Authors: Israel Biel Portero et al.

ISBN (printed): 978-958-760-237-1

ISBN (PDF): 978-958-760-239-5

ISBN (EPUB): 978-958-760-238-8

Original ISBN: 978-958-763-400-6


Philippe White

Kilka Diseño Gráfico

Matilde Salazar

Xpres Estudio Gráfico y Digital S. A. S.

First Edition, Bogotá, Colombia, June 2020.

300 examples

This work is in copyright. It is subject to statutory exceptions and to the provisions of relevant licensing agreements; with the exception of the Creative Commons version the link for which is provided below, no reproduction of any part of this work may take place without the written permission of Ediciones UCC and Corporación Universitaria Minuto de DIos University Press.

Catalogación en la publicación – Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia

Challenges and alternatives towards peacebuilding: a rural development perspective / compilers, Ángela Marcela Castillo Burbano, Claudia Andrea Guerrero Martínez; authors, Israel Biel Portero… [et al.]. -- Bogotá: Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia : Uniminuto, 2020.

284 p.

It includes references. – Original title: Retos y alternativas para la construcción de paz.

ISBN 978-958-760-237-1 -- 978-958-760-239-5 (pdf) -- 978-958-760-238-8 (e-pub)

1. Peace building - Colombia 2. Peace Process - Colombia 3. Rural development - Colombia I. Castillo Burbano, Ángela Marcela II. Guerrero Martínez, Claudia Andrea III. Biel Portero, Israel

CDD: 303.6609861 ed. 23 CO-BoBN–


Rural development and peacebuilding in Colombia have been highly prioritized by higher education institutions since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the National Government and the FARC-EP. This has resulted in the need to further analyze rural strategies that contribute towards a better life for the population of territories where armed conflict is coming to an end, whilst understanding the pressing uncertainty that this process implies; on the one hand, for the urgency of generating rapid and concrete responses to social justice and equity, and on the other, because fulfilling the agreement guarantees scenarios of non-repetition of the war in the country.

These were some of the reflections that motivated the research project “Rural development alternatives for peacebuilding: educational strategies to strengthen the ability of producers and young people that contribute to the coffee production chain in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes of the department of Nariño, with international impact in the province of Carchi-Ecuador”. This work is presented as an investigative result that contains the analysis of theoretical and territorial dynamic contributions regarding the construction of peace, education and the economy for rural development.

The book is made up of three parts: Part 1 gathers sociological, legal and demographic works on the challenges of peacebuilding with the national and departmental context of Nariño, and looks at human rights from the perspective of population health and quality of life. Part 2 presents texts on the dynamics of rural education in Colombia; national challenges and lessons learned based on case studies of specific forms of education. Part 3 presents economic analyses regarding the models that are behind the conception of rural development and the productive and institutional dynamics of the local sphere for the generation of employment and income.

All three parts are relevant at both the national level and also the more specific area of the department of Nariño and within this, the Cordillera region. This area, historically affected by the armed conflict, despite experiencing continuing uncertainty regarding the resurgence of violence and the increase in illegal crops, has also reignited hope with regards to finding solutions to the problems seen in the countryside; through educational, community and productive experiments.

Although there are contradictory dynamics, the authors agree that the rural territory is a scene of permanent and collective construction, mediated by constant social struggles and power disputes with the State. It is therefore necessary to rethink the strategies for implementing the Peace Agreement in this region, with participatory scenarios being provided to include the rationale specific to rurality, such as: justice and reconciliation, social pedagogy, pertinence of study and student retention rates, social and solidarity economy, productive associativity, demographic conditions and health; including the physical, mental and social wellbeing of rural workers. With this work, we hope to reflect collectively with academics and human rights activists, spurring an increase in studies of rural areas and those analyses of community and innovative strategies that reinforce the road towards the construction of a lasting peace with social justice in Colombia.

Keywords: peacebuilding, human rights, rural development, rural education, rural economy.




Contextualization of the collective work


part 1. Peacebuilding and human rights

Chapter I. The challenges of building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia

Chapter II. Dynamics of conflict and post-agreement in the Nariñense territory

Chapter III. A sociodemographic view and a look at health conditions prior to the implementation of peace agreements in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes in Nariño

part 2. Education for Rural Development

Chapter IV. Education and pedagogy when faced with the challenges of rural Colombia

Chapter V. Challenges and opportunities of rural education in Nariño in the post-conflict context

Chapter VI. Strategies for student retention and wellbeing using virtual higher education as a tool for inclusion in the cases of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes - Sotomayor

Chapter VII. A look at rural development in Latin America: the agrarian question and the established economic models

Chapter VIII. Development and the solidarity economy: reflections on the peace agreement in Colombia

Chapter IX. Rural associativity and agricultural producers

Chapter X. Social responsibility: a strategy for rural strengthening

Chapter XI. The impact of good practices in coffee production as an alternative for rural development in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes

General conclusions of the study

List of Abbreviations



To the Ministry of National Education of Colombia, for making it possible for higher education institutions in Southwest Colombia, to participate in the “Call for the formation of a bank of eligible higher education projects that promote rural development through the formation of inter-institutional alliances”; an exploration of ideas to improve the conditions and quality of life of the department’s coffee growers.

To the institutions that participated in the inter-institutional alliance, led by the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia - Campus Pasto, the mediator for this research exercise, bringing together institutions such as the Corporación Unificada Nacional de Educación Superior (CUN) sede Pasto, Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios (UNIMINUTO), Centro Regional Pasto and the Universidad Politécnica Estatal del Carchi (UPEC), as allies within International Higher Education; and to the National Federation of Associated Coffee Growers in the department of Nariño, who joined forces to achieve the proposed objective during the development of the research exercise with the implementation of various strategic proposals.

To the community, the coffee growers and rural youth, who opened the doors to their homes, their land and their experiences when accompanying them in the process of formation and active participation, and were willing to take on new challenges.

To the research groups that formed the articulation of research processes between higher education institutions.

To the authors who, with their dedication and effort, have managed to collect, experience, interpret and reveal to the academic community, the reality of our country and the reality of the communities that participated in this project.


In his novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, the Czech writer Milán Kundera, recounts how communist leaders, not related to the Russian government, were erased from history. The crude and uncomplicated process consisted of modifying the photos where the indicated character had appeared, changing his name in the records of the speeches and forcing people to affirm that they did not know them. Obviously, this move, whose purpose was to stimulate oblivion, generated a public dynamic of acceptance, but promoted intimate reflection exercises, where people, in the most remote part of their homes and their memory, remembered those who no longer existed, with the purpose of keeping them alive, separated from slander.

This same form of memory preservation appears in the works of Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1982, who narrates in One Hundred Years of Solitude, that when José Arcadio Segundo asked about the massacre of the three thousand workers who demanded their rights in front of the banana company and everyone answered that that had not happened, he made it his duty to explain this to his people, his nephews and those of his household, as a story, to experience it, so that their memory somehow kept the events a reality; one that the inhabitants of Macondo now considered strange and pure fantasy.

Garcia Márquez and Milan Kundera are two examples of how literature extracts the facts of reality and captures them in a lively, exhilarating way so that in reading the texts you can once again feel the indignation, dismay, laughter, joy and lament that make up life. This practice of transmitting emotions is also carried out by the indigenous communities of Colombia, who make it their moral duty to pass on stories and legends to future generations through the spoken word, recounting the facts and events of their people, with the purpose of forming an identity, of knowing that they are someone and that they belong to each other.

From this practice of the indigenous communities, and paraphrasing the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who affirms that the configuration of the Self is defined by interpersonal relationships and by the historical relations of one’s ancestors, it can be said that there is a close relationship between memory and identity, in that we can only know what we are if we remember what our ancestors were. Paraphrasing a quote from Marx, we can say that our identity rises from the shoulders of our ancestors.

The book before the reader is perhaps a clear example of how memory seeks to survive, to make its existence evident. This is stronger in the Colombian territories, where its presence was more direct. For that reason, although we do not want to talk about it, it is irremediable to do so; it seeps out through the pores, where one least expects it. This document is not creative literature or fiction but the result of research by experts with different fields of expertise, who intend to trace a reality, to record a small period in time where the noise of weapons and the smell of the cordite, which sowed anxiety and uncertainty, gave way to the grinding of beans and the smell of coffee, sowing hope and enthusiasm among populations that believed for many years that they were the doomed lineage of which García Márquez spoke.

Those who scroll through the pages of this book will find two planes of interpretation; an obvious one, which can be seen by simply deciphering the characters recording the research results, ranging from historical readings, to proposals for rural education and observations on the development model, as well as the analysis of the health situation in the municipalities that are the subject of the research project. The other not-so-obvious plane, reveals the period in which the authors live, where hope forges a path to peace, making itself evident in the issues they address, generating in the reader the idea that we are moving in the direction of prosperity and a different reality from the one drawn out by the past 50 years. The first plane transmits information, the second arouses feelings; dreams that are hoped to not be fleeting.

In short, this book is born of a time in which Colombians dream of finally moving on from a dark moment of violence, and so, beyond thinking about the information within its pages, it is necessary to look at the strength and spirit that motivated those who wrote it; to finally highlight how the facts narrated here, the data and reflections provided, are the living record of an era that is unprecedented in history. It is as if we wanted to hold on to what we have, to prevent the force of the current in which we have been sailing from returning us to turbulent waters. For that reason, the plurality of voices, perspectives and themes, recorded in these pages, do not see coffee as a concrete thing or object, but as an event from which Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes formed different realities from what their pasts had mapped out.

In accordance with the above, we can say that this book is a memory of the attempt of the populations to seize the opportunity that they themselves have formed; of ex-combatants returning to the classrooms, of academics thinking about how to improve the quality of agricultural products and of reflections on rurality so as to cultivate solidarity. This type of memory contrasts with that which has persecuted Colombians for more than 50 years and shows the emergence of a new identity, which although real, is still fragile and is beset by many difficulties, especially the old habit of wanting to return to war due to a belief that this path is the only way to achieve transformations.

Apart from being a memory of hope for future generations to read, in the reflections that are woven between the lines of this document there is an implicit question that must be made explicitly and will be a constant concern of all professors, academics and researchers: If the entirety of the agreements signed in Havana are successfully implemented, can we (as Colombians) really identify ourselves as a people without armed conflict? Answering this question seems easy, but it is supremely complex. The question hides a dilemma of existence formulated years ago, in another country and with other situations, by the Greek poet Kavafis in his poem “Waiting for the barbarians”, where he alludes to the Greeks, seen by us as a splendorous and magical people who bequeathed us all their western wealth, but that in reality all their greatness was due to the barbarians and that is why, when the Greeks knew that the barbarians would no longer return, they said: “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution.”

Communities in the affected regions have already begun to think of a future without armed conflict and without armed actors; the evidence of this is here, in the results presented by the research project that motivated this book. All that remains is for the elites of our country to make the same reflection and hopefully they do not end up paraphrasing the last expression of Kavafis’ poem.

Romel Armando Hernandez Silva

Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Campus Pasto

Contextualization of the collective work

The research “Rural development alternatives for peacebuilding: educational strategies to strengthen the ability of producers and young people that contribute to the coffee production chain in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes of the department of Nariño, with international impact in the province of Carchi-Ecuador” arose from a call addressed to municipalities with Development Plans with a Territorial Focus (Spanish acronym PDET); sub-regional programs of comprehensive transformation of the rural area, for a period of 10 years in the territories most affected by armed conflict, poverty, illicit economies and institutional weakness. PDETs are a planning and management instrument to prioritize the implementation of the components of the “Reforma Rural Integral” or “Comprehensive Rural Reform” program and the relevant measures established by the Final Agreement for 170 prioritized municipalities with a total of 6.6 million inhabitants; 2.5 million of whom are victims of armed conflict and represent 36% of the national territory (Educando paz. Café de paz, 2018, pp. 14-16).

In this post-conflict scenario, to effectively respond to the requirements identified in the prioritized areas, the Ministry of National Education in May 2017, launched the “Call for the formation of a bank of eligible higher education projects that promote rural development by forming inter-institutional alliances”. This call was intended to invite higher education institutions to base their inventory of educational actions and projects around rural development and peacebuilding through the formation of inter-institutional alliances. In the case of the department of Nariño, the PDET of Alto Patía and Norte del Cauca and the PDET of Pacifico and Frontera Nariñense were prioritized.

The initiative by the institutions should be to develop one or several lines of work proposed by the Ministry of National Education: flexible adaptable educational models, educational access and student retention, and alliances for rural development. In the department of Nariño, the Rural Development Alliance was formed between the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (UCC) – Campus Pasto, the Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios (UNIMINUTO), the Corporación Unificada Nacional de Educación Superior (CUN), the Universidad Politécnica Estatal del Carchi (UPEC) in Ecuador and the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros – Comité Nariño.

One of the actions proposed by the inter-institutional alliance was this interdisciplinary project that involves the research groups: Indesco, La Minga, Eslinga, GIISE, GIOD of the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia and GICAEF of the Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios.

The authors of the book integrate academic experiences around the social, human, legal, economic and engineering sciences. The research shares a qualitative and quantitative approach to consolidate an exploratory scope, in topics that are rarely addressed in the territory of analysis (the Cordillera region of the department of Nariño), and descriptive scope by the analysis of the phenomena concerning rural development and peacebuilding.


“Peace requires a collective responsibility in order to leave a better place filled with hope for future generations”.

Alfredo Molano

Ángela Marcela Castillo Burbano

Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Campus Pasto

Territory has traditionally been understood as a geopolitical notion associated with the concepts of State, control, limits and borders. However, the analysis of territory in the Latin American region takes on particular nuances associated with the sociopolitical claim of marginalized groups; this means that the analysis of territory currently includes broader meanings about the spatial processes related to the production-reproduction of identity, the control and appropriation of natural resources, the autonomy dispute (Sandoval, Robertsdotter and Paredes, 2017), defense and the demands of social movements when faced with the violation of their rights, among other dynamics.

In that polysemic view of territory, the country has begun down the path of peacebuilding; a desired peace that finds its foundations in the territory and in the fulfillment of rights to the population that inhabits said space. Beyond the silencing of guns, the peace agreement must remediate the victims, guarantee constitutional rights to all Colombians and generate guarantees of protection and non-repetition. From there, the category of territorial peace arises, as the armed conflict affected some territories more than others and because the change must mobilize guarantees of peace to the most affected (Jaramillo, 2014).

One of the main causes of the armed conflict, recognized by many academics, is the historical debt of the State to the Colombian countryside (Molano, Estrada, Restrepo). There has been a stronger spatial evolution of the conflict in rural settings; which is why one of the approaches adopted by this work involves rural development as a strategy for the consolidation of territorial peace. This process of rural progress through territorial development refers specifically to the local scnerarios; that is, the relevance of considering local particularities in the face of national or global homogenizing trends. In other words, the rural environment invites us to analyze the specificities of the environment, our own social and spatial capacities, and also the power disputes between local and external actors so as to guide the planning and territorial management processes in a way that satisfies social needs over a broad spectrum of human rights.

This research book starts by broadening the discussion on the subject, territorially involving three municipalities in the Cordillera region of the department of Nariño, characterized by a permanent territorial conflict with dynamics such as: the high incidence of armed conflict, the concentration of illegal armed groups, the low direct presence of the State, the low institutional offer for the generation of initiatives in territorial development, the weak road infrastructure that hinders access to municipalities, and the low coverage of basic services for the population. The context in question indicates a high vulnerability for a population of around 44,000 inhabitants in 2018. With the signing of the “Acuerdo Final de Paz” or “Final Peace Agreement” and the deployment of the instruments for its implementation, concrete actions are expected to reduce this vulnerability and uncertainty in the population. Once the agreements were signed, the silencing of the guns diminished the violence significantly, however, with the departure of the FARC-EP from the territory and the absence of the State, the territory in question is permeated by a deployment of new armed groups, dissidents, rearmed guerrillas or paramilitary groups, sparking warnings of a new conflict.

The aforementioned requires the fulfillment and effective implementation of the points contemplated in the Agreement and a permanent inter-institutional accompaniment to develop territorial management actions, in the understanding that the consolidation of territorial peace for the area of the Nariñense mountain range not only depends on the signature of an agreement, but of a high regional cohesion that firmly plants the organizational and associative capacity of the population, the agricultural vocation and the natural and cultural diversity of the territory in the foundations of its territorial planning.

Studying the different situations that the present peace agreement evokes within the territory, at the national level in Colombia and local level in the Nariñense mountain range, motivated the present collective work within the framework of the research project in which different research groups, attached to the universities of the inter-institutional alliance, participated.

The research methodology responds to a mixed methodological approach related to epistemological lines of the social sciences, integrating interdisciplinary studies of the socio-legal, sociological, demographic, economic and territorial order. For this reason, the work benefits from a methodological diversity and various information gathering techniques that combine quantitative techniques (with the generation of statistics and indicator analyses) with qualitative techniques (that combine document reviews, theoretical conceptualization and focus groups) to generate contributions in the comprehension of social phenomena.

The work, divided into three parts, places special emphasis on the three rural development objectives sought by the institutional alliance of universities and the Ministry of National Education: contribute to the educational field in rural settings affected by the armed conflict, identify opportunities for inclusion and economic dynamics, and energize citizen participation, thereby bolstering reflection on peace agreements, their challenges and opportunities in Colombia. The first part of the book, called “Construction of peace and human rights”, focuses on the academic discussion surrounding what happened, at both the national level and in Nariño, regarding the historical process of peacebuilding and human rights, seen in the Final Agreement for the end of conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace, between the FARC- EP and the National Government. The second part, called “Education for rural development”, analyzes education as a fundamental right and as an energizing axis of rural development, prioritizing the different educational needs of rurality and the relevance required to boost social mobility in that environment. The third and last part of the book, called “Economic models of rural development and local productive dynamics”, contemplates two views; the first, on critical debates about theories of rural development, economic models and the agrarian question, in contrast to the alternatives towards a more supportive economy, and the second takes up the criteria of territorial development to analyze factors that can help in its fulfillment through social responsibility, associativity and productive opportunities for quality coffee.

In the first chapter, the authors Israel Biel and Andrea Casanova analyze the most important current challenges in building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia: the issue of the Colombian countryside and the need to emphasize the Comprehensive Rural Reform that provides a solution to the illicit drug problems; and the transformation of the armed confrontation into an open political discussion with guarantees of democratic spaces and rights for the victims, structured around a system of judicial and extrajudicial mechanisms aimed at guaranteeing the truth, reparations, justice and non-repetition. The challenges that have been analyzed seem to stall, with the same difficulties and setbacks observed during the implementation of the Agreement. This reflects a resurgence of violence in Nariño, along with an increase in crops for illicit use and other dynamics that imply rethinking the implementation strategies for this region.

The dynamics of the conflict and the post-agreement in Nariñense territory is analyzed by Amanda Riascos and Alba Lucy Ortega in the second chapter. The authors agree with the analysis made in the first chapter by Biel and Casanova and take a closer look at the set of instruments and mechanisms addressed to promote post-agreement transformations. With a reflective approach, they find that conflict is a social effect that will be present in the department of Nariño and that its accentuation will be proportional to the extent that structural social problems are not resolved. Therefore, a culture of conflict resolution is necessary with peaceful negotiation strategies that make it possible to maintain coexistence in the territories with clear policies of economic opportunities, education and social inclusion.

In the third chapter, the authors Andrés Salas, Franco Montenegro and Julie Benavides conduct a study that positions health as a fundamental human right. Therefore, they develop a demographic analysis, on the health conditions of the population of the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes, to project the current quality of life of the rural population and explain how the implementation of the Peace Agreement can improve this situation, resolving epidemiological problems that affect physical, mental and social wellbeing at different life stages of the population: early childhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and the elderly.

The fourth chapter, by Deicy Villarreal, addresses the challenges of education and pedagogy in rurality. They can lead to social transformation if the contributions of social pedagogy are resumed, leading criticism, reflection, freedom through historical knowledge, social justice and the search for good living with alternative pedagogical processes; contextualized and built participatively with the populations that contribute to the construction of peace in the territories.

Along the same lines, the fifth chapter, by Ángela Mora and Claudia Guerrero, emphasizes the criteria of quality and relevance of rural education as a factor that has had a negative impact on rural poverty, armed conflict and the development of illegal economies.

The sixth chapter, by Karen Ocaña, Natalia Villota and Camilo Fajardo, shows the educational experience of the 45 young beneficiaries of the “Rural Development Alternatives” project and the importance of planning rural education environments that make it possible to reduce student dropout rates using strategies of academic support, student welfare, entrepreneurship and graduate support.

The seventh chapter, by Mauricio Chamorro and Ronal Urbina, theoretically analyzes the relationship of rural and agrarian studies with the prevailing economic models of Latin America. The authors encounter divergent approaches and political initiatives over the last 80 years in the region. However, they recognize that the rural territory is a scenario of permanent and collective construction, mediated by constant social struggles and disputes with the State, to the extent that it seeks to factor in the logic and rationality of rurality so that they become real instruments of rural development.

The eighth chapter, by Ángela Marcela Castillo Burbano, reflects on viable paths to consolidate rural development in Colombia; through social and solidarity economy practices. It argues that to overcome the limitations of conventional development paradigms, alternative fundamental conditions of good living must be considered: a broad guarantee of rights, the sovereignty of the State and the consolidation of public policies with the opening to new concepts and approaches, such as that provided by food sovereignty, the right to water and the rights of Nature.

The authors Alba Lucy Ortega and Amanda Riascos, in the ninth chapter, suggest that the formation of associations in the rural sector is a fundamental factor that can strengthen the potential of productive sectors, in order for communities to contribute to rural development, based on strategies that improve skills for the sustainability of rural enterprises.

In the tenth chapter, the authors Alba Lucy Ortega and Claudia Guerrero analyze, in a cross-cutting manner, corporate social responsibility as a strategy that stimulates investment, production and marketing activities in the countryside, addressing areas of governance, human rights, labor practices and the environment. Their case study of the “Federación de Cafeteros” or “Federation of Coffee Growers” provides insight into how a second-degree organization affects rural productive dynamics and how coffee production activity can be improved in territories dedicated to agriculture or in territories where this production has been decided as an alternative to the cultivating of crops for illicit use.

Finally, the eleventh chapter, by authors David López, Andrés Mosquera and Esteban Guerrero, punctually analyzes the economic opportunities of coffee for the generation of employment and income in the municipalities of Leiva, Policarpa and Los Andes, to the extent that they replicate quality and specialty criteria that generate greater added value and take advantage of opportunities in the market.

The ensemble of these chapters should demonstrate an academic work that tries to cast a light on the multiple dialogues around rural development from a polysemic and critical perspective that incorporates the visible realities of the territory. The Nariñense mountain range is a region full of cultural and ecological diversity with a significant community fabric, driven by leaders who hope to overcome the consequences of the armed conflict and interweave the paths of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition. Current efforts, in adding inter-institutional and community alliances, are not enough and it should be a permanent task to ensure that the rural population appropriates the role of protagonist in this unfinished peacebuilding process.


Jaramillo, S. (2014). La paz territorial. Presentación en la Universidad de Harvard, Cambridge, MA, Estados Unidos.

Molano, A. (Mayo de 2016). Lanzamiento de la Revista de Derechos Humanos, No.1 ¿Cuándo Nace La Esperanza?. Evento llevado a cabo en la Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Pasto, Colombia.

Nussbaum, M. (2016). Paz en Colombia: perspectivas, desafíos, opciones. Buenos Aires: CLACSO.

Sandoval, M. F. L., Robertsdotter, A. y Paredes, M. (2017). Space, power, and locality: The contemporary use of territorio in Latin American Geography. Journal of Latin American Geography, 16(1), 43-67.

how to cite this chapter

Biel Portero, I. & Casanova Mejía, A. C. (2019). The challenges of building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia. In Á. M. Castillo Burbano & C. A. Guerrero Martínez (comps.), Challenges and alternatives towards peacebuilding: a rural development perspective (Philippe White, Transl.) (pp. 29-53). Bogota: Ediciones UCC & Centro Editorial Uniminuto. (Original title published in 2019).

Chapter I

The challenges of building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia

Israel Biel Portero, Andrea Carolina Casanova Mejía


Following the Final Peace Agreement, signed between the Government and the FARC-EP, Colombia faces countless challenges in order to satisfy and guarantee the rights of historically excluded and underprivileged populations in different political, economic and social contexts. Therefore, the construction of a stable and lasting peace implies rethinking not only the old structures that generate inequality and poverty in the country, but also the way of understanding justice and reconciliation. In this sense, this chapter aims to review transitional justice as a set of instruments and mechanisms aimed at promoting such transformations, identifying in turn the major developments and particular challenges of the department of Nariño.

Keywords: armed conflict, peace agreement, transitional justice, human rights and rural development.


Tras el Acuerdo Final de Paz suscrito entre el Gobierno y las FARC-EP, Colombia se enfrenta a un sinnúmero de desafíos para satisfacer y garantizar los derechos de poblaciones históricamente excluidas y vulneradas en los diferentes contextos políticos, económicos y sociales. Por eso, la construcción de una paz estable y duradera implica repensar, no solo las viejas estructuras generadoras de desigualdad y pobreza en el país, sino también el modo de entender la justicia y la reconciliación. En este sentido, el presente capítulo tiene como objetivo realizar un acercamiento a la justicia transicional como un conjunto de instrumentos y mecanismos dirigidos a promover dichas trasformaciones, identificando a su vez los principales avances y retos concretos del departamento de Nariño.

Palabras clave: conflicto armado, acuerdo de paz, justicia transicional, derechos humanos y desarrollo rural.


The guarantee of success from the negotiated exit to the armed conflict in Colombia requires a rigorous analysis of the factors that explain its origin, its temporary extension and its complexity. If the problems and circumstances that motivated and intensified the armed confrontation are not addressed and corrected, it will be very difficult to achieve a peace that is stable and lasting. Thus, when analyzing the challenges of peacebuilding in Colombia, one inevitably refers to the processes involved in the transformation of land use and tenure, to the opening of real spaces of political and citizen participation, to the satisfaction and guarantee of the rights of victims, those who have suffered serious violations of their human rights or where infractions of International Humanitarian Law have taken place and, especially, to the set of instruments and mechanisms of transitional justice that will boost the transformation of a society moving from war to peace.

The armed conflict has been experienced in a very heterogeneous way throughout the national territory. Rural areas have been more affected than urban areas and some departments have suffered the dynamics of war more than others. Nariño has been one of the territories most affected by violence. Its geographical conditions have made the department a strategic point of the armed conflict. The concurrence of all armed actors in the conflict and the entrenched presence of drug trafficking, combined with the poverty and structural inequalities within the region, configure Nariño as an enclave of extreme vulnerability.

This chapter aims to present a systematic analysis of the antecedents of the armed conflict from a regional perspective, its political, economic and social repercussions, as well as the post-conflict challenges of peacebuilding through a transitional justice process.

The political and agrarian dispute: background to the armed conflict in Colombia

Colombia has seen more than half a century of continuous armed violence, albeit with varying intensity. The longevity of the conflict has also transformed the actors involved, the strategies used and the ways of conducting the war; factors that when combined, directly affect the different degrees and modalities of victimization.

The Colombian war is not exclusively a war of combatants. In its modalities and dynamics, it has been generating what could be defined as a process of outsourcing its impacts, since it has increasingly affected non-belligerent actors; mainly the civilian population. Nor is it a clean war or, at least, it can been disputed under the mandates of International Humanitarian Law. The prolongation and degradation of the violence used by the armed actors broke the ethical and legal limits of the war, exposing one of the characteristic features of the Colombian conflict; the tendency to indiscriminately choose methods and targets.

If we delve into the roots of this problem, a critical reading of the history of Colombia as a nation shows that, since its inception, the country has lived in a permanent state of conflict due –essentially– to two factors; the political power dispute and the control of the land and its natural resources.

Power and political participation

The constant limitations to democracy have been an incentive for the prolongation of the conflict. These are manifested in actions of state power that materialize in restrictive forms of political and citizen participation, protest and dissent, carried out through legitimate and illegitimate measures, as well as under the configuration of long derogation periods that lasted until the expedition of the current Political Constitution of 1991; circumstances that resulted in the decrease of individual rights and freedoms of citizens.

As a consequence of the political power dispute and the traditional competition between the elites, we witnessed the persecution and murder of presidential candidates, the privatization of public corporations, the extermination of social movements, raids, detentions, torture and disappearances, among other crimes committed under the shadow of constant disagreement between liberals and conservatives. But it was not until the murder of the liberal leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, in April 1948, when the deepest differences between the two traditional political parties emerged, giving rise to the first guerrilla movements. These were initially sponsored by the liberal party as an armed response to the abuses of the conservative government of Laureano Gómez who, supported by military forces and some ecclesiastical sectors, had implemented a policy of extermination of the opposing party during the historical period known as “La Violencia” or “The Violence”.

However, the desire for power of both parties led to the liberal leaders, having fled the country before the conservative harassment in the toughest stage of La Violencia, making an agreement with Laureano Gómez and his party to form the coalition of the “Frente Nacional” or “National Front” and relieve the de facto president, General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, from power. And so, a new political period of equitable distribution of power between liberals and conservatives began, replacing the previous efforts and achievements of pacifists, in large part, by social and guerrilla movements.

The guerrilla leaders that survived this period considered the agreed upon terms as a betrayal by the liberal chiefs, so they reoriented their discourse as liberal guerrillas towards Marxist ideas –encouraged, in turn, by the triumph of the Cuban Revolution– and began to nurture the prospect of taking power by force and defeating the government in power. They were especially motivated by their main objective; of ending the pact between liberals and conservatives, which had excluded them from any possibility of political participation within the State.

The dominant concept –from which power was approached, the conflict originated and the insurgency inspired– was based on the binary ideological schemes associated with the context of the East-West conflict, ignoring the diagnoses of the underlying social problems. This was a position shared by both private unions and the Government.

For example:

The military treatment given to the guerrilla movement was the same as that given to social protest, which was criminalized. The issuance of the “Estatuto de Seguridad” or “Security Statute” by the Turbay government, promulgated by Decree 1923 of September 6th, 1978, is proof of this. Through this statute, the military was granted the power to judge the common crimes of civilians, rendering the application of Habeas Corpus useless. (López, 1999, p. 1405).

Concurrent to the strengthening of the insurgency and the escalation of the armed conflict, drug trafficking appeared as a phenomenon that, although not a root cause of the conflict, has been one of the main causes of its intensification and aggravation. Drug trafficking, especially linked to the cultivation of coca and the production and export of cocaine, permeated all the social and political structures of the State. It brought with it almost unlimited resources, which resulted in an expansion and resurgence of the conflict that almost ended the State itself. (Vacas, 2015, p. 80).

Thus, in light of the attacks by different guerrilla groups on drug traffickers, emerald miners and cattle ranchers, particularly, under the government of Ernesto Samper, the go-ahead was given for the creation of the Convivir, Rural Security Cooperatives of a private nature in charge of informing agents of the State on the presence of guerrillas. These cooperatives eventually became the “Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia” or “United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia”, a paramilitary organization that, with the support of the “lords and landowners” was constituted as the largest criminal structure that ever existed in the country, turning the nineties and part of the new century into one of the most bloodthirsty and violent periods in Colombia’s history.

Both guerrillas and paramilitaries have instrumentalized the institutions and mechanisms of democracy according to their interests; not only the elections, but also the spaces for social participation, protest and social movements, such as community boards or unions. Both have violently punished the gestures of autonomy made by communities and social leaders. Democracy has been seen by all armed actors as both a positioning opportunity and, in turn, a threat to their war plans. Thus, the different forms of struggle have been combined, dangerously mixing war and politics. Therefore, from this perspective, the great victim of this conflict has been democracy itself (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, 2013, p. 52).

Armed conflict and land control

Together with political control, the agrarian question constitutes one of the central axes of the Colombian armed conflict. In the opinion of the “Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica” or “National Historical Memory Center”:

It is not only because the land remains an unfulfilled promise for a large part of the rural population, but also because until the Peace Accords are signed, there is a state deficit in the countryside and a strong, firmly rooted presence of armed groups that today have found adequate space for the exercise of illicit activities, such as drug trafficking, in the rural sector. (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, 2013, p. 49).

The land problem is not a recent issue, but instead has been brewing from the nineteenth century through to the present day. The land issue has been determined by different political, institutional and legislative actions over the different historical periods, and characterized by a common denominator; the continuance of the concentration of agricultural property in the hands of a minority, which is the main cause of the serious situation of poverty and social inequality that characterizes Colombia, especially in rural areas.

There are three fundamental periods to understanding the worsening of this conflict. The first, from the end of the 19th century until 1958, where the result of the Thousand Days’ War and the promulgation of the Political Constitution of 1886, consolidated a national project in which the elites held power, leaving out the rest of society. This caused a social upheaval, promoted mainly by the “campesino”1 population, who saw how wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few, resulting in conflicts between large landowners and smallholders. This occurred under the influence of three major crises: the demographic, which affected the balance between the population and natural resources, the opening of the land market and the integration of campesino production into trade channels, and the crisis of authority, which weakened the power of traditional elites and dislocated the mechanisms of domination (Bejarano, 1985).