• Costa Rica Real Estate

Demining Colombia will take ‘a generation’: minister

December 29, 2015
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Clearing the landmines from the half-century conflict in Colombia, which has the most mines of any country outside Afghanistan, will take a generation, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas says.

As the Colombian government and FARC rebels close in on a landmark peace deal, anti-personnel mines are one of the biggest problems facing the South American country in its post-conflict transition.

Landmines have killed more than 2,000 people and wounded more than 8,000 others in Colombia since 1982, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, an activist group.

“Demining Colombia will take a generation, tens of thousands of specialists and lots of international aid,” Villegas told AFP in an interview.

“Mines are the biggest challenge facing post-conflict Colombia,” said the defense minister, who was appointed in May by President Juan Manuel Santos.

Villegas said the army is preparing a massive training program to scale up the number of soldiers trained to clear mines from 600 today to 10,000 by mid-2016.

The Colombian conflict has drawn in several leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) launched its uprising against the government in 1964.

The conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted six million.

It has also left nearly the entire country littered with mines. Of Colombia’s 32 departments, 31 have been hit by landmine explosions that killed or maimed their victims — often civilians, including more than 1,000 children.

In March, the FARC and the government announced an agreement to work together on clearing mines.

After more than three years of peace talks, the Marxist rebels and the government say they are making progress and vowed in September to sign a final accord within six months.

Villegas praised a breakthrough deal on post-conflict justice that set the stage for that pledge.

It would grant an amnesty for all but the most serious crimes and set up special courts to try both soldiers and rebels accused of atrocities, with lighter sentences for those who confess.

The defense minister, who was formerly a government negotiator at the peace talks, called the agreement “very important for peace.”

“This system has the support of the armed forces. It makes ending the conflict viable,” he said.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

USNS Comfort mission to arrive in Costa Rica this weekend
Costa Rica
719 views
Costa Rica
719 views

USNS Comfort mission to arrive in Costa Rica this weekend

Alejandro Zúñiga - July 16, 2019

Costa Rica will receive this weekend the USNS Comfort, a United States Navy hospital ship, as part of the vessel's…

Pic of the Day: The works of Costa Rican artist Jorge Jiménez Deredia
Pic of the Day
220 views
Pic of the Day
220 views

Pic of the Day: The works of Costa Rican artist Jorge Jiménez Deredia

AFP and The Tico Times - July 16, 2019

Today's featured photo shows the sculpture "Genesis de Huevo" by Italy-based Costa Rican artist Jorge Jiménez Deredia as it appeared…

Costa Rican students continue protests over public education programs
Costa Rica
530 views
Costa Rica
530 views

Costa Rican students continue protests over public education programs

Monserrat Cordero Parra and Rita Valverde / Semanario Universidad - July 15, 2019

Costa Rican high school students demonstrated Monday in front of the Rofas Building in San José and closed educational centers…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!