On May 25, Paul Rios, collaborator of Agirre Lehendakaria Center, participated in the International Congress “No volver a la Guerra”, held in Colombia. 

The University of Medellin and the “Avanza Colombia” Foundation, a social entity which promotes social transformation in this South American country and is very active in building peace and reconciliation promotion, organized the event. 

Euskadi has undergone through a profound social transformation in recent decades, which has allowed it to achieve high levels of equality. The construction of peace has been a key element in this transformation. Paul Rios shared this experience with more than 2000 attendees at the Congress, as well as other different lessons learned along the Basque peace process. He strongly emphasized on the importance articulating social initiatives have, by offering alternatives to violence and spaces for solutions and construction of coexistence based on ethical principles, respect and dialogue.

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At the same time, Rios highlighted the high degree of innovation that characterizes the Basque peace process, to the extent that it does not respond to the classic negotiation schemes between governments and armed organizations. He stressed that its strength, and at the same time its sustainability, is given by the capacity shown to find out solutions based on the protagonist acquired by society and the Basque institutions.

The Congress was also an opportunity to experience magical moments. For the first time, members of the FARC, ELN and other representatives of former paramilitary organizations, such as the “Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia” (AUC), gathered together. It was especially emotional when representatives of FARC and the AUC merged in a hug at the end of their conference.

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The peace process in Colombia is not easy. It is now living complicated moments due to the difficulty of implementing the peace agreements, as a consequence of so many years of war and hatred. But images like those lived in Medellin allow us to hope they will be able to build peace.eanwhile, from the Agirre Lehendakaria Center, the Basque experience will continue to be shared to the extent that it may inspire Colombia's path towards reconciliation.