Who is Francisco Galindo Vélez, mediator between the PSOE and Junts?

PSOE and Junts have chosen the Salvadoran diplomat Francisco Galindo Velez as “coordinator of the international mechanism” who will act as a verifier in the bilateral meetings held by both parties and, in fact, has already participated in the first meeting, held this Saturday in Switzerland.

Vélez, 68, has served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in France, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Egypt, from the late 1980s to 2008. His resume also highlights having been a representative regional deputy in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba and Belize between 1987 and 2008. He later served in Paris as representative of El Salvador, between 2010 and 2015. His current destination is consul in Bogotá.

Galindo has a law degree and a degree in Legal and Political Sciences. He has a master’s degree from New York University, in addition to PhD studies at the University Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva.

The diplomat who must guard the progress of the agreements between the PSOE and Junts, which will trigger the investiture pact that facilitated the re-election of Pedro Sánchez, He has experienced deep-seated internal conflicts up close. Galindo Vélez has been a relevant witness of the negotiation process between the Colombian State and the FARC which led in 2016 to the signing of a peace agreement that marked the end of an armed conflict that lasted more than half a century and that had caused more than 400,000 deaths.

The diplomat highlighted the strategic intelligence of the then president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, by pledging his political prestige in favor of peace. Galindo Vélez was not an indifferent witness to this complex process: he participated, on behalf of his country, in the United Nations monitoring and verification mission of the compliance with the Havana agreements between the Government and the insurgency.

The Colombian experience was followed through the lens of what had happened in its own country in the early 1990s, when, after a prolonged civil war, the Government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) They laid the foundations for a peace agreement that was signed in 1992.

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“In my country it seemed impossible to reach that solution because there were no meeting points between the guerrillas and the Government, and because there were death squads that illegally fought the rebels. But as soon as the peace efforts began, the squads they demobilized,” he recalled. In that sense, what happened in El Salvador left him a clear lesson about the value of negotiations despite the adversities that arise on the political horizon. The way in which Santos and the FARC arrived in the Cuban capital to sign an agreement that seemed unthinkable a few years ago ratified that conviction. Both the FMLN and the Colombian guerrillas eventually transformed into political parties.

For the diplomat, the presence of the UN and citizen participation were important to travel this path in better conditions. Galindo Vélez believes that a “imperfect peace“is always better than war or other forms of violent confrontation.