Colombian Government and FARC Agree to Eradicate Poverty in Rural Areas

By Dialogo
January 28, 2013

The Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas said on January 24 that they have “gotten closer” towards eradicating rural poverty and transforming the Colombian countryside, even though they still differ on other points of the agenda during the peace talks in Havana.

“An extensive analysis regarding land access was made, and commonalities regarding eradicating rural poverty and achieving an agrarian transformation were raised among both delegations,” a joint statement said, which was revealed after 11 days of negotiations.

These aspirations must be achieved “through sustainable, comprehensive programs aimed to democratize land access regulate and provide security to property, and ensure the welfare of a majority of farmers and rural population,” the statement added.

“The conversations are moving forward in a respectful and comprehensive dialogue,” the Colombian government’s head of negotiations and former vice president Humberto de la Calle told the press. “There are similarities in the desire to transform the countryside, although there remain notable differences,” he added.

In a press conference, the lead negotiator for the FARC, Iván Márquez, also acknowledged that “despite some areas of agreement (…), there are substantive differences to overcome.”

In Colombia, 52% of rural property is concentrated among 1.15% of the population, while the rest holds small and medium sized areas, according to the 2011 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme.

Since the negotiations started in Havana on November 19, they have been centered on the complex agrarian issues. The agenda also includes four other points: illicit drugs, political participation, disarmament, and reparations for victims.

During the round of talks that concluded on January 24, the guerrillas urged the government to “hold back the hurried advance” of bills that relate to issues on the agenda for peace talks, including a new Land Act.

“It would be inexplicable” if the Land Act “was addressed in the (Colombian Congress) chambers without considering the points of view shared during the peace talks in Havana,” the FARC stated in a letter sent on January 16, to Colombian Minister of Agriculture Juan Camilo Restrepo, who was also invited to attend the talks in Havana.

Juan Manuel Santos’ government set November 2013 as the deadline for concluding the negotiations, and the FARC announced that “a new period of talks will start in Havana on January 31,” not Tuesday the 29th as it had been previously announced.