Colombian Government Seeks to Accelerate Negotiations with FARC

By Dialogo
January 15, 2013

The Colombian government seeks to accelerate the peace talks with the communist FARC guerrillas, head of the official negotiators Humberto de la Calle said before leaving for Cuba to resume talks on January 14.

“We need a better pace. I want it to reach public opinion and the FARC,” former Colombian Vice President told the press.

Negotiators appointed by President Juan Manuel Santos’s government traveled to Havana, Cuba, after the Christmas and New Year’s holiday recess, on January 13.

The talks, which started in the Cuban capital on November 19, 2012, have developed “slowly,” confirmed President Santos in December, after receiving a report from negotiators.

Santos has set November 2013 as a deadline for reaching an agreement with the FARC.

“We want to move with responsibility, but at a rate in which the country expects to reach the results to benefit Colombia,” De la Calle added.

He assured that “the government team is aware of the desire for peace in the country,” and that is the reason why they are involved in these talks with “realism, seriousness, dignity, and without generating false expectations about the results.”

He highlighted the government delegates and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would resume the discussion about rural development on January 14, the first of five points in the previously agreed negotiation agenda.

Former Vice President De la Calle revealed that the parties were already “discussing each one of the specific issues” of the first agenda topic.

The other four subjects to be discussed include: drug trafficking, rights of the victims of the armed conflict, guerrillas’ transition into political life, and the mechanics of the armed conflict’s end with the FARC, which have been in an armed battle against the State for 48 years.

De la Calle added that “we have a long way ahead. There is a chance for peace, and we hope it is settled in concrete agreements.”

The negotiation process with the FARC – the fourth one in history with the insurgents – was supported by former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter on January 12, who visited Bogotá to learn firsthand about the progress of peace talks.

“The (peace) process is not only important for Colombia, but also for the region and the whole world,” Carter said on January 12 after meeting with Santos.