FARC Leader Says Colombian Insurgency Near End

By Dialogo
July 17, 2013

The top negotiator for Colombia’s leftist FARC rebel group said on July 15 he was confident that the nearly 50-year-old guerrilla war is almost over.

“We understand, and the country understands it as well, that wars are not eternal, and we feel certain somehow that Colombia is near the end of the conflict,” Ivan Marquez said in a radio interview.

Marquez is the FARC’s number two and the rebel group’s lead negotiator during the peace talks that have been underway with the government in Havana since November.

“If artificial impediments are not put in the way, this will flow quickly,” he said in the interview with RCN Radio.

Asked whether a peace agreement could be signed by next November, as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has urged, Marquez said, “It’s possible, but I wouldn’t go so far as to assert it.”

Negotiators have reached an agreement on the top item of the agenda, which concerns rural development. Starting on July 15, they were to begin discussing the question of the rebels’ participation in politics.

Other agenda items include drug trafficking, the surrender of weapons and reparations for victims of the conflict.

Marquez said a constituent assembly should be convened to make the institutional changes needed to provide a foundation for peace.

Such a constitutional assembly “would surround the (peace) agreement with legitimacy,” he said.

“No future president would be able to say, ‘I do not recognize these agreements.’ It is very important for that reason,” he said.

Santos’ term ends in August 2014, although he could run for re-election.

The FARC has not said how it intends to re-engage in politics once a peace agreement is reached, but Marquez indicated that the FARC would seek to form a coalition of leftist forces.