Government Negotiator with FARC is Optimistic

By Dialogo
September 11, 2012

Humberto De la Calle, the Colombian government’s team leader at the negotiating table to begin peace talks with the FARC guerrillas, expressed moderate optimism over the outcome of the process, which he described as different from the previous ones and with the potential of encouraging some hope.

“There are elements that induce moderate optimism (…) we know the difficulty of the negotiations of this nature (…) we wouldn’t want an excessive delirious optimism to generate an unreal situation,” De la Calle said to the daily El Tiempo, in Bogotá, on September 9.

For the leader of Juan Manuel Santos’s government negotiating team, “there are new conditions, the process is new, and it is different from before. In that sense, hope can be encouraged that this negotiation will work, but it appears to me that excessive promises should not be made.”

“We will make the best effort, but at this time the outcome is still unpredictable,” he added.

De la Calle estimated that the peace process would be different from previous experiences, in the sense that “the negotiations are outside the country; there is no demilitarized territory and there is no cessation of military operations”.

He added, “The international environment is also different. There is a desire in all of Latin America to achieve peace in Colombia. And the Military correlation is also different. It is indisputable that today’s Military Forces have collected successes that generate an impact on the relationship with the guerrillas.”

De la Calle served as vice president under Ernesto Samper, between 1994 and 1996, and was appointed on September 5, by Santos as chief negotiator, who will initiate a dialogue of peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), on October 8.

The group of government spokespeople is also made up of the Sergio Jaramillo, national security adviser; former peace commissioner Frank Pearl; Luis Carlos Villegas, president of the National Association of Private Industrialists (ANDI); and retired Army Generals Jorge Mora and Oscar Naranjo, of the Police.

The negotiating table will begin in Oslo on October 8, and later continue in Havana. Two of the FARC negotiators include Iván Márquez, member of the secretariat (leadership), and Jesús Santrich, a member of the general staff of the rebel group.