Santos Considers Possible Referendum to Reach Agreement with FARC

By Dialogo
January 18, 2013

On January 16, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos suggested that Colombian citizens might be able to reach an agreement with the FARC guerrillas through a referendum, but he ruled out a constituent assembly.

“It is very likely that we might find a way to reach an agreement through a popular referendum,” the president stated in a ceremony at the municipality of Ocaña, in Norte de Santander district, near the Venezuelan border.

This possibility “will be discussed. I am not going to give any details, because it is one of the topics under discussion” at the negotiating table, which has been going on since November in Havana, Cuba Santos said.

However, the head of state denied that the peace process would end through a constituent assembly, as the guerrilla organization suggested.

President Santos also asked the spokesman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to keep the content of the talks confidential until “significant progress, agreements exist” and can be reported to the public opinion.

“We cannot try to negotiate out loud, because that is one of the reasons why talks failed in the past,” confirmed Santos, referring to the three previous peace processes with the FARC, the oldest guerrilla organization in Latin America, in existence for almost 50 years.

On January 14, when talks resumed after an end-of-the-year recess, FARC delegates in Havana revealed their proposals to resolve the agrarian problem, which is the first subject in the five-point negotiation agenda.