Santos Forms Team to Negotiate Peace with the FARC

By Dialogo
September 07, 2012

A team that combines representatives from the political elite, businesses, the military sector and police will be responsible for representing the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, during the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.

The group that will start the roundtable during the first two weeks of October in Oslo is headed by Humberto de la Calle, former Vice President (1994 and 1996), who was also a Supreme Court magistrate and one of the drafters of the 1991 Constitution, President Santos announced on September 5.

Also designated as team leaders of the industrial association were: Luis Carlos Villegas, former commander of the Armed Forces; retired General Jorge Mora Rangel; former director of the National Police, retired General Óscar Naranjo; and former Minister of Environment and former Peace Commissioner, Frank Pearl.

Presidential adviser Sergio Jaramillo, designated as the new Peace Commissioner, and who has a strong academic background in conflict resolution issues and served as Deputy Defense Minister when Santos was Defense Minister from 2006 to 2009, completes the team. The FARC have yet to announce its representatives at the negotiating table.

De la Calle, aged 66, was Minister of the Interior during the liberal government of César Gaviria (1990-94). Later, he resigned to the vice presidency under then-President Ernesto Samper (1994-98) due to the alleged scandal that the election campaign had been financed by drug trafficking.

For his part, Mora Rangel is considered a military hardliner. “He’s the most beloved retired military memberamong the military establishment. I believe that’s why Santos brings him to the table,” indicated Valencia, who foresaw that he would be “a tough contender” in the negotiations.

Mora Rangel, who served as commander of the Army during the Pastrana government and of the Military Forces in the first year of Álvaro Uribe’s government (2002-2010), is regarded as the architect of the Patriot Plan, the strongest offensive launched against the FARC.

Villegas chairs the National Guild Council, which brings together all the production sectors, and previously participated in dialogues with Pastrana.

According to Valencia, his experience and the fact that he is regarded to as “the most important business leader the country has had in the last 20 years,” made Santos place him in the group.

Naranjo, who left the National Police command this year, is recognized for his firm fight against drugs, and for having refined and professionalized the Police.

Former Minister Pearl, an economist by training, served as Peace Commissioner of Uribe’s government, a post from which he already had open channels of communication with the guerrillas that were activated during the initial exploratory contacts.

Clara Rojas, Director of the NGO Free Country Foundation, which assists family members of abductees, questioned “the lack of women and representatives of victims” on the team.

“In Colombia there are more than four million direct victims of displacement, forced disappearance, genocide, kidnapping” and other human rights violations, highlighted Rojas; she was kidnapped in 2002 together with former Presidential Candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, and released in 2008.