The Colombian government has finally made progress with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC for short, in negotiations held in Havana, Cuba this week. According to sources, a tentative deal has been put in place which will secure a political role for the guerrilla rebel group, so as long as they put down their weapons, and conduct themselves peacefully within the confines of Colombia’s political system.
The ongoing urban to jungle conflict has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people over half a century since the Marxist-based peasant movement began.
The initial goal of the FARC was to put in a set of land reforms that would put the ownership of land into the hands of farmers and peasants. A move which in a primarily capitalist system, undermines the interests of businesses and private land owners.
Since its inception and eventual exile from Colombia’s political system, the FARC took up arms, taking to the jungle for shelter. The FARC’s often violent tactics of abducting high profile targets or wealthy individuals for ransom has helped fund the group, which can often land the group millions of dollars.
Despite the violent and turbulent past, the Colombian government says there is a serious and tangible deal on the table, saying that the FARC have stepped up to the table and are willing to put their bloody past behind them.
Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said the talks could provide a “new democratic opening” for the rebel group, and solidify a peace agreement, finally putting an end to the atrocious conflict.
“Never again politics and weapons together,” Humberto de la Calle said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile FARC leader Ivan Marquez has expressed satisfaction with the terms and agreements on the FARC’S future political participation.
“We are doing well; in no other peace process have we advanced as much as we have here in Havana. We have taken an important step in the right direction to end the conflict and to achieve a real democracy in Colombia.” said Ivan Marquez.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has received a lashing from critics, who say dealing with the rebel group is not the way out of this conflict. They cite past failed negotiations with the FARC as a foreshadowing of the Havana talks.
A serious incident in 1999 has tarnished the FARC’s reputation for sincerity after then President Andres Pastrana granted the FARC a sizeable amount of land to jump start peace talks, only to watch the FARC use that time to revamp their forces and train new militants in their fight against the Colombian government.
While it is true that the FARC has pulled out of talks even when everything seemed to fall in place up until it didn’t, Colombian officials say these talks have a different tone to them, one which both parties can agree is a mutual desire for peace and political reconciliation.
As of now only a partial agreement has been met, but according to Colombian congressman Ivan Cepeda, the agreement so far “constitutes a strong basis to believe we could reach a definitive peace,”