Colombia government, FARC “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”

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Colombian government chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle today announced an historic agreement on agrarian reform had been reached with the marxist guerrilla group the FARC, six months on from the start of peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

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FARC, The Pantomime Villians Of Oslo?

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Colombia´s FARC guerrillas this morning opened talks with President Santos´s government to end their five decade war against the state.
Márquez complete with his Simón Bolívar t-shirt. Photo AP
Iván Márquez, head of the FARC delegation, delivered a highly political speech in which he appeared to rip up the agenda for discussion, arguing that peace would not be achieved only through the ´silencing of guns´ but by remodeling the Colombian economy to reflect the rebels´ Communist views.

This was a speech that could have been given in Caguán, and has left we who were hopeful for a successful conclusion to the discussions more than a little less optimistic than before.

Márquez has been deprived of the limelight of international media for years and took his chance today to deliver the rhetoric you sensed he had been preparing for days and nights under the tarpaulin of his jungle hideout.

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Santos talks drug decriminalisation and peace in US

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos touched down in the USA on Sunday ahead of an intense round of diplomatic meetings, the highlight of which will be a key-note address to the UN General Assembly.

In discussion with students of the University of Kansas the president today confirmed this speech will focus not only on the peace talks with the FARC – which he revealed will begin in a fortnight – but also drug decriminalisation.

Santos believes Colombia has the ´moral authority´ to talk to the world about a ´alternatives´ to the so-called war on drugs.

The president´s goal is to convince the UN to initiate a series of studies into possible strategies for establishing a new regime of control which he argues will ´strengthen the fight against narcotrafficking´.

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FARC guerrillas ´promise´ to disarm

Colombia´s FARC leader Timochenko today confirmed the guerrillas´ intention to disarm if next month´s peace talks with President Santos´ government are successful.
In an interview with the Communist weekly publication Voz, Timochenko admitted that without a ´true farewell to arms´ any agreement would be worthless.

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A new democratic dawn in Colombia?

Colombia may have one of Latin America´s oldest and longest running democracies but the criticism has always been that hers is a democracy only at the time of an election, that away from the physical act of voting, the society has very little involvement in the running of the country. 2012 is beginning to look like the year this began to change.

Citizen movements are growing more vocal and more active by the day, and what is more important, they are starting to achieve success, forcing the government to change policy and securing the resignation of key political figures.

The isolation of Álvaro Uribe?

¿Pero como así, mijo?

These are worrying times for Colombia´s ex-president Álvaro Uribe, as the political tide turns against him, the media deserts him, and the governing class close ranks behind President Santos.

Is Uribe in danger of losing his political voice?

Uribe is a politician used to the limelight, and unconditional support and loyalty. In 2010 he left power as Colombia`s most popular ever president. And despite the attacks on his government throughout the last two years, he has maintained a strong following not only among those who instinctively share his politics, but among the millions – particularly in rural areas – whose feel their lives improved significantly during the Uribe government as the FARC was pushed back.
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FARC`s PR war a threat to Colombian peace talks?

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos is fighting a public relations war with FARC guerrillas who in days will fly to Norway to start negotiations to end five decades of conflict.

Peace depends on the will of the FARC to negotiate, and the ability of the government to provide the terrorists an alternative to armed combat.

The government has done its part.

Since coming to power in 2010, the president has rushed through a new legal framework of transitional justice that will permit integration of demobilised guerrillas into civilian life; offering a route to legitimate political representation through the power of the ballot box.

But the key question is whether the FARC have done enough to show they too are serious about peace.

Those loyal to ex-president Alvaro Uribe suggest not; pointing to the rebels’ press conference held last week in the safe-house of the Cuban capital, Havana, as evidence the FARC are playing a huge confidence trick.
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