Negotiators of Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel group FARC took a break from peace talks Friday to celebrate Christmas.
In a joint press statement, the two negotiating parties said the talks have advanced in “an atmosphere of respect and constructive spirit” and will be suspended until January 14 to allow the negotiators a holiday after months of negotiations.
FARC negotiator “Rodrigo Granda” told press that “we are at the moment of warming up. We can’t say we have made extraordinary advances but have had very important discussions. We’ll be working in a balanced, patient way without breaks.”
While both parties stressed the constructive and respectful nature of the talks, the government and FARC continued to disagree on to what extent Colombia’s socioeconomic model should be part of an eventual peace agreement.
According to the government’s chief negotiator, former Vice President Humberto de la Calle, “the government does not have to change its social model. That’s why we have said we are not negotiating Colombia’s model of development or its democratic system of government.”
“Ivan Marquez,” the rebels’ chief negotiator, then told press that “the FARC believes it is necessary to tackle national problems, that it urgently needs changes to unjust structures. … If you don’t want conflict, you have to remove those causes.”
Marquez’ again stressed the rebels’ demand to achieve peace “with social justice.”
Following nearly 50 years of violence, the government and the FARC have been involved in formal peace talks since November 19 after agreeing a five-point agenda that — after reaching an agreement — would mark the official end of Colombia’s armed conflict.