The 24th round of peace talks came to a close on Sunday with no formal agreement made on the issue of drug-trafficking but “significant progress,” the two negotiation teams said.
Luciano Marin, alias “Ivan Marquez” member of the FARC delegation at the peace talks, stated in a press conference that “we have made significant progress, we are building resolutions in a good environment…we will at some point give definitive news on this issue.”
Peace talks between the two sides have been underway since November 2012 with two points already agreed upon being agrarian reform and land-related issues and political participation. However in recent months the talks have focused on the problem of illicit crops and drug trafficking.
The resolution to drug-trafficking has proven problematic with the guerrilla group fighting back against ideas such as “extradition to ensure non-repetition of crimes by the FARC” which were put forward by Colombia’s ambassador in the US, Luis Carlos Villegas.
According to Marquez “these kind of unfortunate statements, far from contributing to the peace we all long for all, just scream out as unacceptable blackmail.”
Problems also rose with the question of aerial fumigation of illicit crops as the FARC maintain that such methods not only destroy other, non-illicit crops, but also that farmers who grow marijuana should not be penalized as their crops can be used for non-illegal ends.
The guerrilla group also called on the United Nations to lead a reform of global drug policy and act with urgency as ” the war on drugs has failed ” and “drug policies need to change now.”
Once an agreement is made with regards to drug-trafficking the talks will move onto the issue of victims of the armed conflict.
The delegation for the Colombian government, led by Humberto de la Calle, refrained from making a statement to the press.
Both sides will be back at the negotiating table for the 25th round of talks on May 12 which will conclude on May 22 in time for the Presidential elections.