Following almost perfectly consistent pessimism, the majority of Colombians are now optimistic about the outcome of ongoing peace talks with FARC rebels, according to a poll.
The talks — held in Cuba between the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC leadership since November 2012 — have long suffered predominant pessimism among the Colombian population.
The confidence in the third attempt to peacefully end the country’s 51-year-long conflict has long suffered fierce opposition of the country’s anti-FARC ex-president Alvaro Uribe and memories of how previous attempts failed, only resulting in an emboldened guerrilla group.
Even pollster Datexco seemed to share this sentiment; it didn’t begin polling optimism until 2014 when talks were already underway for more than a year.
However, following successful attempts to reduce violence and the signing of a transitional justice deal over the summer, the general sentiment has changed and a small majority of Colombians now believe that the talks will result in the end of the FARC’s violent opposition to the state, according to Datexco.
In spite a common belief among politicians and analysts that the peace talks are at a “point of no return” and a deadline has been set to finalize the negotiations and sign peace before April next year, 41% of polled Colombians believes the talks will fail.
The was 75% in July however when violence between the warring parties was escalating.
Those who do believe in a positive end of the talks have grown massively since then, going from 19% to 51%.
The only other time the talks could count on optimism was in June 2014 when the current president was spending millions of dollars in campaigning his pro-peace reelection campaign.
Popular sentiment regarding peace talks with FARC
However, following a deal on justice that according to the government and FARC would prevent impunity for war crimes, public confidence in the peace talks boosted.
The Colombian State and the FARC have been locked in an internal armed conflict since 1964, leaving 260,000 Colombians dead and over six million displaced. The warring parties have been negotiating a peace deal in Havana, Cuba since November 2012.
Before the March 23 deadline set by Santos and FARC leader “Timochenko,” the warring parties will still have to find agreement on two of the agenda’s points, Victims and End of Conflict.
Previous accords dealt with the FARC’s political participation, the rebels’ abandonment of drug trafficking and a far-stretching rural reform that seeks to diminish inequality and poverty in the countryside.