Both the government and Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Friday said they have found common ground in the question of land reform, despite a negotiation round filled with controversies and heated statements.
The government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle, said that the talks had arrived “at a key moment.”
“We are at a key moment in the dialogues, where we requiere results…and agreements in the agrarian theme so [we can] continue with other points on the agenda,” De la Calle said. The former vice president also stated that the government was aiming for a “better use of the land.”
For its part, the FARC said that negotiations were “advancing like never before.”
The latest round of talks was highlighted by the FARC’s top leader “Timochenko” accusing the government of “obstructing” the peace process, following statements from President Santos about the alleged land theft on behalf of the insurgents.
Santos said that the 247,000 acres of land given to 342 families in the southern Caqueta department had been seized by the FARC. He also claimed that this was only a fraction of the land stolen by deceased rebel leader “Mono Jojoy.”
Santos’ comments prompted an impassioned response from Timochenko where he said that the government was not “serious” about reaching peace.
“This [notion] that we in the FARC have robbed I don’t know how many hectares from I don’t know how many peasants, as well as all all this nagging about us being obliged to face the victims of the conflict, as if we had ever [mentioned] our negativity towards doing so,” said the rebel leader.
Santos on Sunday rejected Timochenko’s comments saying that “if the peace talks stopped producing results, they would be ended.” The president did say, however, that there had been “positive achievements” during this round of negotations, a sentiment shared by chief FARC negotiator “Ivan Marquez,” who said they had “advanced” but did echo Timochenko’s sentiment that the guerrillas had not stolen land.
“They disfigure reality…in a badly intentioned and perverse form, they try to divert [attention] from the causes and from who is truly responsible for the robbery of close to 8 million hectares (19.7 million acres),” said the rebel negotiatior.
The warring parts will reunite on March 11 to further discuss the themes of “rural development” and “the use of land.”