Negotiators of Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel group FARC on Sunday signed an agreement on agrarian reform, the first and allegedly the hardest of three issues that must be tackled before signing a deal to end almost 50 years of guerrilla violence.
In a joint press conference, the two negotiating teams said they had reached full agreement on the following points that had already been formulated in the initial agreement to begin formal pace talks:
- Access and use of land. Wastelands. Formalization of property. Agricultural border and protection of reserve zones.
- Programs of development with a territorial focus.
- Infrastructure and land improvement.
- Social development: health, education, housing, eradication of poverty.
- Stimulus to agricultural production and the economy of solidarity and cooperation. Technical assistance. Subsidies.
Credit. Generation of income. Marketing. Labor formalization.
- Food security system.
According to a joint press release, the negotiators said the deal will lead to “radical transformations of Colombia’s rural and agrarian reality with equality and democracy.”
The deal includes a redistribution of land through a Lands for Peace Fund that is supposed to distribute land in such a way that it diminishes poverty and inequality on Colombia’s countryside.
Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said the signed pact “focused on the people, the agrarian economy, territorial development, credit, potable water and contains actions to preserve the environment, which is a commitment to the youth of Colombia… But more than anything, the cornerstone of the deal es the reaffirmation of the dignity of the farmer’s family.”
The negotiating teams stressed that signed agreements will not be ratified until the signing of the final peace deal. De la Calle, on behalf of the government, stressed that “all this will be carried out with full respect for private property and the rule of law. Legal owners [of farmland] have nothing to fear.”
The agreement was immediately praised by President Juan Manuel Santos who on Twitter called the deal a “fundamental step … towards a full deal to put an end to half a century of conflict.”
Celebramos, de veras, este paso fundamental en La Habana hacia un pleno acuerdo para poner fin a medio siglo de conflicto.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) May 26, 2013
The two negotiating teams will now proceed to point two of the agenda, political participation, which aims to secure the “rights and guarantees for the exercise of the political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that arise after the signing of the Final Agreement.”
If and once the negotiators agree on that point, the teams will discuss the practicalities of ending the conflict that began when the FARC took up weapons in 1964.
According to the rebels and government representatives, the teams have already discussed points further down the agenda since talks formally began on November 19 in Havana, Cuba.
- Joint press release (FARC/Government)
- Press release of the High Commissioner of Peace