Several Colombian media asserted Thursday that the unexpected and voluntary resignation of the government’s entire cabinet has everything to do with President Juan Manuel Santos‘ plans to broker a peace deal with the FARC.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, “the head of state may use this circumstance to make important announcements and generate new tools that allow him to freely search a negotiated end of the conflict.”
Several media reported that one of Santos’ new ministers would be veteran Liberal Party politician Horacio Serpa, “whose experience with dialogue processes with the guerrillas wouldn’t go to waste,” Caracol Radio asserted.
According to the radio station, the “key to peace” that Santos has said to have “is about to come out of his pocket.”
Newspaper El Espectador claimed the mass resignation is “to start accommodating the players, thinking about the possibility of peace talks with the FARC, and at the same time seek the 2014 reelection.”
The resignation of Colombia’s cabinet came amid assertions by former President Alvaro Uribe and radio station W that government and guerrilla representatives have secretly been meeting in Cuba to work on a negotiated peace agreement between state and insurgency.
Following Uribe’s comments, Colombia’s political leaders aligned with Santos, saying they support the president and possible peace talks.
Santos has so far publicly rejected talks with the 48-year-old insurgency. In June, the president said it was too soon for peace talks.
“Only when we are absolutely convinced that the circumstances are right that this dialogue will be under our control, then we will think of opening a dialogue,” said the president.
Santos’ predecessor has always openly rejected peace talks with the FARC until the guerrilla group ceases violence. However, in a 2010 diplomatic cable, the U.S. embassy in Bogota reported that the Uribe administration was “preparing ‘roadmaps’ for the next administration on how best to pursue peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
According to the embassy, then-Peace Commissioner Frank Pearl “acknowledged that the GOC had communicated with both groups in order to develop the road maps and build confidence.”
Since then, the Santos administration approved a bill that would allow displaced farmers to return to land stolen primarily by paramilitary groups, one of the demands of the FARC, and the FARC vowed to end kidnapping, one of the demands of the government.
The last open peace talks between the Colombian government and rebels were held between 1999 and 2002.