The armed conflict between Colombia’s rebel groups and the state began in the countryside and continues to be fueled by the situation in rural areas, the chief government negotiator said Wednesday.
At the end of a 13th round of peace talks between the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, government negotiator Humberto de la Calle told reporters that an eventual accord between rebels and state will “close the gap between city and countryside.”
The FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos have already closed a deal on rural reforms, and are currently negotiating the guerrillas’ future political participation.
However, while the FARC and the government moved away from debating the situation on the countryside, farmers and miners last week began a massive strike that was joined by a number of rural economic sectors. The unrest has led to at least four fatalities and hundreds of injured protesters and policemen who have been trying to break up roadblocks.
According to De la Calle, “the conflict began in the countryside and in the countryside is where it is fueled.”
“Like Aristides Calvani, Venezuela’s foreign minister, said, ‘in the countryside we want that every rifle to be replaced by a tractor’.”
De la Calle said that “Colombians are tired of violence and demand a peace that implies concrete actions.”
Following the 13th round of talks, the two negotiating teams will retreat for little more than a week before continuing to discuss the FARC’s political future.