Colombia’s chief negotiator for peace talks with the rebel group FARC, spoke in front of Congress affirming the importance of a popular vote in determining peace.
Humberto de la Calle, the Colombian government’s chief negotiator in Cuba where peace talks have been occurring since last November, insisted that congress pass a legal mechanism to allow a final agreement with the FARC to pass with popular approval.
De la Calle and the executive branch of the government want to have a referendum for any final deal with the FARC on the ballot with the upcoming presidential and congressional elections in March 2014.
“Often, participation mechanisms are dying due to a lack of election culture, and then the threshold becomes an insurmountable obstacle. Referendums promoted by the government in moments of high popularity of government leaders have failed due to the difficulty of achieving this threshold,” explained the chief negotiator to Congress.
De la Calle and the government believe that citizens will be more likely to vote and participate actively if the hypothetical peace agreement is put to a popular vote alongside the regular elections. He continued.
“[This referendum law must pass] in order to promote a principle of democratic expansion.”
Ultimately, de la Calle demanded that the government act responsibly and preventatively now because no one would want a peace deal with the FARC to die of “starvation” due to lack of participation.
The FARC has publicly opposed a referendum and demands a constituent assembly to embed an eventual peace accord in the country’s constitution.
The first committees of the Senate and the House are convening a public hearing and are waiting to hear all of the possible positions and proposals, and then begin to start processing initiatives.
Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo realized that “we are in Havana at a critical time in negotiations. I believe that in the coming months, we will see if this is going to go or not. We are now entering the key issues.”