Colombia’s chief government peace negotiator expressed optimism on Thursday regarding the ongoing peace process currently underway with Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC.
On a visit to Spain, government negotiation chief Humberto de la Calle stated “this is the first time I see a possible end to Colombia’s conflict after more than 50 years,” according to Spanish El Mundo newspaper.
In a conversation with former spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez, the two pointed out the rural reform agreement as monumental and what makes the process “irreversible.”
“The biggest problem in these 50 years has been the countryside and that point has been agreed upon, just like the substitution of illicit crops. When the guerrillas accept to change their boots for votes, there we have the biggest change,” said Gonzales.
The Colombian government asserts that they have been approaching the peace process with the FARC very pragmatically and realistically. De la Calle differentiated the current peace process, that is underway, from previous attempts due to the economic growth of Colombia and the support of regional powers like Venezuela.
However, critics say that reality isn’t reflected in the recently released drafts of the first three points of the accord which allegedly lack concrete measures and raise questions of the state’s capability to implement much of the outlined reforms.
Former president and current senator Alvaro Uribe has been the most outspoken critic of the peace process saying that Santos has handed the country over to terrorists. Uribe constantly attacks the government for negotiating with terrorists when an encounter results in the death of police or army soldiers.
De la Calle recognized the complicated nature of conducting peace negotiations without a ceasefire despite FARC requests for one. The government refused to agree to a ceasefire until a final accord is reached to prevent what happened in the 1999 negotiations of the Caguan. The FARC used the ceasefire during the 1999 peace negotiations as an opportunity to rearm, regroup, and launch a renewed campaign against the Colombian government.
“This is the moment. The obstacles are enormous, but we have never gotten so far,” declared De la Calle.
- ‘El fin del conflicto es irreversible’ (El Mundo)