Speaking to Colombian daily El Tiempo, Pastrana implored current President Juan Manuel Santos to learn the lessons from failed 1999-2002 peace talks, which the former leader oversaw.
Shortcomings highlighted by Pastrana included the failure to secure a cease-fire prior to negotiations, the attempt to immediately tackle some of the most problematic issues, such as economic matters, and the location and high-profile nature of the negotiations.
The former leader outlined the benefits of taking the talks overseas. “First, discretion, second, the participation of the international community, third, having a neutral location, where the Farc will feel secure and comfortable,” he said.
Pastrana added, “If I were in the place of President Santos, the first talks would be completely secret and only when they reached a stage of real actions of peace would I bring them to the attention of the public.”
Pastrana’s own attempts to broker peace resulted in a controversial de-militarized zone as large as Switzerland, in the central department of El Caguan. Dubbed “Farclandia,” the area attracted a storm of media interest between 1999 and 2002, as goverment officials engaged in face-to-face negotiations with rebel representatives.
Peace has recently been high on the agenda amid a spate of suspected Farc attacks in the north-eastern departments of Norte de Santander and Nariño, leaving at least five people dead since Friday.
It had been suggested over the past week that Timochenko, the supreme commander of the Farc, is willing to engage in peace negotiations, while Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, offered Friday to mediate any potential talks.
So far Santos has taken a tough stance, stating Tuesday via Twitter that the Farc “can forget another Caguan” and must engage in “real actions of peace”, referring to the government’s position that the rebels must release all hostages before any negotiations are initiated.
The Farc currently hold 11 members of the Colombian security forces hostage, as well as an unknown number of civilians. The rebels released a statement in December 2011 promising to release six of the security force members in the coming weeks.