Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, and government negotiators failed on Thursday to present a common agreement on land reform in ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba.
The two sides will reportedly reconvene on April 2 to finalize the land reform deal, which is the the first of six discussion points on the peacde talks agenda.
Despite the setback, both the FARC’s lead negotiator, “Ivan Marquez,” and the head of the government commission, Humberto de la Calle, called for the preparation of a common forum on the second point on the agenda; the FARC’s future political participation.
“There are still various disagreements. We will reunite [on] the second of April with the hope of finalizing the brief lapse in the discussion of this and move on to the next,” said de la Calle, whose comments were echoed by Marquez, who said the main points of difference with the government concerned issues like mining and energy policy, limits to large scale husbandry and the state of foreign companies operating on Colombian soil.
“There are strong bases established. Some points need [more time] but it is a strong structure … There can be no turning back. We continue to forge ahead always, advancing slowly if one wants to think so, but also persistently,” said Marquez, who presented no less than nine new proposals on land reform on Thursday night for the government to evaluate. Among the recently added proposals from the FARC were denouncements of free trade agreements and a prohibition of foreign companies on Colombian soil. However, Marquez said the disagreements could be solved in “coming exchanges.”
The Colombian government has said that points not on the original agenda, like the rebels’ proposal of the demilitarization of the countryside, “will not be discussed at the negotiation table.”
The rebels have proposed giving 20 million hectares of Colombia’s land to low-income farmers and the displaced and have also demanded a limit on the property of big landowners. De la Calle said no land would be taken from existing landowners to be given to the poor, but agreed with the FARC about rural poverty being one of the root causes of the Colombian armed conflict.
“Among other actions, profound transformations have to be pushed forward in the countryside, which is where the conflict has principally taken place,” said de la Calle.
Negotiations between the FARC and the government will be retaken on April 2. Apart from the issue of land, the warring parties are yet to discuss themes like political participation, compensation for conflict victims, drug trafficking and ending hostilities. As of yet, the talks have produced no notable advances, leading to complaints within Colombia that they are advancing too slowly.
- · “Desacuerdos pendientes” (El Espectador)
- · Gobierno y Farc pideron organizar foro sobre participación política (El Colombiano)
- · UPDATE 1-Colombia, FARC say peace talks make progress, but still disagreements (Reuters)
- · Colombian government, FARC rebels conclude another peace talks round; no deal on land issues (Washington Post)
- · Gobierno y Farc anuncian solicitud de foro sobre participación política (Caracol Radio)