The end of Colombia’s half-a-century conflict is near, said the chief negotiator of the country’s largest rebel group FARC Monday.
Senior FARC rebel and the rebel group’s chief negotiator at peace talks with the government, “Ivan Marquez,” told RCN Radio that “we understand, and the country understands this very well, that wars aren’t forever. We are in ways convinced that Colombia is close to the end of the conflict.”
According to the guerrilla leader, his faith in a relatively quick end to the conflict is because “no artificial barriers are put in place. This is going to move swiftly.”
In spite of Marquez’ optimism, the FARC and the government continue to appear far apart when it comes to some of the rebel group’s demands, like a constituent assembly or the surrender of weapons.
Nevertheless, Marquez said there are possible scenarios where the warring parties can find agreement.
“For now, we are looking at certain experiences. For example what happened in Ireland. We have met with the Irish, with the IRA, and they found a formula there that must be analyzed well,” said Marquez, referring to the end of the conflict in Northern Ireland that was signed without an initial disarmament.
In regards to a constituent assembly with the power to change Colombia’s 1991 constitution — fiercely opposed by the government — Marquez said that also on this issue he expected a settlement.
Negotiators of the FARC and government began a second cycle of talks regarding the rebels’ political participation last month after successfully ending negotiations over agrarian reforms. The negotiating teams announced to be discussing the issue separately before joining each other at the peace negotiation table in Havana this week.
If successful, the peace talks will end the FARC’s nearly half-a-century long war with the Colombian state.