Negotiators for the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, FARC, reported good relations as peace talks continue.
According to The Associated Press, peace negotiators in Havana, Cuba have spoken of the cordial atmosphere between them, saying that informal interactions outside the meeting room are useful for building trust. Negotiators reportedly share cigarettes and talk about their favorite Colombian soccer teams in their regular breaks from formal talks.
Rodrigo Granda, the FARC’s Foreign Minister, however, reiterated that the two sides “never forget that we come from opposing sides of a conflict which has not yet ended.”
Yet according to the rebel leader, “There’s still room for a joke, or a smile. We have been building trust and that is extremely important.”
The negotiating teams are living in luxury houses on opposite sides of a one-time country club that the Cuban government now uses as an official compound. The atmosphere in Cuba contrasts to the scene on the ground in Colombia, where the FARC’s unilateral cease-fire has not brought a halt to battles between the two warring parties.
Nevertheless, old enemies are talking to each other. Several negotiators described an encounter between FARC’s lead negotiator Ivan Marquez and former Colombian Armed Forces Chief General Jorge Enrique Mora.
“We already know each other, you and I,” Mora reportedly said to Marquez, before going on to name several battles the two had participated in over the decades.
The FARC commander agreed and listed even more battles. “You didn’t know I was there, but I knew you were,” joked Marquez.
The Colombia government and the country’s largest rebel group are in the midst of peace negotiations to bring an end to South America’s longest-standing armed conflict.