Ex-president Andres Pastrana, who led the failed 1998-2002 negotiations with Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC, said Sunday the guerrillas are “setting the agenda” in ongoing peace talks with the government.
“These days, yes, the FARC are setting the agenda. They always leave us, while entering or leaving, a document,” said Pastrana in an interview with Cali newspaper El Pais.
The conservative ex-president, who has remained an important figure in the public debate since leaving office in 2002, said current president Juan Manuel Santos was leading a divided country into peace negotiations.
“The big difference between Pastrana, [ex-president Alvaro] Uribe and Santos is that 100% of the country followed me into the peace process during four years. We fell part, we did not succeed in doing it. 100% followed Uribe to war. It fell apart because there was no military triumph, but we supported it. [Santos] today has a divided country, according to the polls, some 40% are supporting the peace process.”
On Monday, negotiations between the FARC and the government will be retaken in the Cuban capital of Havana. On Sunday, the Santos administration said agreements reached on agrarian issues could be consolidated during this round of peace talks.
“Hopefully we will succeed. United we can keep going forward searching for a country at peace, secure, with social justice,” said Santos.
While supported by the majority of Colombians and hailed abroad, the first peace talks with the 48-year old rebel group has generated fierce criticism domestically. Critics have claimed the authorities do not been able to sufficiently weaken the rebel group to maintain control over an eventual peace accord.
The FARC, originally founded as a Marxist insurgency, have been fighting the Colombian state since 1964 and have long been linked to kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorist attacks on civilian targets.