The chief negotiator of Colombia’s main rebel group FARC has said that the peace talks between the rebels and the government have yielded only “modest achievements” so far.
Luciano Marín Arango, known as ‘Ivan Marquez’, made the claim while reading a statement on Thursday morning, before the beginning of the 15th round of peace talks, which began in November 2012 and are taking place in Havana, Cuba.
“Today, after 14 rounds of talks in which the FARC have put forward almost 200 proposals, we have arrived at only partial agreements; the achievements are modest,” said Marquez.
“No restrictions on the discussion of the agreement”
In the statement he referred to the “state of the peace talks”, saying that the FARC had as much right as the government to discuss the progress of the peace talks, as long as they did not reveal significant information that might compromise the negotiations.
“There are no restrictions on the discussion of the agreement,” Marquez said. “The President [Juan Manuel Santos] himself, in defense of the peace process, has referred to the issue in various settings.”
This comes a week after the FARC’s supreme commander, ‘Timochenko’, was accused of threatening to break the confidentiality agreement and reveal details of the peace talks, a move condemned by the UN and the leader of the government’s negotiation team, Humberto De la Calle, who described the threat as “frankly incomprehensible”.
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Timochenko clarified last week that he did not intend to break any confidentiality agreement – contained within section 4 of the operating rules agreed on by both sides before beginning talks – and the new statement read by Marquez did not contain any information that was not already available to the public.
It summarized the achievements made so far, principally the agreement on land reform, which included awarding titles to the “48 percent” of farmers who currently own their land informally. But warned that other issues relating to land reform had not yet been resolved, like placing limits on foreign ownership of land.
An estimated 40% of Colombia is allotted in large-scale foreign titles to mining and agricultural multinationals.
“The delays… are not the responsibility of the FARC”
In the statement, the FARC also rejected any reponsibility for the slow progress of the peace talks: “the delays… are not the responsibility of the FARC and in that sense cannot be taken as a reason to chastize us.”
In early September President Santos expressed his concern over the slow pace of the talks, saying that “there comes a time when you have to take the bull by the horns and make decisions, we are approaching that time.”
The president of Congress, Juan Fernando Cristo, almost expressed his concern: “The process is being drawn out to a dangerous extent, which doesn’t help its image in Colombia.” Cristo is preparing a congressional delegation to travel to Havana and speak with both parties, although the exact date of the trip has not yet been confirmed.
Legal framework for peace
The FARC reiterated their opposition to the ‘legal framework for peace,’ a bill determining the boundaries of peace agreements with illegal armed groups. The FARC argue that such a framework must be the “product of an agreement, not of an imposition,” adding that the state cannot act as “judge and party at the same time.”
The legal framework for peace, which was approved in congress last year and upheld by the Constitutional Court in August, modified the constitution and laid the foundation for the punishment of war crimes, reparation of victims and peace with the guerrillas.
Marquez was one of the FARC leaders recently sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison for his part in a 2004 bomb blast that killed four and left 30 injured. Timochenko was also sentenced. A week before the pair were found guilty of a 2005 hotel bombing that killed six and injured 20, for which they received 31 years in prison. Both crimes occurred in Meta department, south of Bogota.
- PRIMER INFORME SOBRE EL ESTADO DE LAS CONVERSACIONES DE PAZ (FARC-EP – Spanish)
- FIRST REPORT ON THE STATUS OF THE PEACE TALKS (FARC – EP – English)
- Iván Márquez: “los avances son modestos” (Semana)