The delegations of the government and Colombia’s oldest living rebel group the FARC returned to Cuba late Wednesday to begin the 22 round of peace talks after weeks of problems ranging from wiretapping to the ousting of a former guerrilla turned-mayor.
The negotiators will sit down Thursday to continue discussing illicit drugs, the third of six agenda items to be discussed between the government and the rebels.
The two factions began discussing this point late 2013 after a historic deal was reached on the subject of political participation, but perpetual troubling news coming out of Colombia has slowed down the progress of what was not predicted to be one of the more difficult agenda items to tackle.
Aside from a scandal involving the Colombian military wiretapping both the FARC and the government’s delegations, this week’s discovery of the tortured bodies of two policemen allegedly killed by the FARC and Wednesday night’s dismissal of Bogota’s mayor, former M-19 guerrilla member Gustavo Petro, have both heightened tensions at the tables in Havana, Cuba.
The former of these problems has given opposing political leaders a soap box for decrying the peace talks once again. Presidential candidate for former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center (Centro Democratico-CD) party Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, called for the peace talks’ “immediate” suspension Wednesday after the news of the two policemen’s deaths broke on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the FARC hope to discuss the latter case of the now former mayor Petro during peace talks. The guerrillas also spoke out vehemently on President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision to allow the removal of the democratically elected official.
“[This is] another grave blow against the peace process in Havana,” said the FARC referring to Petro’s dismissal according to EFE news agency.
This represents the fourth historic attempt at peace talks between the government and the FARC. The dialogues began in November, 2012.