The Colombian government and rebel group FARC released partial deals made as part of ongoing peace talks to tackle “rumors” by opponents of the negotiation “that seek to create distrust,” the government delegation leader said Wednesday.
According to former Vice-President Humberto de la Calle, “opponents of the process have taken advantage of the general lack of knowledge of the reports and statements to circulate all kinds of rumors that seek to disinform, that seek to create distrust while this is no way corresponds with what has been agreed upon” between the two delegations.
The country’s most vociferous opponent to the talks, former President and now-Senator Alvaro Uribe, and his political allies and members of his conservative support base have long criticized the secrecy surrounding the talks and agreements, in some cases suggesting the government is “handing over the country to Castro-Chavism.”
De la Calle defends secrecy
De la Calle defended the government’s initial persistence in confidentiality because “it is necessary to be able to discuss freely and make progress in the construction of deals. This is how it’s done all over the world.”
The former VP said that the government and the rebels had intended to “contribute to the transparency process” through press releases, of which 44 have been released since talks kicked off in late 2012.
“And when we reached agreement on a point on the agenda we made this public through joint reports that accurately reflect what was agreed, as you can now find yourselves,” De la Calle said at a press conference just after the beginning of the 29th round of talks.
Press conference government delegation
In addition to the press releases, De la Calle has held press conferences at the beginning of each round while the FARC delegation holds press meetings almost every morning.
The foreign guarantors to the process additionally make formal press statements in the event of a partial accord.
Most these public statements are covered by most national media.
How the delegations rank on Alexa
Online access to talks
The peace talks table also has a website where people can read material coming from the delegations and send proposals directly to the negotiation commissions. However, this website fails to attract much public attention, according to internet statistics website Alexa.
The FARC delegation opened websites in both Spanish and English which do attract visitors and are updated daily with editorials and press statements in which the guerrillas stress their political nature and the content of their wishes. Curiously, the FARC’s website in English is ranked twice as high as the rebels’ website in Spanish.
The government delegation does not have its own website, but a page on the website of the High Commissioner of Peace which receives too little visits for Alexa to rank.
Support drops after failed expectations
The peace talks’ support among the population has not just come under pressure by the Uribe-led opposition on the right, but also because — two years into the talks — it has long ago failed to live up to expectations the talks could be successfully concluded within a year, as initially predicted by President Juan Manuel Santos.
Subsequently, support for the talks has slipped, particularly in the periods between partial agreements.
According to the latest poll, 53% of Colombians oppose the talks. Only 42% approve. This opposition to the talks is fed by a pessimism over the outcome of the talks; 49% of Colombians said to not believe the talks will result in a peace agreement.