Colombia’s president has sent his brother to Cuba to break an apparent deadlock in peace talks with leftist FARC rebels.
The government and the FARC have been talking since late 2012 and are currently in the final stretch of the talks that are now dealing with the formalization of a bilateral truce, and the demobilization and disarmament of the FARC.
Colombia’s FARC rebels said Monday peace talks with the government are have “slowed” somewhat amid discussions over this bilateral and definitive ceasefire
FARC negotiator Carlos Lozada said the talks were stumbling over the details of an eventual truce.
The government has been seeking to link this truce to the FARC surrendering their weapons, but the rebels have cited security fears and refuse to surrender their weapons to the state they have been fighting for more than half a decade.
The Marxist guerrillas have been observing a unilateral ceasefire since July. But while the government has stopped bombing FARC positions, it has yet to accede to the rebels’ demand for a bilateral ceasefire.
“The talks aren’t paralyzed, but the discussion we’re having on the definitive bilateral ceasefire has slowed,” said Lozada in the Cuban capital Havana, where the two sides have been in talks on ending the half-century conflict for more than three years.
He blamed the Colombian government for the impasse, saying it was trying to force the FARC into “unconditional surrender.”
“We’re looking for formulas to enable us to save what we’d achieved to continue moving forward,” he said.
Negotiators at the talks have announced several key advances in recent months, but a final deal remains elusive.
Santos’ brother is a respected journalist who initiated the peace talks with the FARC months before they were formalized. The president also sent his brother in September last year when negotiations on transitional justice were stuck.
The goal of the peace talks is to turn the 51-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from a rebel group into a political party and end a grinding, complex armed conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people and uprooted 7 million.