Reports emerged on Tuesday that Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has consulted with his political party, the “Party of the U,” about whether to delay the peace talks with the country’s main rebel group FARC until after the election, or even abandon the process entirely.
During the consultation, the president expressed his concern at the limited progress that has been made so far in Havana, Cuba, since the peace talks began in November 2012.
With only one of the five points of discussion – land reform – having been agreed upon, it looks increasingly unlikely that the original deadline of November 18, less than two months from now, will be met. It was hoped that by this deadline an agreement would have been settled upon and be ready to submit to Congress in time for the 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections, set to take place in March and May respectively.
The president said: “People go asking, ‘well why not move? why not come to an agreement? if there is a will, advance, the United Nations said it is time for decisions, be brave, make decisions, I’m sure it’s worth it if the prize is peace… let’s accelerate this process.”
The November 18 deadline marks one year since the negotiations began in Havana. The Colombian press is already raising the possibility that the talks could fall through completely. El Espectador reported: “The query raised by the U Party suggests that the government is already thinking about a scenario in which the talks are abandoned.”
Although the President is still speaking in public in mostly encouraging terms about the process, he has also expressed his worry that the public are becoming increasing skeptical. He recently said: “We need to reach agreements, we cannot continue indefinitely postponing decisions, because otherwise the Colombian people will gradually increase their skepticism, and that’s bad for the peace process.”
The FARC have also noted the slow progress, admitting that only “modest achievements” have been made so far.