Over 200 politicians from the United States and Europe have released a letter expressing their support for ongoing peace negotiations in Cuba between Colombia’s government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC.
A total of 245 politicians from four different countries signed the letter released on Tuesday, offering strong support for the current peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group.
The statement — which was endorsed by representatives from the US Congress, UK Parliament, the Irish Parliament, and the Legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland — also encouraged Colombia’s government and FARC negotiators to remain in Havana, Cuba, until a peace agreement has been reached.
“We, the undersigned elected representatives of this letter, are writing to express our support for the Colombian peace process that is currently underway in Havana, Cuba,” the letter read.
“We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both the Colombian government and the FARC, for coming into this negotiation process and start a process that we hope to reach a conclusion of peace with social justice and putting an end to nearly 50 years of conflict armed in Colombia, “ read the statement continued, adding, “We firmly believe that the only option for achieving a lasting peace in Colombia is through dialogue and mutual concessions.”
The letter, which included signatories from 16 different political parties, was coordinated by the British non-government organization Justice for Colombia (JFC) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
New round of negotiations
The letter was released just a day after the negotiators entered the 25th round of talks, since the start of the formal peace process in November 2012.
According to the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, the aim for the latest round of talks is to reach a definitive agreement on the topic of drug cultivation and trafficking, the third of six agenda items for the talks.
During the last several rounds of negotiations, proposals have been considered that would mitigate efforts to combat drug cultivation, and instead provide farmers with a viable alternative to their illicit crops. The FARC, in particular, has advocated for the decriminalization of drug production, whereas the government has emphasized the need for the rebels to cease any trafficking activity.
The FARC’s chief negotiator, alias “Ivan Marquez,” said that the last round of talks saw significant progress. The parties, Marquez said, have almost reached an agreement.
Should formal terms be reached, the next round of talks will move on to the subject of victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict, expected to be one of the more complicated and emotionally charged points on the agenda.
The FARC has been fighting the Colombian state since its formation in 1964 in what has become the oldest internal armed conflict in the world. An estimated six-million Colombians are direct victims of the fighting between rebels, the country’s military and state-aligned paramilitary groups.
Three previous attempts at peace talks between the government and rebels failed, but the Cuba talks have gone uninterrupted since their inception, despite continued hostilities between rebel and public security forces in Colombia.