Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday that he will persevere in the pursuit of peace, “without yielding an inch.”
Peace talks between the government and rebel group FARC began in November 2012 on the basis of a five-point peace agenda. An agreement was reached in May regarding the first item on the agenda – rural agrarian development – while discussions revolving around the second item on the agenda – political participation – continue.
“I will persevere without giving an inch on the bottom line. We have not yielded to the guerrillas demand for a ceasefire, as military operations continue throughout the country,” explained the head of state. “Not one inch of territory has been given, so if these peace talks fail, we have not lost anything and they will gain nothing from a military standpoint.”
Furthermore, Santos reiterated his desire for the Colombian people to vote on any potential peace agreement in a referendum next year.
“If you do not like the agreement then you say no, and we live as we have been living for the past 50 years,” said the head of state. “But if the Colombian people like the proposal, then they will vote yes and we will live in peace.”
Santos continued, expressing his desire for guerrilla soldiers to be incorporated back into society.
“This is a transition from a group that is outside of the law, a group that has been at war against the state, to be incorporated into our society,” stressed the head of state. “That is the point. Without yielding our development model, without yielding our political system and without yielding our fundamental policies. That is what I believe is best for Colombia.”