Here we go again. Peace talk season is upon us. This time around, the group reportedly seeking peace is the FARC. I sound skeptical because I am skeptical. Though I wish, sincerely, in my deepest-of-wishes-wish, that there could be peace.
Reprinted from the archives, here are some reflections from the last time peace talks were attempted, ten years ago in El Cagúan.
Academics from the Peace Institute of the Congress of the United States, Georgetown University, Los Andes University, and CINEP have come up with a report titled “Ten years after El Cagúan: some lessons to come closer to peace.”
Some of the suggestions are:
1. Do not negotiate in the middle of hostilities. There must be an absolute cease-fire.
Update: President Santos said this time there will not be a ceasefire.
President Santos, in fact, warned civilians to expect more attacks and to be resilient.
2. There must be an agenda that addresses not just the guerrilla and the armed groups, but all factors of violence, and most importantly, drug trafficking. It should also address property titles and the use of the land, rural development, the environment, and social and political inclusion.
Update: President Santos said a priority is the development of the countryside: to give farmers access to land and build infrastructure in removed areas. Drug trafficking is also on the table.
3. The agenda should also address truth and justice and reparation, and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.
Update: President Santos said there will be truth commissions; and the government will guarantee ways for former guerrillas to abandon arms forever.
Another priority this time is for opposition members to be given political space, in particular for movements born from these negotiations.
4. The agenda should be less broad than it was at El Caguán.
Update: The agenda currently consists of five key points.
5. Civil society should be a key player. The media has an immense responsibility to report with a balanced view.
Update: It seems the bulk of the negotiations will take place behind closed doors in Habana, Cuba.
6. Women must be more involved in the talks.
Update: Lucía Jaramillo and Elena Ambrosi are part of the government’s negotiating team.
7. The international community must be involved as well, although its participation must be limited to what the Colombian players want.
Update: Negotiations will formally begin in October in Oslo, Norway, and then proceed in Habana, Cuba. Norway, Chile and Venezuela will act as advisors.
The FARC admire Fidel Castro, and feel supported ideologically and politically by Hugo Chavez. On the other hand, President Santos is close to Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera.
Further, Cuba provides a neutral space.