FARC and government negotiators in Havana, Cuba are developing trust. The two parties discuss the latest soccer results, tease the unofficial timekeeper of the talks when it’s time for a break, share cigarettes and aromatic Cuban cigars, and huddle around a computer screen to look over design ideas for the website they’ve developed together for those seeking information about the negotiations. They also often call each other on the telephone at night to arrange details of the next day’s agenda.
The camaraderie gives hope.
One morning, Colombian army Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora addressed the FARC’s Ivan Marquez: “You know, we already know each other, you and I.” He rattled off the names of battles they had fought in over the decades.
Marquez agreed, and added the dates of several other fierce clashes. He said: “You didn’t know I was there, but I knew you were.”
Mora and Marquez are mortal enemies and have been killing each other’s family, friends, and colleagues for decades. Their exchange that morning broke the tension in the room, according to observers.
But this is the fourth attempt since the 1980s to bring peace to Colombia — so there’s the obvious skepticism. Columnist Carlos Alberto Montaner pondered if the FARC’s motivation for participating in these peace talks is to acquire a legitimate spot on the Colombian government from which they can handle the drug business with much more power. Montaner asked: Does this mean the FARC have translated drug operations to neighboring Venezuela?
For thirteen years, Yezid Arteta Dávila was in the FARC. He was captured in 1996, and served a 10-year prison sentence. He is now a researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. He, too, has little faith in the peace talks. He said, “…The Colombian nation needs a collective catharses to overcome the fears and eradicate the hatred. The new generations must receive a decent country, just and democratic, and that is only possible with a social pact without exclusions.”