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Colombia, FARC rebels agree on de-escalation plan

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Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Press TV – July 13, 2015

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels have come to a landmark agreement to de-escalate fighting in the country, sources say.

The Colombian government pledged in the Sunday deal to halt its military action against the rebels, who last week announced a one-month unilateral ceasefire starting from July 20, both parties said in a joint statement.

“The national government, from July 20, will launch a process of de-escalation of military action, in response to the suspension of offensive actions by the FARC,” said the statement issued in the Cuban capital, Havana, and read by Cuban and Norwegian diplomats, who have been mediating the talks.

The agreement will come into force if FARC fulfills its promised unilateral truce.

The FARC’s top negotiator in Havana expressed hope that the ceasefire would lead to the resumption of bilateral negotiations.

“This is undoubtedly a strong, promising, and hopeful re-launch of the dialogue process,” said Ivan Marquez.

His government counterpart, Humberto de la Calle, said the accord indicates that “the opportunity to end the conflict is alive.”

FARC will later decide if it will extend its ceasefire, while both sides will revisit the agreement in four months, mediators said.

Also on Sunday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed the deal, calling it an “important step” toward a total peace agreement.

It is the first time the Colombian government has agreed to curtail its military actions against the rebels since peace talks began in November 2012 in Havana.

The negotiations have produced partial agreements on several issues, but have not resulted in a final deal.

FARC is Latin America’s oldest rebel group and has been battling the government since 1964.

Bogota estimates that 220,000 people have been killed and more than 4.5 million others have been displaced due to the FARC insurgency.

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Background: Colombian President Santos Announces New Military Leadership

July 13, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Colombia to Stop Bombing FARC Camps for One Month

teleSUR | March 10, 2015

The Colombian military will stop bombing FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) camps for one month, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Tuesday.

The President emphasized that this is a temporary measure to try to de-escalate the more than 50 year conflict in the country, however he did not rule out the possibility of extending the one month deadline.

The FARC – the country’s largest guerrilla group – declared a unilateral ceasefire in December 2014, which it has so far honored, but the Colombian government has been slow to reciprocate.

Santos’ decision is an attempt to support ongoing peace talks, however he was specific in saying the bombing of camps would stop and did not mention ground troop deployment.

“To promote the de-escalation of the conflict, I decided to order the defense minister (Juan Carlos Pinzón) and the commanders of the forces to cease the bombing of the FARC camp for a month,” said the president.

“After that time we will further review the implementation of the unilateral termination by the FARC and, according to its results, decide whether to continue with the measure or not. In any case we will not waive the bombing if we see an imminent threat of a population,” he added.

The FARC and the Colombian government have been undergoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba since November of 2012 in an attempt to find a solution to the decades long conflict that has killed and displaced millions of Colombians.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

FARC says killed 8 Colombia soldiers in ‘defensive response’

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File photo shows militants belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Press TV – January 14, 2015

The FARC rebel group says it has killed eight army soldiers in a “defensive response” to the recent attacks carried out by the Colombian army.

“As a result of the defensive response, we lament that eight military personnel lost their lives, unnecessarily,” read the statement issued by the guerrilla group on Wednesday, adding, “These are all casualties that could have been avoided if the government had been less small-minded.”

According to the statement, the FARC forces killed the soldiers in retaliation for the Colombian army’s mortar attacks on rebels’ positions in the central province of Meta earlier this week.

The rebel group called on the government to put an end to its “senseless” offensives, “because they could provoke the end of the unilateral ceasefire and disturb the climate of confidence that should prevail at the negotiating table.”

Back on December 20, 2014, the FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire in an alleged attempt to boost the peace talks that have been held in Cuba since two years ago. However, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected the move, saying the guerrillas’ condition for an international verification of the ceasefire cannot be accepted.

Earlier in the month, the Colombian government and the FARC resumed the latest round of peace talks, suspended in November 2014, over the abduction of an army general.

The peace talks were launched in the Cuban capital of Havana in 2012, aimed at ending a half-a-century-old conflict between the rebels and the US-backed government.

Bogota estimates that 600,000 people have been killed and more than 4.5 million displaced due to the fighting.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Latin America’s oldest insurgent group and has been fighting the Colombian government since 1964.

January 15, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

UN Offers to Monitor Colombia Ceasefire

teleSUR | December 20, 2014

The United Nations has welcomed the FARC’s (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) declaration of an indefinite unilateral ceasefire in Colombia, and offered to help oversea it – if both parties involved agree.

“The United Nations has the competency,” Hochschild told reporters Thursday. He also stated that the U.N. has the willingness and the experience needed for the job.

The leftist rebel group called the indefinite earlier this week in Havana, Cuba marking the end of the last round of peace negotiations for the year.

The FARC and the Colombian government have been engaged in peace talks since November of 2012 to end the 50 years of civil war in the country. Although unilateral ceasefires have been called in the past, this is first time that no time limit has been set, leaving many optimistic that the two sides may be approaching an agreement.

One of the conditions for the ceasefire set by the FARC was that the situation be monitored by an outside body.

On Thursday, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) announced that they were open to overseeing the ceasefire. The leftist fighters also approached the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Broad Front for Peace to oversea the ceasefire.

President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, welcomed the ceasefire, however has refused to agree to it, stating fears that rebels would use the time to recalibrate and acquire arms.

The President has also refused to meet the FARC’s conditions for an outside monitoring body, saying the government itself could monitor the situation.

Earlier on Friday, the government accused the FARC of killing five soldiers during clashes in the southwestern state of Cauca. The attack reportedly happened only hours before the ceasefire was due to begin, however it is not clear who started the aggressions. The FARC has not accepted responsibility and has yet to comment on the matter.

According to the FARC, the ceasefire – which took effect at midnight on Saturday – must lead to a truce, and will only call it off if Colombian soldiers directly attack FARC troops.

Santos has said he is only willing to halt military actions if a peace agreement is signed.

December 20, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Calls for Peace Actions in Colombia after General Released

teleSUR | December 2, 2014

With Colombia’s peace talks likely to restart in the near future following the release of General Ruben Dario Alzate, calls are growing for a de-escalation of the conflict in order to avoid any future risks to the process.

Though non-government organizations, progressive politicians and peace activists continue to call for a bilateral cease-fire – as do the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – the government maintains that it will not consider such a measure until a final agreement is signed.

However, according to many observers, a full cease-fire is not the only recourse available. Acts of peace such as declaring a Christmas period truce would not only strengthen the process, but reinforce public support, which has been shaken by the recent suspension.

“They cannot continue talking peace in Havana and in the territories continue with this armed confrontation, of which the effects are well known: more victims, more displacement, more antipersonnel mines, more kidnappings, recruitment. What the people in the regions are asking for is ‘please, now, acts of peace,’” said Irma Perilla of the NGO Pensamiento y Accion Social (Social Thought and Action), which has helped stage a series of regional forums to teach communities in conflict zones about the process and give people a space to have their thoughts heard.

According to Carlos Salgado, director general of peace advocacy NGO Planeta Paz (Peace Planet), the two teams must guarantee that the recent rupture following the November 16 capture of Alzate is not repeated, otherwise it would likely prove fatal to the talks.

Government and FARC negotiators are set to meet in Havana on December 2 to discuss how to restart the talks. According to Salgado, conflict reduction measures should form part of any agreement to continue the peace process.

“The two sides are going to be obliged at the negotiating table in Havana to create an atmosphere of de-escalation of the conflict, to be very clear about what would produce a suspension in the future, and to create an atmosphere of trust for society,” said Salgado.

A wide variety of measures remain in order to reduce hostilities, such a regional cease-fires, and agreements on the cessation of certain activities – as United Nations representative in Colombia Fabrizio Hochschild has previously advocated.

Over the past two years, the FARC has implemented a unilateral cease-fire over the Christmas period, with relatively few violations.

This year, both Perilla and Salgado advocate a truce during December, which they say would prove to the public that the two sides are capable of establishing peace, as well as giving those hardest hit by the conflict the opportunity to enjoy the festive season in tranquility.

December 2, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Colombia: FARC Demands Democratisation of the Media

By Kahina Boudarène | The Argentina Independent | August 8, 2013

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) presented a series of proposals today to promote the democratisation of media and communication in the country.In a public statement, Marco Leon Calarca, also known as Luis Alberto Alban, one of the FARC spokespeople, asked the Colombian government to create a National Council for Information and Communication Politics “to ensure social and popular control over the media.”

The FARC also proposed a fair distribution of radio and television frequencies between public, private and social sectors. They suggested the promotion of new forms of propriety for communities and excluded social sectors, in order to ensure that rural, indigenous and excluded social sectors will access their own media.

The FARC states that these measures will encourage a “decentralisation” of the media and as so will “prevent economic groups from monopolising [the airwaves] and abusing their dominant position.”

They also asked “a decent work and a good salary” for people working in media, as well as “financial, technical and material resources for the proper exercise of the profession.”

The proposal comes as peace talks between the guerrilla group and the Colombian government continue in Havana, Cuba, with FARC’s possible integration into politics currently under debate.

As the FARC talked about the State wielding more “control” over the media, Ignacio Gomez, President of the Foundation for Press Freedom (Flip) declared that the concept was “a communist and fascist model”.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

An Interview With the FARC-EP Peace Delegation

The Colombian Negotiations

By HERNANDO CALVO OSPINA | August 7, 2013

FARC_guerrillas_during_the_Caguan_peace_talks_1998-2002Havana, Cuba.

Even in Havana they get up early. “We get up at 4:30 to wake up the roosters so that they can start singing,” grins Ricardo Tellez, better known as “Rodrigo Granda.”I have an appointment at 7am to interview three members of the Secretariat, the highest authority of the FARC. They are at the forefront of the dialogues between the insurgent organization with the delegation of the Colombian government in Havana. In a great hall of a house in “El Laguito” (1), where they live, “Ivan Marquez” and “Pablo Catatumbo” arrive, too. Granda lights a cigarette and drinks his second cup of coffee. Marquez has a big Cuban cigar in his hand, which he`ll start “after breakfast”. Catatumbo is sipping coffee and says to me: “If the three of us are going to say almost the same, why would you interview me?”

It is the first time a journalist has the opportunity to talk to these three guerrilla leaders together.

Hernando Calvo Ospina: Commanders, you have been talking for seven months, negotiating with the government’s commission in this peace process. Are you still optimistic?

Ivan Marquez: The optimism of the FARC is determined by our willpower to find a political solution to this confrontation, which has lasted for almost fifty years. Because they haven´t been able to defeat us militarily, nor have we, we must seek an alternative. In addition, the circumstances, today’s realities, both in Colombia and on the continent, indicate that it is time to find a pacific solution. Wars are not eternal. And that´s why we make any necessary effort to come to an understanding with the government.

HCO: How does it feel to be so close to your enemy?

IM: In spite of sitting at the same table two groups with very different views, almost antagonistic, we have to tolerate and understand each other. At a negotiating table one should respect the other party, and I think that respect should be mutual. There are moments of algid, strong discussions, but soon things turn back to normal because we know that we must come to an understanding.

HCO: Negotiations in war move between two opponents. It seems to me that you put more emotion on it.

IM: You’re right. The government has always had a tendency to seek the subjugation of the guerrillas as a synonym for peace, not peace through structural changes. The oligarchy wants peace for free. We are making great efforts for them to understand that you need to generate an atmosphere for peace, and that it can be achieved through institutional and political transformations. We are sure that the most important thing for Colombia is to ensure real democracy, where the sovereign people can determine strategic policies, where the opinion of the people is taken into account without being stigmatized and murdered.

HCO: Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that at various times President Juan Manuel Santos has wanted to pull back.

Rodrigo Granda: I don´t think he wants to withdraw, but he does seem afraid. It’s as if he were afraid of former President Alvaro Uribe, of the cattle-breeders, of narco-paramilitary power and the obscure sector within the Armed Forces. Santos recoils despite having the support of a significant sector of industrialists, bankers and churches. For example, according to reports we have, Sarmiento Angulo (2), one of the most powerful men in Colombia, supports the dialogue process. Surveys say that 87% of Colombians also want peace. The correlation of forces in favor of peace is indisputable. Uribe aside, nobody speaks about war anymore. But it seems that Santos does not want to face those sectors led by Uribe, he wants to fight us militarily, and assumes intransigent positions that do not allow a correct development of the dialogues. We know that Uribe has prepared 13,000 paramilitaries, known unofficially as the “anti-land restitution army.” Is it that the Armed Forces and Santos don´t know about that? Of course they do! Is that what Santos is afraid of? Or is he taking it as part of a possible move against us?

HCO: Clearly Uribe tries to torpedo the negotiations. Do you think he wants to return to presidency?

RG: And he wants that to protect himself, because he’s afraid of being sent to Miami for drug trafficking, or to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. It would be favorable for him if the negotiations failed, so that he can appear before the country as the solution. Although he wasn´t able to resolve the “problem” of the guerrillas during the eight years he was in office. Pablo Catatumbo: Anyway, Santos and Uribe have the same idea about the ​​negotiations: a peace process by submission. They are blind, deaf and quite wrong, but think they’re smart. And that is where we must continue with wisdom to prove that they are wrong, and that like this, the war will continue.

HCO: In statements you´ve made and documents I’ve read, you are asking for reforms in state institutions and the modernization of the State itself, which may be contradictory for a Marxist-Leninist communist guerrilla.

IM: At the table we are not proposing radical changes to the political or economic structures of the state. Over there, we don´t mention socialism or communism. We try to create conditions to reach an understanding with the government. A place where two different views can meet. We know that some leftist organizations, not only in Colombia, say that we became a reformist guerrilla.

We have made minimum proposals, for example the hundred proposals about the agrarian system, which as you´ve already said, are nothing more than a modernization of the Colombian countryside, but fact is that we are still living in feudalism there. Imagine that even this way, the government puts obstacles.

HCO: What has ever signed between the parties?

RG: We have signed some things, but they are not final signatures because nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. There are points on which we haven´t agreed yet, and we let them out to discuss them later on. Otherwise there won´t be any progress.

HCO: Dialogues in Havana, and strong military confrontations in Colombia …

RG: The government doesn’t want a ceasefire, so both parties have to dialogue under fire. We are having heavy confrontations every day, to an average of three per day. We have done large-scale military actions, which they hide to the nation. Now, both parties have decided that what happens in Colombia is not going to affect the Table.

We have made some gestures of peace, as was the unilateral truce for Christmas, although we had to defend ourselves against the attacks of the army. And what has been hidden is also in that same time span multinationals could increase their profits, they did not have our pressure. That’s why one of the major reasons for ending the guerrillas is that the transnationals can steal whatever they want without any problem.

HCO: So far, what has been the main government’s intransigence in negotiations?

IM: Without any doubt, the determination not to touch the property of the big land-owners, most of which has been obtained through violent dispossession. They`re afraid of that. Their representatives, when they talk to us, have said that that could “unleash the demons of paramilitarism.” They are afraid of cattle-breeders and landowners, to touch one third of the 30 million acres they own, although not even the cows occupy them.

But land reform without touching the big property isn’t reform. There must be set limits for land property. The government has not even thought about putting taxes as a punishment for unproductive land tenure. When we proposed taxing these big properties, the government responded that there is no reliable census; that nobody knows where they are or what their extension is. They suggest that first there should be a census, which can take up to 7 or 10 years. What they don’t say is that during this time the landowners can lease or sell the land to multinationals, which is their strategy.

HCO: If the Colombian government decided to negotiate with the FARC, it was because Washington agreed. You know that that is not an exaggeration of mine. What is the current political attitude?

IM: Recently, 62 U.S. congressmen, including two Republicans, led by Jim McGovern, signed a letter of support for the talks. This letter was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry. We welcomed this altruistic gesture. The White House and the State Department have also expressed their support. Of course, there are always different interests because the Colombian conflict produces money. The powerful arms industry doesn´t want to let loose of that business.

HCO: You are determined to stop the armed struggle. What should the government offer you for this to be achieved? And you, what would you become?

RG: President Santos, during the initial interchanges with us, said he wanted to open the floodgates to a real democracy in the country. That struck us because we have never said that the armed struggle is the only way to change the country. We got up in arms, and we still carry them, because violence has closed the doors to political participation. If the possibility of doing politics legally becomes real, without the constant threat of assassination, in equal conditions and with political reforms that could lead the country towards participatory democracy, we are there. Because there could be created a favorable correlation of forces for the revolutionary movement, which routs the necessary radical changes. We accept that challenge.

PC: You need to build a strong mass movement to impose changes, because the establishment doesn’t give away anything for free. That is a task for us, leftists and Democrats. It is important to create a power block of people who want a new Colombia. That is the challenge, and it´s not a small one.

But you see, as we talk about it at the conversation Table, the repression continues all around the country. The government hasn’t changed anything regarding the treatment of social protest: they are stigmatized, associated with the guerrillas to criminalize them and attack them with bullets. And if there is something we have very clear is that we are not willing to repeat the experience of the Patriotic Union, during which nearly 4000 members and leaders (3) were killed.

History, if it’s not manipulated, doesn´t lie: they have been the violent ones. When we remind the governmental team of these facts, they tell us that they are not here to talk about that. Why? What do they feel ashamed or afraid about? Without knowing the history of political violence in Colombia, how are we to know why we got to the current situation and how to resolve it?

IM: There are three items on the agenda to be discussed: guarantees to exercise political activity, political participation and bilateral and definitive ceasefire. The latter discusses the surrender of weapons and under what conditions. But let it be understood: that´s not handing over weapons. We cannot talk about these points until they are discussed in the table, and they will be the last ones on the agenda.

HCO: What will happen with the paramilitaries?

IM: They must definitively be eliminated; if not, there would be no certainty for an insurgent organization to incorporate into legal politics. That’s an insurmountable condition to reach a peace agreement. And it is the government who has to give the order to his generals to stop the state’s counterinsurgency strategy.

HCO: Are you determined to apologize for the suffering you have caused in this war?

PC: We have made mistakes, some serious, indeed. But whatever official propaganda says, aggression to the population has never been a strategy of the FARC. On the contrary, we have defended them against the army and its paramilitaries, mainly on the countryside.

I have no problem in saying to a woman or a family: “I feel sorry about the pain we have caused with the death of your loved one.” But this is much more complex. Are we going to apologize? Very well. Let´s also invite the economic associations that financed the war and paramilitaries; let´s invite all State institutions, because they guarantee repression and impunity; let´s invite the mass media, too, because they reproduced the stigmatization made by security agencies, which have led to the murders and massacres; the rightist political parties should also sit down and assume their great responsibilities; the former presidents of the republic who gave the orders. Not even the Catholic Church can deny its responsibility! And the governments of the United States, Israel, some European countries and others that have supported various criminal governments of Colombia cannot be left outside of this ceremony. All together, we can decide who the terrorists and murderers of the people are.

HCO: You point out, and rightly so, that the government, its armed forces and the mass media are responsible for psychological warfare and propaganda against the insurgency. But I think an important sector of the so-called intelligentsia have savaged the armed struggle they supported before.

PC: Most intellectuals in Colombia, and probably in the world, are suffering from cowardice, accommodations or both things. Almost all were put by the system in the matrix of lies, and are used to “theorize”, create and repeat falsehoods. Many of them spend time writing discourses against media manipulation, but when the system starts a campaign against someone or somebody, they start talking like parrots.

In Colombia, the system told them that the guerrillas are guilty of everything. Although many of them believed, or believe, they are from the left, they repeated in unison that we are responsible for violence, drug trafficking, kidnapping, poverty, rising gasoline and even the high price of the bananas. I assure you that if tomorrow the birds stop singing, these “intellectuals” repeat what the government and their media say: the guerrillas are to be blamed. They have fallen into such poverty regarding research and argumentation, that their analyses and theories don’t endure any discussion, at least with us. They think that if they discuss with us, we´ll kill them afterwards. They are not even capable of realizing that if that was true, in Colombia there would be very few “intellectuals” left right now. Their brain doesn’t have the capacity to see that those who safeguard their intellectual and political independence are those who are said by the government to be friends or accomplices of the subversion.

HCO: I must admit, and I´m about to end, that I’m not very optimistic about these dialogues. I believe that Colombia and Colombians deserve peace with social justice, but I know the Colombian State, I know the United States, who support that State and who ultimately decides. Hopefully the long night, imposed by State terrorism stops and finally dawns. I wish it with all my heart.

PC: Look, political conditions in Latin America have changed. Who could have imagined what happened in Venezuela and Bolivia with the arrival of Chávez and Evo? Who would have thought that other Latin American governments one day would demand respect for their sovereignty from the U.S.? There are unpredictable things, like the end of the Soviet Union for example.

In Colombia there is an accumulation of hunger, exclusion, injustice and repression. The time will come when people simply won´t take it anymore. There is an accumulation of ongoing processes that can make a leap any time. There is a boiling that could explode tomorrow.

Besides, Colombia is not an island. The neighboring countries are pressing the government because they are tired of the conflict that affects them. Venezuela received about 4 million displaced Colombians, Ecuador almost two million. We believe there are 13 to 15 million Colombians in neighboring countries, that is, the third part of the Colombian population. And these countries must provide housing, food and health. For how long? Apart from the budget they spend to protect their borders. Just because the Colombian government insists on not negotiating a conflict they will never win! We have asked the representatives of those nations to demand for peace, so that all our compatriots can return to their country.

We are optimistic. Revolutionaries must be optimistic, even in the worst situations. And we believe that peace will come to Colombia because we deserve it. The other possibility is total war. That´s why I say the moment has come, but that doesn’t mean it´s easy. This peace process is too complex, but we believe it is possible. We insist on striving for peace, so we will not fold our arms.

I do have hope, although I think the authorities and the Colombian oligarchy lack greatness and humility to start solving this conflict.

Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian journalist. He can be reached through his website.

NOTES:

1. “El Laguito” is a residential complex in Havana. Their houses are separated by trees and gardens. In the center is a small lake. Since November 2012, the delegations of the FARC and the Colombian government are located in this peaceful scenery.

2. According to the magazine Forbes (edition 2012). Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo listed as the first billionaire in Colombia, and would rank 64 in the world.

3. The Patriotic Union was born in 1985, as a result of the talks between the government of Belisario Betancur and the FARC. According to the Colombian justice, there was a “political genocide” against the Patriotic Union.

Translation: http://en.firatnews.com/news/news/g…

Source

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombia: FARC and Government Reach Agreement on Land Reform

Conjunto de vallenato Fariano

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), resting in the countryside. (Photo: Phoenix Diaz)
By Avery Kelly | The Argentina Independent | May 27, 2013

Representatives from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government announced yesterday that they have signed a keynote agreement on land reform.

The accord is a big step forward for the on-going peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba between the rebel group and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, as land reform is the first of six main issues on the agenda for discussion.

The agreement comes after nearly six months of talks on the subject.

A press release ratified by both parties stated that the accord facilitates the “start of radical transformations of the rural and agrarian reality of Colombia with fairness and democracy”.

President Santos applauded yesterday’s accord, commenting on Twitter that the land reform measure is a breakthrough for the peace talks and a “fundamental step in Havana towards a full agreement that will put an end to half a century of conflict”.

Iván Márquez, chief negotiator of the FARC, explained: “This historical recognition is felt by the rural and impoverished communities and is a flag in the wind in our hands … at the negotiation table.”

However, Márquez added that some of the points of the accord must be discussed again before negotiations end. He commented, “nothing is agreed upon until everything has been agreed upon”, referring to discussions still to come on other polemic topics in the peace talks expected to finish by August.

Land reform has been a fundamental issue for both the government and the FARC even before the peace talks began. Land disputes were one of the primary issues that the Marxist-leaning rebel group took on as early as 1964.

Now that the land reform issue has been decided, government and FARC negotiators will move discussions to the political participation of the rebel forces, the fight against drug trafficking, and an end to the conflict more generally with respect to victim compensation.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Colombia: FARC and Government Reach Agreement on Land Reform

Colombia: President Santos Announces ‘Profound Changes’

By Kari Paul | The Argentina Independent | March 14, 2013

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced yesterday that he will initiate “an agenda of transformation” in the 16 months he has left in office.

This announcement comes as Santos continues peace negotiations with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Congress announced last week that a resolution will be made with the armed revolutionary group by August.

“Our vision is of a just, modern, and safe Colombia,” Santos said, according to El Tiempo.

He added that disarming FARC is not enough and that the system must change in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

“Some people continue to be stuck in the past, selling us a vision of a Colombia condemned to another 50 years of violence, paralysed by fear and without the capacity to imagine anything more than what it has always been,” he said. “However we, the large majority, believe in our future.”

Officials and Santos finalised this new “comprehensive government strategy” in a meeting Monday.

Beginning today, union directors and business owners will begin meeting to design and begin this project that Santos called “an emergency plan for growth and productivity.”

Beyond lowering rates of violence in the country, the president announced goals of a more “modern Colombia,” including plans to build 317 kilometres of highways this year.

Santos added that he is “committed… to making it so that Colombia can say ‘we have peace’ before leaving the government.”

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Comments Off on Colombia: President Santos Announces ‘Profound Changes’

Colombia: FARC Reiterates Call for Ceasefire During Peace Talks

By Marc Rogers | The Argentina Independent | February 2013

The leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)’s negotiating team, Iván Márquez, underscored the group’s willingness to agree to a bilateral ceasefire with government forces while historic peace talks between the two continue.

ivan_marquez-25eneroAt the start of the fifth round of peace talks in Havana, Cuba, Márquez praised the proposal for a ceasefire written by Colombian politician and former cabinet minister Álvaro Leyva in a column for the El Nuevo Siglo newspaper.

Leyva called for a bilateral truce with international verification and oversight.

“For us a ceasefire requires a huge effort,” said Márquez, “but we know it is an important step to demonstrate a will for peace on both sides.”

FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire for two months after peace talks began in November last year, but did not extend the measure after the government refused to reciprocate. Even as peace talks continued, there has been an upsurge in violence since that ceasefire ended on 20th January, with seven Colombian soldiers killed in the latest incident.

The government has so far refused to accept a ceasefire agreement, over concerns that it would allow the guerilla group to re-arm and consolidate its position.

February 19, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Comments Off on Colombia: FARC Reiterates Call for Ceasefire During Peace Talks

FARC has ‘always wanted peace’ in Columbia – RT exclusive

RT | December 4, 2012

Colombian rebel militants FARC seek dialogue and peace with the country’s government, FARC negotiator Tanja Nijmeijer told RT in an exclusive interview. But despite renewed peace talks, government forces killed at least 20 rebels in a recent attack.

Dutch militant Tanja Nijmeijer – who left the Netherlands 10 years ago to join the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and fight for what she calls social justice – spoke with RT, saying that the rebel organization wants to end the country’s 50-year conflict.

“We as an armed organization have always wanted a dialogue, we’ve always wanted peace, we have always asked for peace,” she said.

“We have not taken the arms because we wanted so. We have taken the arms because the Colombian State and the United States imperialism have obliged us to do so,” Nijmeijer said.

Talks between the Colombian government and FARC over fragile peace negotiations are set to resume in Havana, Cuba, on December 7.

At least 20 left-wing rebels were killed in Colombia on Sunday after airstrikes against their camp near the Ecuadorian border, the army said. The attack came after FARC announced a ceasefire until January 1, 2013, for the negotiations.

“People who are in Colombia want to fight for ideas different from neoliberal are killed,” Nijmeijer told RT. “So how is it possible to participate in politics if people who have other ideas are killed. And that’s the reason of arm struggle in Colombia. That’s the reason why we are still fighting.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has set a deadline of November 2013 for an agreement to be reached in the peace talks with FARC. “This has to be a process of months, rather than years. In other words, this should not last any longer than November next year at the latest,” Santos said.

The president’s statement followed an acknowledgement by FARC that it was holding “prisoners of war” – reportedly soldiers or police captured during combat. FARC stated that the prisoners would be freed in exchange for the release of rebels held by the government.

The Colombian government currently detains around 700 rebel prisoners, according to Sandra Ramirez, one of FARC’s representatives.

The US has been criticized for its role in helping the Colombian government kill members of FARC; Washington’s military assistance to Columbia has been directed primarily towards killing FARC militants.

In nearly a half-century of conflict in Columbia, an estimated 600,000 people have died and another 15,000 gone missing. Some 4 million people have also been internally displaced.

Find out more about FARC and the peace process from RT’s full exclusive interview with Tanja Nijmeijer, airing Wednesday at 18:45 GMT.

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on FARC has ‘always wanted peace’ in Columbia – RT exclusive

Venezuelan Government Welcomes Colombian Peace Accord

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | September 5th 2012

Mérida – Yesterday in an official statement, President Hugo Chavez expressed his “happiness” at the announcement of a general accord between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which outlines dialogue steps towards ending the “long night of violence” Colombia has been subject to since the 1960s.

Colombian president Juan Santos confirmed yesterday that his government and the FARC signed the framework agreement, which is the result of six months of exploratory meetings in Havana, Cuba.

The schedule of meetings outlined in it will be accompanied by mediators from the Cuban and Norwegian governments, and Venezuela and Chile will also attend the process. Talks will begin in Oslo in early October, then move on to Havana. They will be centered on five key themes; rural development in order to guarantee land access, political participation, end to the armed conflict, drug trafficking, and rights of the victims.

“We have worked seriously and I should recognise that the FARC have also, they have respected everything agreed on till now,” said Santos. He also informed press today that Colombian ex-vice president Humberto de La Calle will be heading up the first negotiations between the government and the FARC, together with four others, including the Colombian head of police, and the president of Colombia’s business association. The five person negotiating teams will rotate with others for each meeting.

Chavez congratulated the governments of Cuba and Norway for their “successful management” and the Venezuelan government, in its statement, ratified its “total disposition to contribute, to the extent that the people of Colombia and their government deem it necessary, towards this brother country being able to put an end to the armed conflict and construct stable and lasting peace”.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Nicolas Maduro also said last night that Venezuela will assign one representative to accompany the dialogue process, and will announce that person in the coming days.

“It’s up to us to accompany and support Colombia in the construction of a new history of peace,” Maduro said, explaining that the accord would benefit Venezuela as much as Colombia, allowing them to develop economic zones together, strengthen their trade, education plans, cultural exchange, and the “construction of a border of shared life”.

The end of conflict would have even further consequences for Venezuela, according to analyst Sergio Rodriguez, speaking on Venezuelan public television last night. He said the large numbers of Colombians currently living in the country could return there, and the resources that Venezuela is currently forced to direct towards defence could instead go towards social projects and development. Further, the US “wants to involve us in the drug trafficking which originates in Colombia”, one of the key issues under discussion.

Yesterday both parties to the accord expressed appreciation for Venezuela’s role in peace efforts for Colombia. Santos said, “I want to thank the government of Venezuela for its permanent disposition to help at any time” and FARC spokesperson Rodrigo Londono also thanked Chavez for his offer of mediation.

Londono expressed his confidence in the dialogue process. “The FARC hold the most sincere desire that the [Colombian] regime won’t try to repeat the past,” he said. “We call on all of Colombia to … demand its participation or to assume it in the streets … another Colombia is possible”.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment