The Colombian government resumed peace talks with FARC in Havana, Cuba, on May 3 amid growing tension between the two sides.
Peace talks with FARC began in late 2012 in an attempt to end the 50-year-old conflict between the two sides that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions. The talks are focused on issues such as allowing FARC to have a legitimate role in Colombian politics, ending FARC’s activity in the drug trade, Colombian government war crimes and victims’ reparations, and ultimately ending the conflict.
On April 15, an attack on a Colombian military post killed 10 soldiers and one FARC member. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated that the attack would not go unpunished, ordering military airstrikes on FARC to resume.
Earlier in April, a report commissioned by the Colombian government and FARC revealed that U.S. soldiers and military contractors had sexually abused at least 54 Colombian children between 2003 and 2007. The alleged abusers were not arrested due to immunity agreements between the U.S. military and Colombian government. The U.S. military has been involved in the fight against FARC since the early 1960s, having spent more than US$9 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia during the past 15 years.
The aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate by the Colombian government is expected to be discussed during the new round of peace talks with FARC. The herbicide is meant to fumigate illegal drug crops as part of Colombia’s War on Drugs policy, but it has also been described by the WHO as a probable carcinogenic. The Colombian military has stated it will continue using the herbicide, which it has used since 1994, despite recommendations by the Ministry of Health. FARC defended its position against the use of the herbicide in the days leading up to the resumed talks.
Combating the illegal drug trade has been one of Colombia’s main goals. However, FARC maintains that the coca crop, which is used in the production of cocaine, is the most profitable crop for many impoverished farmers.
Positive results have been seen in the peace talks with FARC. In May 2013, it was announced that one of the most contentious issues between the two sides had been resolved. The agreement on land reform promised to compensate those who had lost land. Also, in March of this year, an agreement was reached for the two sides to work together to remove landmines.