“The peace process will be successful if it is serious, realistic and efficient,” Humberto de la Calle the government’s chief negotiator stated in Norway today.
“We are not discussing the model of economic development. We are not discussing foreign investment. For that to be discussed on the Colombian agenda, the FARC have to lay down their arms, enter politics and win elections,” de la Calle explained.
Negotiators from the Colombian government and left-wing Farc rebels have set the stage for their first direct talks for a decade. A joint statement announced that November 15 is when the two parties will start discussions in earnest. The talks aim to end Colombia’s complex, nearly 50 year old conflict which has claimed over 600,000 lives since the fight began in 1964.
Farc where originally established to create a Marxist revolution in Colombia however in recent years they have had to become further and deeper involved in the drug trade to fund their campaign. Many critics accuse the group of losing sight of the reason for the organizations creation.
Unfortunately, both sides seem to have very different intentions for the process. “The Colombian government wants the Farc to lay down its weapons, with structural issues coming later in the third phase of the process, while the rebels want to use the current phase to discuss structural change, our correspondent says”, the BBC explains. Hence peace will be difficult to achieve.
Peace would ironically create major problems too. “Many Colombians believe it will be impossible to absorb the thousands of FARC fighters, many of whom are illiterate, into an already difficult job market, and there are fears some rebels could turn to cocaine trafficking”, Reuters explains.
The big hope for these talks is that they government of Colombia can emulate the success of the Northern Irish peace process where the goals of the nationalist terrorist group the IRA (Irish Republican Army) were channeled from violence into politics in the form of political party Sinn Fein. In the words of de la Calle, “We are not discussing the model of economic development. We are not discussing foreign investment. For that to be discussed on the Colombian agenda, the FARC have to lay down their arms, enter politics and win elections.”