Colombian Peace Talks Continue

Peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and  government negotiators are making progress but still have a long way to go. The talks, which started in Havana four months ago, are the latest attempt to find a peaceful resolution to one of South America’s longest and bloodiest conflicts.

Former Vice President Humberto de la Calle said he hoped they could settle the issue quickly when they meet again on April 2, but the rebels said in a news conference they were still adding proposals, which now number 90, for the government to consider.

“There’s no step backwards. We’re always going forward, advancing slowly if you want to think that way, but also persistently,” FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez said after reading nine new proposals denouncing such things as free-trade pacts with other countries and the foreign buying of Colombian land.

While there is hope, there is still a long way to go before a final deal can be signed. This is because some of the trickiest topics remain on the table including defining the final legal status of the rebels and addressing the massive drug trade which has been a lucrative source of funding for the rebels for decades.

The war, which started in the 1960s and has caused a reported 50,000 to 200,000 casualties, has lessened in recent years. However, reports are that FARC still maintains 18,000 fighters and thus has real potential to create widespread insecurity in the country.

Negotiated settlements are far from easy to pull off, especially between groups with so much distance between them. Furthermore, often these talks can drag on years, as both sides haggle over everything from major concessions to punctuation of the actual treaty document. Don’t expect a deal to happen for long while. But there is hope, and some is far from nothing.

Photo credit: Medea_Material