Monday, August 27, 2012
Colombian Government and Guerillas Agree to Dialogue? (Updated: Yes).
Update: Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos confirmed news reports claiming that the government is holding negotiations with the FARC guerillas.
"We have had exploratory conversations with the FARC to seek an end to the conflict," Santos said in a televised speech on Monday night according to Reuters.
He added that the military would continue operations while talks continued and that future discussions could be held with the ELN rebels.
Original Post: The Colombian government and the FARC rebels have reportedly agreed to start a peace process that could lead to the end of a very violent chapter in the South American country’s history.
Venezuelan–based news network teleSUR claimed today that government representatives including the Colombian security minister and an ex-peace commissioner met with several guerilla commanders in Havana, Cuba. There they signed a pact agreeing to formally commence a dialogue in October in Oslo, Norway and subsequently continue discussions in Havana.
teleSUR’s news director, Jorge Enrique Botero, further alleged that today’s agreement comes after months of “secret negotiations” brokered by the Venezuelan, Cuban and Norwegian governments. That may’ve been corroborated by an article yesterday in Colombia’s El Espectador that, according to the Colombia Reports website, claimed that the Venezuelan government “has been called on as mediator when talks turned sour.”
Few details are known about the supposed deal though Reuters reports, “the government has agreed that leaders of the FARC would not be extradited to another country to stand trial.”
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos or senior government officials have thus far refused to publicly confirm or deny that a deal was reached. According to the BBC, Santos will provide an official reply “at the government’s convenience.”
Several former government officials interviewed by RCN including ex-president Ernesto Samper and ex-foreign relations minister Julio Londoño have given their approval of a possible peace process. Former president Alvaro Uribe, who Santos served under as Minster of Defense, blasted the potential dialogue as an “offense against democracy.” (Despite Uribe’s heavy criticism of Santos and his security policies, his government allegedly pursued “secret” negotiations with the FARC and the ELN rebels).
Over the past several months the FARC have hinted at seeking a peace process including the freeing of all kidnapped uniformed personnel. Nevertheless, the militarily weakened guerillas have continued their offensive against the state that has reportedly included a deadly “taxibomb” explosion yesterday.
Video Source– YouTube via user Elespectadorcom
Online Sources (including Update)– UPI, The Latin Americanist, Colombia Reports, BBC Mundo, teleSUR, Noticias Caracol, RCN Radio, El Tiempo, Reuters, MSNBC