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Colombian government and FARC rebels negotiate


08-13-2014 10:56 BJT

Following nearly two years of talks aimed at ending Latin America’s longest running guerrilla war, Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group have reached agreements on various key issues. Both parties met recently in Havana, Cuba. 

The FARC rebel negotiators arrived for this latest round of talks prepared to confront what their newsletter describes as the most thorny issue so far, how to compensate victims of the conflict.

"We will approach this with humility to listen and forgive. Here I refer to all sides in Colombia. We must leave behind feeling of hatred and revenge if we really want to achieve a homeland in peace." Ivan Marquez, FARC Spokesman, Said.

The 50-year-long conflict has killed more than 200,000 people and forced millions more from their homes. FARC has acknowledged that innocent civilians suffered and died, but maintains that state-backed paramilitaries were responsible for the majority of victims.

The peace talks were put on hold for the Colombian presidential elections. Had President Santos lost, the whole process might have collapsed.

In the build-up to the elections, both sides were under pressure to come up with a breakthrough to show that the peace talks were making progress and they did sign off on the issue of dealing with drug trafficking. But can that momentum be maintained?

The Colombian government is concerned about a recent upsurge in guerrillas attacks. So far it has taken almost two years to reach agreement on three of the six topics on the agenda: the drug trade, rural development and integrating FARC into the political process. That is now in jeopardy after a recent Colombian high court ruling that rebels guilty of atrocities cannot hold public office.

The first victims of the conflict are due to bring their stories to the table later this week.

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