Saturday, November 9, 2013
Significant agreement for peace in Colombia reached in Havana
IT took close to five months, but the agreement on political participation reached November 6 between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Army of the People (FARC-EP) constitutes a significant step toward ending half a century of armed conflict.
In a joint communiqué issued at Havana’s International Convention Center, the parties detailed the scope of the consensus reached on Point 2 of the six-point agenda.
The key issues on which agreement was reached are rights and guarantees for the exercise of political opposition in general and, in particular for the new movements which will emerge after the end of the conflict.
In the same way democratic mechanisms were agreed for citizens’ participation and the inclusion within politics of all sectors, including the most vulnerable.
They clarified, however, that what has been agreed to date is part of a broader agreement which they hope to finalize shortly. The text quotes the principle governing the talks: "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." In other words, particular advances are linked to securing peace.
Although partial, the success on this second point, after the historic agreement reached in May on the agrarian issue, advances the Havana effort to an as yet unprecedented terrain in a large number of previous peace talks between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla movement.
One has to go back to the negotiations with Belisaro Betancur in the 1980’s, which reached their maximum development with the signed of the La Uribe Agreement, fundamentally based on the political issue and the laying down of arms.
From the experience emerged the Unión Patriótica (UP) Party, comprising demobilized guerrillas, which was dissolved with the mass extermination of its members, to a total oscillating between 1,000 and 4,000.
Iván Márquez, head of the FARC-EP delegation, even reached the Congress of the Republic after laying down his arms but, like many others, had to return to the guerrilla movement given the risk to his life.
Without any doubt, the bloody history of the UP hangs over the current talks. Precisely one of the agreements made public November 6 was the creation of an integral system of security for the exercise of politics on the basis of respect for life and the freedom of thought and opinion.
The repercussion extends to a future FARC-EP integrated into national political life. In fact, it is proposed to convene a forum in Colombia with a view toward creating an opposition statute, a long-held desire for clearly laying down the rules of the game.
Other aspects on which advances have been made during this round are the recognition of the need for "institutional changes" to the electoral system, as well as concrete measures to "guarantee and promote a culture of reconciliation, coexistence and tolerance," a sensitive issue for a nation marked by violence.
Equally innovative and interesting is the approach made to the problem of the political participation in regions most affected by the armed conflict, which historically have lived on the margins of what takes place in Bogotá. For these regions, a special system is proposed to increase their presence in the Chamber of Representatives.
Colombia and a large part of the world have been following the peace talks in Havana and finally, new and concrete results have emerged from the 16th round of talks. At their own pace, it has been demonstrated that the negotiations are moving forward, and that peace is at least closer than it was a year ago.
PRESIDENT Juan Manuel Santos addressed the country from Bogotá and reiterated that he is convinced peace is possible and that the talks will not break down at a time when progress is being made.
"It would be irresponsible to sacrifice the greatest opportunity for peace we have had for political calculations or questions of time," he said, adding that this is the time to "continue and accelerate" the process.
The head of the government’s delegation, former Vice President Humberto de la Calle, commented in Havana that an agreement on political participation would open the road to definitively establishing peace after the end of the conflict.
"We are therefore seeking reconciliation, that politics be free of intimidation and violence. Never again politics and arms together," he said.
LEADER of the FARC-EP delegation Comandante Iván Márquez, emphasized the need to respect life and divergent political positions in Colombia.
"Colombia is living a springtime of dreams of justice; above all, the most humble, the dispossessed, have taken to the streets to tell the rulers that they can no longer be ignored," he stated.
Márquez acknowledged the significance of the agreement with the government on the issue of political participation, but added that peace depends on other factors, such as an end to corruption and interference by mafias which have captured state power.
STATEMENT BY CUBAN GUARANTOR ROADOLFO BENÍTEZ
WE salute the important results achieved by the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Army of the People (FARC-EP) on Point 2, referring to Political Participation, on the agenda of the peace talks taking place in Havana.
These agreements, added to those announced this past May 26 in relation to Point 1 concerning the Integral Agrarian Development Policy, constitute a new advance in the efforts to attain peace in Colombia.
In its cond
ition as a guarantor of the peace talks in conjunction with Norway, Cuba will continue contributing, as far as possible, to the achievement of a Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and enduring peace in Colombia.
Posted by Alter P at Saturday, November 09, 2013