Friday, August 22, 2014

Colombia: Update--Delegations of Victims to Attend Peace Talks, Discuss Impact on Lives

According to The Latin American Tribunethe head of the Colombian government delegation negotiating peace with leftist FARC guerrillas said on Friday (August 22) that the process is entering “decisive moments” and that there are “serious possibilities” for ending the decades-long conflict.

Humberto de la Calle, a former vice president, said those words in a statement read to the press at the conclusion of the 27th round of talks that began August 12, which focused on the point referring to reparations for the victims.

The two sides are expected to resume their dialogue in early September.

De la Calle noted the particular importance of this round, since for the first time the talks were held in the presence of victims, independent academics and active-duty military officers.

A technical team made up chiefly of the military high command took part Friday for the first time in the dialogue and sat face-to-face before representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to a source close to the negotiations.

COMMENT: The purpose of this team is to help make progress on the next point on the roadmap of negotiations dealing with the end of hostilities and the laying down of arms, though De la Calle insisted that this final issue is still not being negotiated, the two sides are simply preparing “possible future mechanisms that will only take effect in the moment” that a “final agreement” is reached.

“To put an end to the conflict, the opposing parties must discuss the procedures for ending the war in such a way that FARC members can make the transition to civilian life without arms and with guarantees for their safety, and for the safety of all Colombians,” he said.

A group of victims took part in this round of talks for the first time since the talks began in November 2012, while another four delegations of victims are expected to travel later to Havana.