Thursday, September 25, 2014

Colombia: Santos Government, FARC Rebels Release Text of 3 Draft Agreements

According to The Latin American Tribunethe Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have released the full texts of three draft agreements reached during the ongoing peace process in Havana, saying they are making the text public to ensure transparency and combat misinformation from opponents of the talks.

The 65 pages pertain to three points of the six-point agenda at the 22-month-old talks in the Cuban capital: land reform, political participation of demobilized rebels and joint efforts to combat illegal drugs.

The documents, signed by negotiators from both sides, can be viewed on the Web site for the Colombian peace process: www.mesadeconversaciones.com.co.

The government and rebel delegations announced the release of the documents in a joint statement on Wednesday (September 24), saying they have “reliably” reported the progress made in the talks since the negotiations began.

“Nonetheless, all kinds of speculation about the agreements persists. Speculation that at times is the result of ignorance regarding statements and reports (released by the negotiating table) but at other times of a clear intention to misinform public opinion,” the statement added.

“For that reason, and as a measure of transparency, we decided to publish the text of the draft agreements, it said.

The documents also highlight issues on which no consensus has been reached or whose discussion has been moved to other points on the agenda.

The parties emphasized the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Until there is no agreement on all points as a whole, there is no final agreement on any of them.

The head of the government’s delegation to the peace talks, Humberto de la Calle, appeared before the media in Havana on Wednesday to explain the decision to make the documents public. He also stressed, however, that the negotiating table will not “relinquish the necessary confidentiality of future discussions and agreements under construction.

The FARC negotiators are expected to answer questions from reporters about the newly released documents on Thursday.

COMMENT: Both sides of the Santos Government and the FARC hierarchy are to be congratulated for their deliberations thus far in the hope of a lasting peace between two parties that have been engaged in armed hostilities since 1964. 

President Juan Manuel Santos, who was to speak Thursday to the UN General Assembly in New York City, on Wednesday was the first to announce the decision to publish the draft agreements.

The Colombian rebels and government negotiators are currently holding the 29th round of peace talks in Havana, focused on the issue of reparations to victims.

The remaining items on the agenda are the demobilization of rebel fighters and the implementation of the peace deal, which would have to be approved in a popular referendum.

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