Peace Talks ‘Can End’

By bogotapost July 30, 2014

But conflict victims still preparing to fly to Havana, Cuba and meet both FARC and Gov’t negotiators

By Mark Kennedy

Colombia's President Santos delivers a speech after a private meeting with Panamanian President Varela at the presidential palace in Panama City The Colombian President said on Tuesday, July 29 that the wave of attacks carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas threaten to derail the peace talks if they continue.

Santos made the threat to pull out of the peace talks, which began in November 2012, after a wave of bombings of energy infrastructure and attacks on military personnel and even against an army base in what many fear is a new military offensive by the guerrillas.

“What we are saying to (the FARC) is, keep this up and you are playing with fire, and the peace process can end,” Reuters news agency quoted the president as saying on Tuesday.

He was referring to infrastructure attacks, including a major one this week on an electricity pylon that cut power to more than 500,000 people in Buenaventura, the largest city on Colombia’s Pacific coast, the Reuters report said.

“It’s something demented … They are digging their own political grave because this is exactly what makes people reject them,” Santos was quoted as saying in the Reuters report, referring to another recent attack on an aqueduct that left several towns in Meta department without water.

The FARC have been fighting successive governments for 50 years in a conflict that has killed around 220,000 people and which mushroomed out of a peasant movement seeking land reform.

Conflict Victims Prepare for Havana Meeting

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Monsignor Luis Augusto Castro said he had met with both government and FARC negotiators the victims of the conflict, many of whom are scheduled to fly to Havana to join the peace talks in August.

“Saturday and Sunday we were at the table of Havana and we realized we are seriously working, are working with hope, and hope that we support this process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Father Dario Echeverry, secretary of the National Reconciliation Commission, said after the trip to the venue of the talks, it became clear to them that the peace process will continue despite the setbacks.

“We left with a conviction that they want a face to face meeting with victims of the conflict, and not for the purpose of re-victimizing, but to give them a dignified treatment,” he said.