The latest phase of Colombia’s peace process got underway on Monday, with criticisms from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s chief negotiator Ivan Marquez.
He who criticized the “political” task handed to members of Colombia’s military at the talks, and warned the negotiations were a long way from over.
Marquez questioned the announcement three days earlier by President Juan Manuel Santos of a military “Transitional Command” led by General Javier Florez, tasked with overseeing disarmament and demobilization. Previously a military sub-commission had been announced to provide technical advice and assistance.
“It should be noted in relation to the creation of the Transition Command, that the FARC will in no way accept a military hierarchy to resolve issues that are political by definition, and as important as the surrender of arms,” said Marquez.
“We are not in the final straight. High officials of the government are creating a sensation that through the visit of the first group of victims and presence of General Javier Florez, as well as a group of colonels in Havana, what follows is the handing in of arms and demobilization of the guerrillas,” said Marquez.
For NGO Foundation Ideas for Peace´s executive director Maria Victoria Llorente, the statements made by Marquez amount, at least in part, to public posturing ahead of this latest round of talks, but also highlight the fact that signing an agreement by the end of the year – as promised by Santos during his reelection campaign earlier in the year – may not be realistic.
“I think there was, there is a frustration on the part of the FARC with regard to this [Santos’] announcement, during which he sent the message ‘we’re in the final straight’, and the FARC are saying, ‘well, we still have not agreed on everything,’ and the reality is, the way things are going, this year we are not going to see an agreement signed,” said Llorente.
The public friction between the two sides is only likely to benefit the vocal minority opposition inside Colombia, it may now fall on both sides to come out and provide a more positive outlook for the negotiations, given the imminent arrival of the second group of victims in Havana.