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  • Ernesto Samper, UNASUR Secretary-General and former Colombian president, wants to contribute to Colombia

    Ernesto Samper, UNASUR Secretary-General and former Colombian president, wants to contribute to Colombia's peace process. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 January 2016

​South American nations are backing Colombia's peace process, which is trying to end the country's 50 years of violent armed conflict.

UNASUR, South America's largest and arguably most important regional bloc, has thrown its support behind the Colombian peace talks as FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government get closer to reaching a final agreement

Ernesto Samper, secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, said Thursday that the regional bloc wants to contribute to the peace process, which has been ongoing in Havana, Cuba since 2012. 

IN DEPTH: The Colombian Peace Process Explained

The negotiations “have reached a state that Colombia has never seen before,” said Samper, a former Colombian president (1994-1998), upon his arrival in Cuba's capital Thursday.

“All of us who have been presidents of Colombia have tried in good faith to advance the peace process. President Santos is getting it. We are watching it with a very positive attitude, and I think the process is moving well,” he added.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, widely known by its Spanish acronym FARC, and the government have been undergoing peace talks in Havana since 2012 in an attempt to bring an end to the over 50 years of armed conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands. 

ANALYSIS: Life as a Colombian Refugee, “You Can’t Be Scared of Death There” 

In the past three years, the two sides have reached some landmark agreements, and have set a deadline of March 23 to sign a final peace deal.

Samper told local media that UNASUR “is very interested in contributing to this process” of peace.  

Before traveling to Havana, he said that the bloc intends to maintain contact with the negotiators at the talks over the next months. Samper's visit also coincided with a special event to celebrate Cuba's national hero and liberation figure, Jose Marti

Beginning Monday, more than 600 intellectuals from 45 countries will participate in a two day conference held in memory of Marti. The aim of the conference is to stimulate debate among people who share concerns about the global economic crisis, the dangers it represents for society and ideas to overcome them. 

The conference was held in the name of Marti who was a 19th century revolutionary poet, essayist, philosopher, professor and political theorist among other things. He wrote much around the liberation of Cuba from its Spanish colonizers, making him figure of independence. 

WATCH: Lives - Jose Marti and Cuban Educator Leonela Relys Diaz

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