Latin American Program in the News: Will Continued Hostilities Derail Colombia's Peace Talks?

Inter-American Dialogue

Mar 04, 2013
Cynthia J. Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington:
 
"Peace processes worldwide are frequently characterized by a perverse logic: armed actors intensify violence in order to demonstrate how much pain they are
capable of inflicting in the absence of an accord. But whether increased violence adds to the incentives to negotiate, or destroys confidence in the process alto-
gether, depends entirely on context. In Colombia, there is deep distrust regarding the FARC's real interest in peace, given its routine violations of interna-
tional humanitarian law, involvement in the drug trade, and behavior during the four-year peace process under the Andrés Pastrana administration. Against this backdrop, the FARC's declaration of a unilateral two-month cease-fire last November was a welcome gesture, albeit one that for political reasons the government could not reciprocate. Now that the cease-fire is over and FARC attacks are escalating, there is increased pressure to show that the negotiations are bearing fruit or public support will evaporate. The relentless hostility of former President Álvaro Uribe and his supporters poses a grave danger in this regard. Public statements by the negotiating parties indicate that the possibility for an agreement on land issues is substantial, but the government's self-imposed deadline of next November appears unrealistic given the number of remaining issues on the agenda. An accord with the FARC would have a significant impact on the rural communities most affected by the conflict, help address longstanding structural inequalities, and bolster economic development. The effect on overall levels of violence and organized crime is much less certain."

 

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