The nine months of official talks between President Juan Manuel Santos’s government and the FARC have advanced further than any of the three previous negotiations that Colombian governments had held with the rebels.
But there are crises.
On Friday, the FARC said it would “pause” negotiations after criticizing Santos for having presented a bill to Congress that would permit a referendum for Colombians to vote on any peace accords. Hours later, the group said it would return to talks Monday.
But Santos still ordered half of his negotiating team back to Bogota for consultations, saying, “In this process, the one who declares pauses and puts conditions is not the FARC.”
Although government officials said the entire team would be back in Havana on Monday to resume talks, such squabbles have given ammunition to opponents of the talks and soured millions of Colombians on the possibility that peace will ever come to this country of 47 million people. On Saturday, news that a guerrilla ambush in the country’s eastern plains had killed 13 soldiers further outraged Colombians.
A poll published in July showed that 54 percent of Colombians surveyed were pessimistic about the talks, up from 41 percent in September 2012.
“I think there is a repudiation of the whole notion that people in the FARC should be treated other than war criminals,” said Cynthia Arnson, an expert on Latin American peace processes at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
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