Colombia and FARC guerrillas fail to meet deadline for peace

The Colombian government and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) did not reach a peace agreement by the scheduled May 23 deadline. In the last round of negotiations held in Havana, Cuba, important issues such as the surrender of arms by the guerrillas prevented once again an end to the armed conflict in the South American country.

(Soundbite, Spanish) Humberto de la Calle, head of the Colombian government delegation
“We will exhaust all possible efforts to reach a final agreement. However, this requires prompt decisions. Colombians are demanding an agreement. However, we will not veer from these central issues but we will now stay indefinitely in Havana.”

This impasse comes two days after both sides met separately with U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. For the FARC, this failure is explained by the logical demands of putting an end to a long and complex war.

(Soundbite, Spanish) Ivan Marquez, head of the FARC delegation
“Our commitment to hasten the end to the armed conflict has led us to participate decisively in the construction of a roadmap to peace “.

On a positive note, the failure of the parties to reach an agreement seems not to have diminished the hope of the Colombian population who are content to wait for a binding and lasting agreement to be reached.
(Soundbite, Spanish) Piedad Cordoba, leader of the Marcha Patriotica movement
“We are very hopeful but also very concerned about the paramilitary groups. It seems as if these groups are regrouping in certain regions where there could be unarmed insurgents. We see no strong government action on this issue, such as the case of Marcha Patriotica, where 104 people have been killed. ”

Amid an atmosphere of distrust, Colombians also want to see the National Liberation Army (ELN) included in the peace negotiations.

(Soundbite, Spanish) Ivan Cepeda, Senator for the Democratic Pole
“After 60 years of war, there is much mistrust. Paramilitarism has always impeded progress in the peace process in Colombia due to a wave of assassinations of social leaders. We ask for guarantees that the same story will not happen again as it has in so many peace processes. However, I think that this can be overcome, we are moving in that direction. ”

During these negotiations, which began in November 2012 in Havana, the parties have already reached agreements on important issues such as the transformation of the FARC into a political party, mine clearance, the search for missing persons and retributions to victims of the conflict.

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