Colombia, FARC agree on political participation for rebel fighters
Colombia government and guerrilla negotiators have agreed on plan that would see armed fighters abandon their weapons and participate in politics.
The agreement announced in Havana, Cuba on Tuesday removes a huge obstacle from the almost year-old peace negotiations. The FARC and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos are seeking to end the half century of conflict that has devastated Colombian society.
Santos has staked his political future to ending the FARC´s long armed struggle against the Colombian state.
The agreement is said to include measures to protect guerrillas from a genocidal massacre similar to the one that occurred after some FARC members and other leftists took up politics with the Union Patriotica in the 1980s. The Union Patriotica was formed as a direct result of peace negotiations, but thousands of members of the political group were assassinated when they attempted to take part in politics.
Polo Democratico Congressman Iván Cepeda Castro celebrated the news in Bogotá on Wednesday.
“I believe this is an agreement without precedent that will permit us to consider an agreement to end the conflict,¨ Cepeda said in an interview in Spanish with a Colombian news service. The leftist congressman´s own father was a Union Patriotica senator who was gunned down in the streets of Colombia in 1994. His son followed him into politics and has been under constant threat of assassination.
Two Union Patriotica presidential candidates, eight congressmen and about 70 councillors were included in the deadly campaign.
Two presidential candidates were murdered, plus eight congressmen, 70 councilmen, dozens of deputies and mayors, hundreds of trade unionists, communist and peasant leaders, and a unestablished number of militants.
One of the FARC´s principal negotiators Iván Marquez was elected to congress as a Union Patriotica representative, but fled for the mountains and took up arms as a guerrilla leader during the massacre.
More progress is still needed before the government and guerrillas will be ready to present a comprehensive peace plan to Colombians in a referendum. But political participation is a huge incentive for rebels who wish to lay down their arms and participate in political reforms.
Thorny outstanding issues include developing policies to combat the violence associated with Colombia´s illegal drug trade.
- Peace with FARC guerrillas could spark another killing spree (davidhogben.wordpress.com)