HAVANA TIMES — The Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group announced today in Havana the reaching of an agreement to close the second point of the peace talks, stalled for weeks by differences over the political future of the guerrillas, reported dpa news.
“We have reached a basic agreement on the second item on the agenda,” said the statement read out in the presence of both delegations at the Havana Convention Center.
“When applied, what we have agreed on strengthens our democracy, expanding the rights and guarantees for the opposition, as well as spaces of political and civic participation,” it states.
The accord “opens spaces for the emergence of new political movements that require guarantees for the exercise of politics.”
Back in late May of this year, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of Juan Manuel Santos reached an initial agreement on the first item on the agenda of the peace talks, relating to agricultural development.
The talks had stalled however in recent months by differences over political participation, an item of negotiation since June.
Today they announced consensus on three points. Among them, the guarantees for the exercise of the political opposition and media access, as well as measures to promote greater participation in politics.
Matters still to be resolved in the process include a possible amnesty for guerrillas involved in the conflict. Several have been sentenced in absentia to long prison terms.
The delegations led by former Vice President Humberto de la Calle and guerrilla Luciano Marín (alias “Ivan Marquez”) have yet to agree on a possible public referendum of a future peace agreement.
While the government is proposing a referendum to approve the text, the guerrillas seeks the holding of a Constitutional Assembly.
The FARC and the government of Santos opened talks on October 18, 2012 in Oslo to try to end half a century of armed conflict. Negotiations moved a month later permanently to Havana.
It is estimated that violence has left more than 220,000 dead in 50 years in the South American country. The FARC, founded in 1964 as a Marxist-inspired rural guerrilla, is the main group fighting the Colombian state.