FARC and Colombian government move ahead with peace talks

By agency reporter
June 14, 2013

Negotiations between the left-wing guerilla group FARC and the US-allied right-wing Colombian government been making progress this past week.

After more than six months of discussions, the opposing factions have come to a decision regarding land reform, the first of six points they planned to address in Havana.

This first agenda item is one of the most contentious, and the root cause of much of the violence in Colombia, points out CPTnet, the news service of Christian Peacemaker Teams (http://www.cpt.org/)

The factions have not publicised the agreement in detail, but most believe it will include land restitution through the creation of a land bank where displaced farmers will receive the rights to their land previously seized by paramilitaries, drug traffickers, multinational corporations and guerilla groups.

“This is the first time in over thirty years of negotiations that significant progress has been made on the issue of land,” notes Camilo Gonzales Posso, the director for Centre for Peace in an interview with Al Jazeera, and “for the first time there is recognition of farmer’s rights and a plan to redistribute the land.”

But Colombians are wary of putting too much faith in the decisions made in Havana, since government-level actions rarely take effect in the ground-level struggle. While a recent article from the BBC bore the title, 'FARC agrees to Colombian Land Reform,' it would seem, reports CPTnet, that the government’s role is just as important if not even more essential in order for action to be taken on these reforms.

For example, the community of Las Pavas, in the south of Bolivar, has received much national attention over its long process for land restitution. But unfortunately the community still remains landless and threatened by a company that runs huge palm plantations, even though the National Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) has declared the land to be the property of the state and available for redistribution. The community also lacks proper protection because the palm company controls the regional police.

Moreover, the land reform agreement, which is a crucial step, will only have effect if the parties involved can agree on the remaining five points: political participation, disarmament, illicit drugs, rights of the victims, and a peace deal implementation.

* Colombia, the history of peace negotiations - a CPT briefing: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18544

* More on Christian Peacemaker Teams: http://www.cpt.org/

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