Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín remarked Monday that Colombians could expect some kind of announcement from Havana on March 23 regarding closure to the peace negotiations and the final agreement reached between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
On Wednesday, however, President Juan Manuel Santos threw into question the official deadline for signing the peace with FARC stating that “in a rush to meet this date, I will not sign a bad accord.”
Santos’ negotiating team and Colombia’s 12,000-strong guerrilla group, FARC, have been negotiating for four years the end to a 50-year long civil conflict from Cuba, and a deadline to the talks arrives March 23.
The President did express his confidence that a deal would be reached, even though March 23 seems a little too close for comfort. “Hopefully we can sign, as the negotiators are now in their final stretch.”
FARC senior negotiators in Havana stated that there has been “substantial progress” in building an agreement for a bilateral ceasefire, but did not specify whether this could happen before the encroaching deadline this month.
The original date had been sealed with an historic handshake on September 23, 2015, between President Santos, the FARC’s maximum commander alias ‘Timochenko’ and Cuba’s Raúl Castro.
Even though the final week of March may not consolidate the much-anticipated peace nor seal the signatures of both negotiating teams on a final document, Santos did reinforce the Foreign Minister’s announcement, that on March 23 there would be important news from Havana.
And it will most likely involve the verification by the United Nations of a bilateral ceasefire and the process by which FARC begins to disarm.