Santos: peace negotiations continue, new accord possible in November

President Santos speaks to those gathered at a peace demonstration in Bogotá's Plaza Bolívar. (Photo by Presidencia de la República)
President Santos speaks to those gathered at a peace demonstration in Bogotá's Plaza Bolívar. (Photo by Presidencia de la República)

On Friday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos released a statement updating the public on progress regarding a struggling peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

Santos was forced back to the drawing table in many regards after Colombians voted down the 297-page peace agreement in a plebiscite vote earlier this month.

“We met on Tuesday with Dr. Marta Lucía Ramírez and Dr. Camilo Gómez and a team of government negotiators to follow up on their proposals and give them an update on the progress of the process,” said Santos.

Both Ramírez and Gómez were prominent figures in the campaign to vote “no” in the plebiscite.

“The dialogue has also continued with the courts, the Catholic church, Christian pastors who promoted the ‘no’ vote and the Federation of Victims of the FARC.”

Santos also mentioned that negotiations with leaders of the Centro Democrático party, the primary proponents of the “no” vote, are continuing.

Chief negotiator Humberto De la Calle and head of the High Commission for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, are also expected to return to Colombia from Havana in order to provide updates on progress and attend meetings with key figures.

In an interview with the Efe press agency, Santos said that he hoped to have a new version of the peace accords ready sometime in November, and raised the possibility of a second plebiscite to approve the new text.

Chief negotiator De la Calle suggested that various suggestions from the “no” camp had already been included in the agreement through ongoing talks in Havana, where the initial peace negotiations have been underway for more than four years now.

“We have reviewed proposals for adjustments placed before the negotiating table,” said De la Calle. “The proposals are being discussed with caution and many of them are currently being incorporated into the text of a new accord.”

Since the Oct. 2 plebiscite, the government and the FARC have maintained a bilateral ceasefire, but Santos has pressed for a speedy resolution to the peace process in order to maintain the truce.

“Time is of the essence, because the ceasefire that we have agreed upon is fragile,” said Santos. “The people are right. We need a new accord now!”


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