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FARC: from carbines to Congress?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A non-violent future including the Revolutionary Armed Force (FARC in the Spanish initials) is possible, according to an interview last week in Spain’s El Pais with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"They can follow their ideals. Nobody is forcing them to change their way of thinking, only to fight for their goals without arms or violence, instead using democratic means”, said Santos.

Some people would object to the idea of letting ex guerillas occupy seats in Congress – “but if we present the arrangement as the price of peace, Colombians will support it”, the president added.

Creating an opportunity for the political participation of the FARC, along with the eradication of drug trafficking, are among the main points included in the peace negotiations between the two sides, which started in 2012 in Havana, Cuba.

Although the number of armed attacks has decreased in recent years, there were two major clashes in 2013 between guerillas and government forces, which took a total of close to 30 lives.

The Santos administration seeks to end a half a century of violent clashes, kidnappings and terrorism.

The peace process is expected to conclude this year, but not before presidential elections next May.

Santos is running for re election, on a record consisting partly of economic recovery, and partly of expectations of an end to the civil war.

Colombia’s economy has for the most part outperformed that of the rest of Latin America during the past four years.

As far as the FARC negotiations are concerned, an agreement would be subject to a national referendum, before final approval.