Colombia, Farc reach land reform deal

2013-05-27 08:11
Farc commanders Rodrigo Granda (L) and Jesus Santrich (C) and member Tanja Neijmeier (R) arrive at Convention Palace in Havana. (Adalberto Roque, AFP)

Farc commanders Rodrigo Granda (L) and Jesus Santrich (C) and member Tanja Neijmeier (R) arrive at Convention Palace in Havana. (Adalberto Roque, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Havana - Colombia and leftist Farc rebels said on Sunday they have reached a deal on land reform, one of the most contentious items in negotiations aimed at ending five decades of insurgency.

The agreement between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia would compensate those who have lost land or were displaced from their property, said Cuban diplomat Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, whose country played host to the months-long negotiations.

So far, the talks at the Havana Convention Centre have focused almost entirely on land reform - the first of five agenda items to be discussed.

Land distribution was one of the triggers of the protracted conflict in Colombia, where gaping inequality divides wealthy landowners and poor peasants.

The agreement on agrarian development "seeks to reverse the effects of the conflict and that the victims of forced displacement and looting obtain restitution," said Fernandez de Cossio, as he read a joint statement from the parties.

The step, the first major advance in six months of peace talks in Havana, was widely celebrated - but it is part of a larger package still being bargained.

‘Radical transformation’

The joint statement warns that the advance on agrarian reform is "conditioned on reaching an agreement on the totality of the agenda", because the talks are based on the principle that "nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon".

Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle, a former vice president, said in a statement to AFP that what the negotiators agreed upon "pertaining to the agricultural issue allows for a radical transformation of life in rural Colombia".

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gushed about the success in a message on his Twitter account.

"We sincerely celebrate this fundamental step in Havana towards a full agreement to put an end to half a century of conflict," Santos wrote.

"We will continue the peace process with prudence and responsibility."

The leftist leader of neighbouring Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, quickly congratulated the Santos administration and the rebel negotiators on the advances.

"It fills us with joy," he said during a visit to Bolivia.

Longest-running insurgency

Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, was friendly toward the Farc and supported the peace process.

In a Twitter message, Ecuador's foreign minister also congratulated both sides.

Both delegations will take a break of several days, and then begin talks on political participation, the second agenda point.

They are set to also discuss illicit drugs, decommissioning weapons and how to handle victims of the armed conflict.

The Farc, Colombia's largest guerrilla group with some 8 000 fighters, has been in talks with Bogota since 19 November to end their nearly 50-year-old insurgency, the longest-running in Latin America.

One of the rebel negotiators, Pablo Catatumbo, told the influential magazine Semana that Santos should be re-elected in the May 2014 presidential vote to guarantee that the peace process is fulfilled. The Farc rebels had earlier said they did not support the president's re-election.

Santos, aged 61, has been coy about his re-election plans. He does not need to decide until November.

Before becoming president in 2010, Santos was defence minister in the hard-line administration of his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. In that post, he cracked down on the Farc and hunted down several rebel leaders.

Uribe, who remains popular, supported Santos's candidacy when he ran for office - but the ex-president strongly opposes peace talks with the Farc, and now openly shows dissent with the president.

Santos took an enormous political risk in engaging the Farc in peace talks, but if the talks succeed he could easily win re-election, analysts say.

Read more on:    farc  |  hugo chavez  |  nicolas maduro  |  colombia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.