After nearly three years of peace talks in Havana, Colombia is about to take another step towards the political solution of the political, military and social conflict it has endured for over half a century.
President Juan Manuel Santos made a stopover in Havana to meet with the negotiating team and accelerate the peace process.
“Peace is close,” the president tweeted.
Meanwhile, the delegation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) released pictures of the arrival in Havana of guerrilla leader Timoleón Jiménez.
Colombian media reported on the impending meeting between Santos and Jiménez, which would provide a decisive boost to the peace process which has seen negotiations in Havana since November 19, 2012.
According to these sources, the reason for the visit is the signing of the preliminary agreement which has been reached on one of the themes related to the issue of victims.
The comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition agreed at the negotiating table is a historic step toward guaranteeing the rights of victims, ending the conflict and achieving peace after more than 50 years of conflict, with hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced.
The parties had already announced a four-month period, beginning on July 12, within which to reach concrete results.
Of the issues on the agenda in Havana, preliminary agreements have already been reached in regards to rural development, illicit drugs and political participation. Once the issue of the victims is resolved, the implementation, verification and formal endorsement of the agreement will remain, in order to put an end to the conflict itself.
This will be the first direct meeting between the two leaders, however similarly meetings at this level have previously taken place. The negotiations between the FARC-EP and the government of Andrés Pastrana (1999-2002) in the demilitarized zone of El Caguán, saw guerrilla leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez meet with the then president.
The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Ernesto Samper, welcomed the agreement on justice and victims, about to be signed in Havana between the guerrilla organization and the Colombian government.
I welcome this historic step in Havana to define the application of Transitional Justice which will allow us to move from conflict to post-conflict, Samper tweeted, referring to the news circulated in the past few hours.
Meanwhile, lawyer and former Congresswoman Piedad Córdoba congratulated the “government and the FARC-EP for the imminent signing of the item on justice and victims.”
The campaginer for human rights called on citizens to support the talks in Havana on social media through the hashtag #LaPazEstáCerca (Peace is Close).
“Today, peace in Colombia is an irreversible fact. Peace is close, it’s coming and we will achieve it peacefully, today more than ever we will support this hope,” she insisted via Twitter.
Colombian SenatorIván Cepeda, who traveled with President Santos stated: “Today is a historic day for Colombia. The recognition of our efforts for peace.”
“We are close to a final agreement, long live Colombia, long live peace,” he added.