Colombian government and Marxist-inspired-drugs-funded FARC rebels resumed peace negotiations in Havana on Sunday after a recess of more than two weeks, during which 19 soldiers and a number of rebels were killed and rural protests left four farmers dead and several police injured.
More than 200,000 people have died and millions have been displaced in fighting since the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was founded in 1964 as a communist agrarian reform movement which later turned into criminal activities and close partners of the country’s drug lords.
The talks, which began in November, recess every few weeks, then resume, even as the longest, and last, armed conflict in Latin America rages on.
Many Colombians do not understand why we are in a dialogue when attacks by armed groups continue, Colombian former vice president and lead government negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said before the new round of talks began.
Patience with the FARC, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has deteriorated in recent weeks after an escalation of violence that culminated last weekend in the death of 19 soldiers and the announcement that the guerrillas had kidnapped US citizen Kevin Scott Sutay in June and now wanted to free him.
Fifteen of the soldiers were ambushed by the FARC as they protected an oil pipeline under construction and four others were attacked in the south of the country
Reading from a prepared statement, de la Calle said the government of President Juan Manuel Santos had announced when they began in November that there would be no ceasefire until an agreement was reached.
These conversations, as President Santos pointed out this week, are taking place in the middle of conflict. There is no ceasefire, he said.
In May, after six months of negotiations facilitated by Cuba and Norway, the two sides reached an historic agreement on agricultural reform that calls for developing rural areas and providing land to the people living there.