Humberto de la Calle (Photo: President's Office)

Delegates from both Colombian Government and rebel group FARC indicated Thursday that they are close to an agreement on the guerrillas’ abandoning of drug trafficking. 

The two groups released individual statements as to their thoughts on the most recent round of peace talks as well as a joint statement to mark the end of the 20th round of talks.

The government delegation leader at the talks, Humberto de la Calle, stated that “we are beginning to agree on the solution of the problem of illegal drugs” which marks a huge step forward.

De La Calle continued saying that the warring parties are close to finding a solution with this latest report being the “the essence of what has been decided.”

The FARC also said the delegations “have begun to construct agreements” on what to do with Colombia’s illicit crops in the event a peace deal is reached and the FARC will abandon one of its most profitable sources of income.

Tanja Nijmijer, a member of the rebel delegation in Cuba, clarified to Colombia Reports that agreement has been reached on two out of three points and that the delegations are focusing mainly on illicit crop substitution.

According to the FARC, new measures agreed on at the peace talks “shouldn’t insist on punitive action against the weakest links of the chain (farmers and consumers)” and that “the solution [should be] voluntary, agreed and gradual substitution, accompanied by promising alternative plans.”

The FARC said that “the people will not allow anyone to persist in the illegal uses of coca, poppy and marijuana, having other options to achieve better living conditions” which could potentially be the justification the government needed in order to be able to resolve this ongoing issue.

Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group has been in peace talks with the government as to what should be done for those who grow illicit crops such as opium, marijuana and and coca. The FARC have proposed that such crops have other, legal, uses and that the farmers who grow them should not have to lose out on their livelihoods.

MORE: FARC peace proposal aims to protect coca, poppy, and marijuana growers

The joint statement explained the need for “comprehensive agricultural reform” in order for any proposal made to be viable and sustainable and the need to ”involve the communities themselves” in the decision making process. This is then further developed as the diversity of the areas in question will require a “different [and area specific] focus, reflected in the plans we make with the communities themselves who know the needs, characteristics and economic, cultural and social specifications of the region.”

The crux of the joint statement is the need for fortification of existing institutions in the affected areas and the use of such frameworks to promote a more comprehensive development. Through using a pre-existing basis there will be an awareness of the “rights of the citizens, guarantees of security and easy cohabitation as well as the observation and protection of their basic human rights.”

Such concepts such as the need to build on existing infrastructures marks an agreement in ideas between the Colombian Government and the FARC who believe that the focus should not be on ”repression and prohibition, which have exacerbated the problem” but on finding “substitution programs.”

The next round of talks will begin on February 24.


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