Colombia president will not meet with FARC during Havana visit

Juan Manuel Santos (Photo: President's Office)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will not meet with the FARC delegation to ongoing peace talks in Havana during his visit to the Cuban capital, according

For the last 15 months, Havana has been hosting broad peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC, the country’s oldest rebel group.

Santos is scheduled to travel to Cuba to attend a regional summit that begins on the 25th of January, but will not, according to his office, meet with members of the FARC, despite his close proximity to the site of negotiations.

The decision is being interpreted by some in the Colombian media as a deliberate reaction to a deadly bombing Thursday in the city of Pradera, Cauca that left one police officer dead and injured dozens of citizens.

MORE: 1 killed, more than 30 injured in alleged FARC bombing in western Colombia

Santos joined other Colombian officials in condemning the attack — widely attributed to the FARC — which he called “an act of infinite stupidty.” Santos will have several days in Havana to sit down with the FARC if he decides to change his mind, but a reversal is seemingly unlikely, given the charged publicity surrounding the incident.

So far, the peace talks with the FARC have proved relatively stable. With no joint ceasefire in place, the parties have managed to weather pressure from continuing military conflict, as well as tension generated in the public debate surrounding the talks.

The latest attack, however, represents an escalated level of collateral violence that could lead to greater societal backlash against the FARC and the talks in general. The peace process is expected to be one of the key topics throughout the buildup to upcoming presidential elections, and eyes will continue to focus on President Santos for indications that the government’s commitment is wavering.


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