in

Colombia’s Santos says support of Venezuela, Cuba key to peace talks

(Reuters) – The support of Venezuela and Cuba will play a key role in Colombia’s efforts to reach a negotiated end to Latin America’s last major guerilla war, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday.

 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaks at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts September 25, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaks at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts September 25, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Santos, who 10 months ago launched a round of talks with the left-wing FARC rebels, said he believed talks in Havana could bring an end to a 50-year conflict that has taken the lives of more than 220,000 people, mostly civilians.

“Venezuela and Cuba are helping us, they are saying, ‘Get rid of warfare; today it’s an anachronism,'” Santos told an academic audience at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside Boston. “They know that through armed struggle they will not achieve anything. They will not achieve power.”

Even if the talks, due to resume on October 3, succeed, Colombia will face challenges in re-integrating members of the resistance into mainstream society, rather than allowing people accustomed to violence to slide into lives of crime, Santos said.

“You have to stimulate the businessmen to accept the people who were in arms as a normal person, part of society … This is a big challenge,” said Santos, a 1981 graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Eradicating the illegal cocaine trade could help towards that end, Santos said, adding that ending the war could help to stimulate investment in Latin America’s fifth-largest economy.

“More investment and effective social investment, more equality, more social justice, that’s a way of building peace,” said Santos, 62, whose great-uncle Eduardo Santos once held the office he now occupies. “I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement and that my kids and my grandkids will see a country and enjoy a country in peace. I have not been able to enjoy one day of peace.”

Early in his administration, which began in 2010, Santos oversaw a major offensive against FARC groups that he said changed the balance of power and convinced the insurgency’s leaders to participate in negotiations.

Colombia’s government has said any peace deal would be subject to a popular referendum, and to allow the leaders of the FARC group to face criminal prosecution.

The FARC has repeatedly said it will reject any settlement deal that means prison time for its leaders.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Today Colombia than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our site as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Updating reports on Today Colombia takes a lot of time, money and hard work. But we do it because we believe our reports matter.
If everyone who reads Today Colombia, who likes it, helps to support it by clicking our ads, our future would be much more secure. Do you part, click on an ad today.

Written by Rico

Rico

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of onlinemagazines that includes TodayColombia.com. Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!