Statement by President Raul Castro Ruz in Peace Talks

Statement by President of the Council of States and Ministers of the Republic Of Cuba, Raúl Castro Ruz in the ceremony at the peace talks between the government of Colombia and FARC-EP on the occasion of the announcement of the cease fire and the bilateral and definitive end of hostilities, laying down of weapons and guarantees of security. Havana, June 23, 2016.

H.E. Mr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, President of the Republic of Colombia;

Commander Timoleón Jiménez, Chief of Staff of the FARC-EP;

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General;

Esteemed Borge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, a guarantor country at the talks table;

Esteemed Michel Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile, an accompanying country at the talks table;

Esteemed Nicolás Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, an accompanying country at the talks table;

Esteemed Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic and President pro Tempore of CELAC;

Esteemed Salvador Sánchez, President of the Republic of El Salvador;

Esteemed Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico;

Distinguished participants and guests:

On November 19, 2012, the Table Talks between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army started to work in Havana.

In those days, there were quite a few who predicted a failure, as had previously occurred in Colombia in former peace processes. However, the transcendental agreements that the Peace Talks Table has announced today places us closer than ever before to the end of the armed conflict that has been suffered for more than five by the brother people of Colombia.

The decision of the Parties to sign today the agreements on the cease fire and the end of bilateral hostilities, the laying down of weapons and security guarantees is a decisive step forward. The peace process has reached a point of no return.

Pace will be a victory for the entire Colombia, but also a victory for all of Our America. The short history of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) recorded a major landmark, which was the proclamation of this region as a Zone of Peace. The end of the armed conflict in Colombia will be a new evidence of the rock-solid commitment of our peoples against the use and the threat of use of force and in favor of the peaceful settlement of controversies. In the face of differences, dialogue is of the essence. In the face of challenges concerted actions should prevail.

The achievement of peace in Colombia will also represent a hope for millions of persons in the planet, whose main concern continues to be the human survival in a world shaken by violence and wars.

Peace is not a utopia; it is a legitimate right of every human being and of all peoples. It is a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of all human rights, particularly the supreme right to life.

Esteemed participants and guests:

The commitment of the Cuban people and government with peace in Colombia has been and will be permanent, and we will remain faithful to Martí’s legacy: “Homeland is Humanity.”

Cuba, in its condition as guarantor and host of these talks, will continue to offer all necessary facilities and contribute to the extent of its possibilities to the end of the conflict, with modesty, discretion and a profound respect for the positions of both Parties.

I would like to conclude by congratulating the government of Colombia and FARC-EP. Both Parties have worked tirelessly in a serious and committed way, to achieve the crucial progress announced today.

There are still important and difficult questions which remain pending at the Peace Talks Table, but we feel optimistic. We are more convinced than ever that Peace will be the future of Colombia.

Thank you, very much.

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Historical Agreement between Colombian Government and FARC-EP

Colombian congressman Ivan Cepeda regarded Wednesday the agreement on the bilateral cease of fire between the Colombian government and the rebel forces of the Colombia Armed Revolutionary Forces-People''s Army (FARC-EP).

"This is a trascendental decision to end up with a part of the old conflict in Colombia, the only in the western hemisphere, and it remains to initiate conversations with the ELN", Cepeda commented to Prensa Latina.

This Wednesday governmental spokesmen and of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) informed to the public opinion that they reached an agreement to silence all the guns and begin the laydown of weapons or disarmament of these insurgent groups.

The joint communique spread in the Cuban capital adds that both delegations managed to conciliate positions also on the safety guarantees for now fighting during the stage of demobilization and reinstatement to the civil life, as well as concerning the clash to criminal organizations.

"It is the moment to begin a new way and remembering a phrase of writer Gabriel García Márquez he said: also it is a time of the second opportunity on the ground for Colombia," the legislator emphasized for the Alternative Democratic Pole, major national left convergence.

The senator, one of the promoters of the conversations with the rebellion, underlined that such a result is a fruit of the efforts not only of the Government and of this rebel movement, but of many sectors of the society, sympathizers with the peace process, as well as of the support of the international community.

After being grateful for the world solidarity, Cepeda emphasized the contribution of Cuba and Norway, guarantors of the dialogues, and of Chile and Venezuela, accompanists of the same ones.

Since 2012 representatives of the Colombian Executive and of the FARC-EP converse in Cuba to find a compound solution in the long conflagration; in the course of these years they achieved consensuses, also, in the topics of integral rural reform, political participation, combat against the illicit traffic of drugs and victims.

It remains now to close subpoints dependent on previous sections and elucidate the related thing to the implementation, cross-check and refrendación of the agreed thing, the sixth topic of the agenda.

To install the table of formal meetings with the National Liberation Army (ELN), also involved in the contest, is another of the steps to execute to conquer a finished peace, thinks Cepeda.

The complete content of the recent agreements will be revealed tomorrow in an event in Havana, at which there will be the presence of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, several of his Latin-American counterparts and personalities as the Secretary-General of United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

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Colombia-FARC Peace Talks Just Days Away from Cease-fire Deal

After more than three years of negotiations with the Colombian government, FARC rebels are hopeful that a final bilateral cease-fire deal will be sealed in the “coming days” after making crucial progress in the peace talks in Havana, Cuba, leaders announced Sunday. 

“We have had important advances,” said FARC commander Carlos Antonio Lozada in a press conference on Sunday. “We are working with respect to the cease-fire and specifically on the characteristic of the encampment areas.”

The question of the terms of the bilateral cease-fire has been a key issue on the agenda in the final stages of the negotiations and a key piece of the puzzle to put in place in order to make way for a definitive end to 50 years of internal armed conflict.

Lozada also stressed that the issue of the FARC disarmament, another outstanding item on the peace agenda, will require commitments from both sides of the negotiating table.

“It must be a bilateral agreement in which both the state and the FARC take on commitments in the area of laying down of arms, understanding that at no point are we proposing that the state should disarm,” the commander added.

The statements come after FARC leader Timochenko penned an open letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reaffirming the group's desire to disarm and achieve peace, in response to recent misleading statements in the media.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has repeatedly argued that putting an end to paramilitary activity in the country is key to safeguarding a lasting peace deal and offering guarantees to FARC rebels in their process of disarming and reintegrating into society. But as the peace deal nears, paramilitary violence has seen a sharp resurgence in recent months.

The rebel commander also reiterated the group’s demand that jailed FARC leader Simon Trinidad, serving a 60 year sentence in a super maximum-security prison in Colorado, be released in the name of “reuning all Colombians that one way or another have been involved in the conflict” through the signing of the peace deal.

FARC and government negotiators missed the self-imposed deadline to finalize a peace agreement by March 23, but both sides of the conflict have expressed confidence that ending the conflict is just around the corner.

Colombian Government and the FARC-EP to Continue Peace Talks in Havana

On Wednesday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, resumed peace talks in Havana.

In the context of surging paramilitarism in Colombia, the new round will pursue new routes in discussing the remaining topics on the agenda.

Recent events, like the “armed strike” promoted by the Usuga clan, the slain of left-wing leaders, and denounces of the proliferation of paramilitarism, add tension to the ongoing peace negotiations.

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FARC-EP Deny Crisis in Peace Talks in Havana

The rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People''s Army (FARC-EP) denied today the suspension of peace talks that are being held in Havana since 2012 with the government of Juan Manuel Santos.

   Colombia: Right-Wing Plan to Sabotage Peace Accord Condemned

During a press conference in Palacio de las Convenciones in Havana, the guerrilla spokesman Carlos Antonio Lozada confirmed that the talks were not interrupted as recently reported Colombian media.

These newspapers based their information on an alleged statement written by FARC-EP leader, Timoleon Jimenez, who expresses concern about the lack of progress on the issue of the concentration zones (where the FARC-EP will demobilize in the event of a peace deal).

It was an internal circular issued by the commander in chief of the FARC-EP regarding the situation arising from the presentation of a document by the government delegation, which practically rejects the progress achieved in this issue concerning the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities, Lozada explained.

He also acknowledged that, given the situation, the discussions on that issue in the technical subcommittee have been affected, but never stopped.

He condemned that the government delegation has tried to impose their vision, and insisted that the agreements must have bilateral nature.

He also pointed out that it is not a question of negotiating an unconditional surrender of the insurgency, but to reach a consensus in a peace process.

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Poll Reveals Increase in Support for Peace Process in Colombia

A poll conducted for Semana magazine found support growing inside Colombia for the ongoing peace process between the leftist rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government after the head of the guerrilla group, Timoleon Jimenez, and President Juan Manuel Santos signed an important agreement regarding transitional justice.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Napoleon Franco, found that 46 percent of respondents now felt optimistic about the peace talks, a dramatic increase over results in July that found only 29 percent felt optimistic.

Respondents who felt negatively about the peace talks still outpaced the optimists, however, with 52 percent feeling pessimistic, a drop from 69 percent in July.

The poll also found that 55 percent of the respondents felt that the whole country would win if a final deal was signed. About 28 percent thought the FARC would win, 8 percent said the government, and 9 percent said no one.

The approval ratings of President Santos had been steadily dropping over the last year but shot up to 47 percent with the news that the government was close to reaching a final deal with the FARC.

The poll served to reveal that his approval rating is closely linked with the progress of the peace negotiations. Santos was re-elected president in 2014 largely on the basis that he would secure a peace deal.

Both parties agreed to have a deal signed by late March 2016, though 58 percent felt that the deadline would not be met.

News of the historic meeting between FARC Commander Jimenez, better known as Timochenko, and President Santos reached 8 out of 10 Colombians, with 55 percent viewing the meeting as positive.

Nonetheless, there is still a lot of progress to be made in winning public support for a final deal. Despite the prevailing optimism at the negotiating table, 65 percent of respondents believe the talks could still be interrupted.

The FARC also have their work cut out for themselves as 67 percent believe they will not honor a final deal. Timochenko received a slight bump in public perception with 9 percent holding a favorable opinion of the rebel leader.

In a sign that the FARC is committed to peace, Timochenko tweeted last Wednesday that FARC combatants would no longer undergo combat training and would instead focus on political and cultural education.

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Pope Francis thanks Cuba for role in Colombian peace process

Pope Francis thanked Cuba for its contribution as a mediator in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the guerrilla FARC-EP, during the Mass he officiated this Sunday at the Havana´s Revolution Square.

His Holiness said it was his duty to direct his thoughts towards Colombia, since the South American country is living a moment of paramount importance, when Colombians are trying to live in peace after decades of armed conflict.

Francis said he trusts there is a solution to what he defined as a long night of pain and violence in Colombia.

He prayed for justice to be present in this process, along fraternity and honor, for peace to be lasting in Colombia, and thanked President Juan Manuel Santos for his support to the talks.

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Farc guerrillas hope to meet Pope Francis in Cuba

Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for Farc, rrives for a new round of peace talks with Colombia's government accompanied by fellow Farc delegates Pastor Alape, right, and Carlos Antonio Lozada, centre

Colombia's largest guerrilla movement wants the Church to name a permanent delegate to their peace negotiations with the government

Representatives of Colombia’s largest guerrilla movement have asked to meet Pope Francis in Cuba in September and have requested the Catholic Church name a permanent delegate to their peace negotiations with the government.

Ivan Marquez, representing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the Spanish acronym Farc, at the peace talks, told reporters on August 17, “We want to give a heartfelt greeting to Pope Francis. We hope to have this opportunity.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Cuba on September 19-22.

The guerrillas, who have been in conflict with the Colombian government for five decades, “want to move the peace process forward, particularly with the support of the Catholic world,” Marquez said. “The Church can offer all its experience to help reach a final agreement.”

Farc and the Colombian government began the peace talks in Cuba in late 2012, hoping to find a way to end the conflict, which has claimed some 220,000 lives.

After a meeting on August 17 in Havana with the president of the Colombian bishops’ conference, Marquez tweeted: “We are optimistic. We are promoting bilateral cease-fire and righteousness. (The) Church has renewed its commitment to peace in Colombia.”

Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga of Tunja, president of the Colombian bishops’ conference, told reporters after his meeting with the Farc delegates that a final decision on a papal meeting in Cuba was up to the Pope, the Vatican and the Pope’s Cuban hosts.

Pope Francis, he said, has been following news of the peace talks, but would probably be interested in talking directly to those involved.

The Pope has said he would like to help promote peace, the archbishop said. The idea of the Pope naming a delegate to the talks could be one way to do that.

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