Peace talks restart between Colombia and guerrillas

BOGOTA, Colombia - The peace dialogues between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas recommences on Monday in Havana, Cuba. 

Now in its 25th round, negotiations will once again be addressing the topic of illegal drugs since no agreement was reached on this subject in the last round. This will be the last round of talks - which began in 2012 – before the presidential elections on May 25. 

“Peace is very close and this is a very real and unique opportunity in our history. But, for this to happen, I need your support and your vote on May 25, a vote for peace,” said President Juan Manuel Santos on the campaign trail in the department of Norte de Santander. 

The start of this new round of talks in Havana comes at a delicate time with revelations of wiretapping and hacking scandals levied against members of the Democratic Center party in an attempt to undermine the peace dialogues. The Democratic Center party, which is currently the main opposition to President Santos’ Social Party of National Unity, is led by presidential hopeful Oscar Zuluaga and backed by fierce opponent to the peace talks, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. 

Various members of the government’s negotiating team and Cuban journalists covering the peace dialogues are believed to have had their phones bugged and email accounts compromised by a hacker in the employ of the Democratic Center party, Andres Sepulveda, arrested last week in Bogota. 

The issue of illegal drugs is the third item on the six point agenda tabled and agreed to by the guerillas and the Colombian government in an attempt to bring an end to the long running civil conflict. According to Human Rights Watch the conflict in Colombia has, since 1958, created more than 5 million internally displaced people and caused an estimated 220,000 deaths.

The first two items on the agenda including, agrarian reform and political participation, have been negotiated successfully. 

This final round of peace dialogues is set to come to a close on May 22, three days prior to the presidential elections and is not according to the government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle, “designed to affect the outcome of the elections.”

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