Colombia: Peace at Last? (AUDIO) | Huffington Post
By Kimberly Abbott, Communications Director for North America at the International Crisis Group
Peace negotiations began this week between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as FARC), a guerrilla group that has waged a half-century long offensive against the government. The talks in Oslo, Norway are being billed as Colombia’s best chance for peace in decades.
Indeed, a number of developments on the ground give this round of negotiations a shot at real success. To start, the government of President Santos (and President Uribe before him) has crippled the FARC militarily — killing several of its leaders, pushing them out of urban areas, and damaging the group’s ability to communicate. In addition, Santos has begun to respond to many of the underlying grievances that have fueled the FARC insurgency by instituting political reforms in areas such as land restitution and victims’ rights. These moves have shown a willingness to compromise that make the FARC’s case that war is the only option far less compelling.
This has created new incentives for the FARC, too, to come to the negotiating table. The government’s campaign has heavily damaged their military structure and capacity and made it ever clearer that change will not come about through military means. There is also an awareness that over the years FARC’s political ideology has grown more and more distant from reality.