Enrique Santiago, lawyer for the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, told Semana magazine that there were “very little few” sensivte issues to negotiate, such as paramilitarism in the country, and that final peace deal between the rebels and the government was “very close.”
Santiago acknowledged there were a number of sensitive issues left to discuss but he nonetheless expressed great optimism that by end of year there would be a “situation of absolute normalization of political life in Colombia,” published on Sunday by the Colombian magazine.
Both the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the rebel FARC movement see a peace deal as the means of finally removing the use of violence from politics.
“We still must agree to a deal regarding paramilitarism … it is well advanced, and security guarantees for the political forces in Colombia, social movements and the FARC once they have become a political force,” said Santiago.
He highlighted the case of Imelda Daza, a member of Colombia’s leftist Patriotic Union party, who recently escaped an assassination attempt, as an example of the kinds of threats that still exist for leftists in the country.
Santiago added that a deal regarding a bilateral cease-fire and the reincorporation of former FARC combatants into civilian life were also still pending.
He acknowledged there was lots of goodwill at the negotiating table but lamented the statements made by political actors inside Colombia, such as former president Alvaro Uribe, who continue to campaign against peace.
“Unfortunately, the government is being highly pressured by very bellicose discourse that still exists in some sectors of Colombian society, a discourse that does not want to renounce war;” Santiago told Semana.
Still, Santiago feels that at this point, nothing can stop a peace deal from being signed, which he expects will be approved both by the Congress and the Colombian people.
“Unquestionably when this is over, hopefully successfully, it will be a reference in peace processes around the world and that is another element that Colombian society should be very proud of, that stamp that the Colombian people will leave in International Law and that will facilitate the achievement of peace in other parts of the world,” concluded Santiago.