News / Americas

Colombia's Santos Urges Rebels to Get on 'Peace Train'

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, seen here in Puerto Ayacucho July 22, 2013, is in talks to end five decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, seen here in Puerto Ayacucho July 22, 2013, is in talks to end five decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Reuters
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the time for peace with Marxist FARC rebels is now or never but the instant he determines negotiations are going nowhere or strengthening the rebels, he would abandon the talks and seek resolution to the conflict on the battlefield.
 
Santos told local media on Monday that talks to bring an end to five decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are going well but should speed up.
 
The center-right Santos has bet his legacy on resolving the war, which has killed more than 200,000 people since the early 1960s, and bringing peace to Colombia.
 
Santos is in the final year of his first term in office and has hinted he will run for a second term next year. He has until November to say if he will seek re-election.
 
“I am still optimistic,” Santos said of the talks under way in Cuba. “If I see that they have no future, that there is no will on the other side, that this is going nowhere, that same day I will dismantle the negotiating table and talks will end.”
 
Discussions with the FARC began late last year but have been slow and Colombians are beginning to lose patience. In a recent survey in the weekly magazine Semana, some 43 percent of those polled in July said they were optimistic peace could be achieved, down from 45 percent in April.
 
The two sides are working through a five-point agenda and so far have only agreed partially on agrarian reform. Negotiators now are discussing the FARC's inclusion into the political system and then will move on to reparations to its victims, the drug trade and an end to the conflict.
 
The talks are seen as a litmus test for a possible peace process with Colombia's second biggest rebel group, the ELN, or National Liberation Army. Santos has said talks with the ELN would begin immediately if it frees all its captives, including a Canadian geologist seized six months ago.
 
The two rebel groups have been hit hard over the last decade as a U.S.-backed offensive stepped up attacks and intelligence gathering, pushing them deeper into inhospitable jungle and mountains.
 
But neither the FARC nor the ELN are beaten and still are able to launch heavy attacks on military and civilian targets as well as hit at infrastructure like the oil and mining industries, key to the nation's economic growth.
 
Still, Santos reckons the FARC, which began as an agrarian struggle against unfair land distribution, is tied to the peace process as its only real option.
 
“The guerrillas have no alternative, If they don't take the peace train now, they will miss it forever,” Santos told Caracol Radio. “A peace process in several years would be very difficult because among other things the rebels are getting old.”
 
“Leading and maintaining control of the rebels after 50 years is not easy ... This is the time, it's now or never,” he added.
 
The ELN and the FARC, both considered terrorist groups by the United States and the European Union, have battled a dozen successive Colombian governments since they were founded in 1964.
 
The ELN was inspired by the Cuban revolution and established by radical Catholic priests.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Head of Mexican Cartel Appears in US Court

Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez was arrested by US federal agents while shopping in Texas
More

Egypt Sets Appeal Date for Al Jazeera Journalists

Journalists were convicted in July on charges of aiding terrorist organization in verdict condemned internationally
More

Canadian Soldier Dies in Car Attack Linked to Radical Islam

Police shoot and kill driver - suspected Islamic radical - after he rammed into two soldiers Monday in parking lot in Quebec province
More

UN Rights Chief Urges Venezuela to Free Opposition Leader

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein calls for release of Leopoldo Lopez and scores of others detained in a crackdown on protests that began in February
More

Brazil's Lula Back Campaigning for Rousseff - and Maybe Himself

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva remains the one true rock star of Brazilian politics, introduced to adoring crowd of thousands over weekend as 'our eternal president'
More

Former Chilean Mayor Arrested for Pinochet-era Human Rights Crimes

Cristian Labbe, a retired colonel who later served as mayor of Providencia, is a subject of probe into rights violations, a government spokesman said
More