Colombia: peace talks announced with rappin' FARC
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced Sept. 4 that his government and the FARC guerrilla organization have signed an agreement to start peace negotiations. In a televised speech, Santos said the talks will consist of three phases. In phase one, which has been concluded, "we defined a closed agenda, rules and procedures to move forward," Santos said. The second phase, to begin now, "will be a discussion, without interruptions and without intermediaries, about agreed points to reach the final agreement." The third, post-conflict phase will consist of "the simultaneous implementation of all agreements, with the appropriate safeguards, verification mechanisms and citizen participation." Five points for the talks have been outlined: rural development, guarantees for political participation, an immediate end of the armed conflict, drug trafficking, and victims' rights. Santos said these points "constitute an integral formula for the effective termination of the conflict and to advance the construction of a stable and lasting peace."
According to Santos, delegations of the government and the FARC will travel to the Norwegian capital of Oslo in October to begin the formal talks. Later talks will be held in the Cuban capital of Havana, where preliminary meetings to establish a framework for the formal talks had been held in secret over the past months. Santos thanked the governments of both nations for their assistance in the process. Santos drew a distinction between the new effort and the last rounds of talks—which included the ceding of a "demilitarized zone" to the FARC between 1999 and 2002 when the talks broke down. "The deal is different because it contains no demilitarized zones and because there is no cessation of military operations," Santos said. (Colombia Reports, Sept. 4)
The FARC had has released its own YouTube video announcing the peace process. The video opens with rebel commander Rodrigo Londono AKA "Timochenko" saying the guerilla army is ready "to come to the negotiating table without grudges or arrogance." After Timochenko's brief introduction, a group of young guerilla fighters deliver a rap number to guitar and bongo accompaniment about travelling to Cuba for the start of peace talks. The unarmed fighters, wearing khaki uniforms and Che Guevara t-shirts, mock President Santos, who is referred to as a "conceited chucky-doll" (an apparent reference to the horror movie Child's Play). They claim he had to ask Cuba's Fidel Castro for help in order to reach an agreement with the rebels. (CBS WorldWatch Blog, Sept. 4)