Peace Timeline 2013

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December 21, 2013

  • A Washington Post investigative report details how assistance from the United States, especially the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command, helped Colombia’s armed forces to target and kill several top FARC leaders, largely through the use of precision-guided munitions. A FARC statement calls Colombia’s army “a pawn in the CIA’s chess game.”

December 20, 2013

  • The 18th round of talks between the Colombian government and the FARC, focused on the drug policy agenda item, concludes in Havana. The parties are to meet again on January 13. A joint communiqué indicates that the negotiators heard the views of several drug-policy experts and civil society leaders.
  • “Peace is possible, let’s prepare for peace,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.

December 16, 2013

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators begin a brief 18th round of talks in Havana. The subject is the agenda point of “solutions to the problem of illicit drugs.” A FARC statement alleges that the government’s past drug policies have done more harm to poor communities than to the drug trade itself. “We’re not in Havana,” the communiqué adds, “negotiating a transition to turn in weapons in exchange for some votes.”
  • A report from Colombia’s Peace and Reconciliation Foundation think-tank finds no decrease in the frequency of FARC armed actions in 2013, and estimates the guerrilla group’s strength at 11,000 members, higher than the government estimate of 7,000–8,000.

December 15, 2013

  • The FARC begins its one-month unilateral cease-fire. Though the group largely complies with it, an attack in Anorí, Antioquia, attributed to the FARC’s 36th Front, injures five people on December 16.

December 12, 2013

  • President Santos tells a military audience to remain on the offensive until an accord is reached, “because if we let our guard down beforehand, these accords will be in danger.”

December 9, 2013

  • Colombia’s inspector general (procurador), Alejandro Ordóñez, orders the firing of Bogotá’s mayor, Gustavo Petro. The mayor, who demobilized from the M–19 guerrilla movement in a 1990 peace process and was elected in 2011, is banned from participating in politics for 15 years. Ordóñez, a deeply conservative official and a vocal critic of the FARC peace talks, cites Petro’s handling of an effort to de-privatize garbage collection. The firing has a cooling effect on the peace talks, as it casts doubt on former guerrillas’ ability to participate in politics. The FARC issues a statement supporting Petro and citing Ordóñez’s move as a justification for their abandonment of the peaceful political process.
  • Asked about Petro’s firing at his December 11 confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador-Designate Kevin Whitaker says, “Colombia is now committed to this important effort to figure out how to end the internal conflict. And it isn’t by accident that the second point of discussion is about political pluralism, about how to integrate individuals from the left in the democratic process. If these individuals come to the conclusion, based on this fact or any other, that this space does not exist, then the basic conditions for peace will in some ways erode.”
  • Whitaker also sounds a word of caution about the possibility that a peace accord might bring an end to the U.S.-backed use of aerially sprayed herbicides to eradicate illicit crops. “A matter which has come up with respect to counternarcotics is the FARC’s insistence–this is a public insistence, we don’t know what they’re saying at the table–but publicly, they’re insisting on the elimination of the aerial eradication program, which in our view would be a great mistake.”

December 8, 2013

  • A day after a bomb attack on a police station leaves 9 dead in Inzá, Cauca, the FARC announces that it will carry out a unilateral one-month cease-fire starting on December 15th. “We will continue with our offensive [against the Farc], [we will] not give them a minute’s rest,” says President Santos.
  • The 17th round of government-FARC talks concludes in Havana. The parties release a detailed “Second Joint Report from the Conversations Table,” providing a rather thorough overview of the contents of the second accord on the “Political Participation” agenda item. They also produce a joint report on their efforts to communicate with the public and encourage outside participation.

December 5, 2013

  • President Santos says he is more optimistic about the FARC talks than he was a year earlier.

December 4, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC renews its call for a truth commission to begin work while talks are still proceeding.

December 3, 2013

  • President Santos visits U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. President Obama says:

“I congratulated President Santos on his bold and brave efforts to bring about a lasting and just peace inside of Colombia in his negotiations with the FARC. Obviously, this has been a longstanding conflict within Colombia. It is not easy; there are many challenges ahead. But the fact that he has taken this step I think is right, because it sends a signal to the people of Colombia that it is possible to unleash the enormous potential if we can move beyond this conflict. But obviously, there are going to be some very challenging questions moving forward. I’m pleased to see the President’s strong commitment on that front. The United States is supportive of those efforts.”

  • “The security assistance package was always designed to be phased out over time based on how conditions were improving on the ground in Colombia,“ a ”senior administration official“ tells reporters. ”And in fact, conditions have been improving on the ground and so every year, year on year, the security assistance package is most likely going to be declining over time."

December 2, 2013

  • “I am still cautiously optimistic,” President Santos says of the FARC talks in a speech at the University of Miami. “I believe the conditions are in place.”

December 1, 2013

  • On the eve of President Santos’s visit to Washington, Colombia’s new ambassador to the United States, former peace negotiator Luis Carlos Villegas, says peace “will be an important point in the meeting” between Santos and President Obama, “and I hope that the support that has been made public will be reiterated with this visit.”

November 29, 2013

  • FARC and government negotiators issue a joint communique acknowledging receipt of proposals from the two September public forums on the “drug policy” agenda topic.

November 28, 2013

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators begin a 17th round of talks in Havana. “Solution to the problem of illicit drugs” is the topic on the agenda.
  • “We want a countryside without coca,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.

November 26, 2013

  • President Santos names two women to the government’s negotiating team in Havana. María Paulina Riveros, the director for human rights in the Interior Ministry, becomes one of the principal five (“plenipotentiary”) negotiators, the first woman to hold this post. She replaces business-sector representative Luis Carlos Villegas, who goes to Washington to serve as Colombia’s ambassador to the United States. Nigeria Rentería Lozano, the Colombian Presidency’s high commissioner for women’s equity, goes to Havana as the third woman to be named to the government’s team of alternate negotiators.
  • “I will not allow, and nobody will allow that there will be a situation in which there are some members of the military accused and condemned to 40 years [in prison] and the opposite side free and doing what it pleases. This is not going to happen,” President Santos says in a speech before the armed forces.
  • A “Colombia Opina” poll finds support for the FARC talks at 79 percent among the wealthiest Colombians, and at 60 percent among the poorest.

November 25, 2013

  • President Santos meets with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who says that “only psychopaths could try to boycott a historic deed” like Colombia’s peace process.

November 20, 2013

  • President Santos announces that he will seek re-election in May 2014. He cites the peace process as a key reason: “I’m doing it because when you see a light at the end of the tunnel, you don’t turn back.”

November 19, 2013

  • On the first anniversary of the official launch of peace talks with the FARC, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says, “We believe the opportunity to end the conflict is here and now.”

November 17, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators announce a 10-day postponement, to November 28, of the start of the next round of talks. A joint statement says that the two sides need extra time to “refine visions, exchange documents and analyze the various proposals received from different sectors of society.”

November 12, 2013

  • The FARC, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón announces, have a plan to assassinate ex-President Álvaro Uribe and Prosecutor-General Eduardo Montealegre. Pinzón bases his assertion on military intelligence sources. If carried out, “An attempt of this kind would destroy the viability of the peace process,” lead negotiator Humberto de la Calle says. The presidential candidate of Uribe’s party, Oscar Iván Zuluaga, calls for a suspension of peace talks. On November 18, President Santos appears to downplay the allegation, saying the intelligence upon which it is based is “old.” Chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez denies that such a plot exists.
  • Maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez issues a lengthy statement blaming the United States and Colombia’s elites for the country’s problems with drug production, insisting that the FARC only collects taxes from coca growers, and indicating that the guerrillas would be willing to consider drug legalization.
  • A Gallup poll finds 41.5 percent of Colombians in favor of maintaining negotiations during the upcoming presidential election campaign, 19.1 percent favoring a pause in talks during the campaign, and 33.9 percent calling for an end to the negotiations.

November 11, 2013

  • In a statement, the ELN says it “agrees with” the political participation agreement arrived at by the FARC and the government, but goes on to express doubt that Colombia’s ruling class will actually implement it.

November 10, 2013

  • “I think this time we will reach an agreement, and we will have peace,” President Santos tells the Washington Post. “We have never even been close to what we have already achieved…. We’re trying to give our enemies, in this case the FARC, a bridge to a dignified way out–lay down their arms and enter the political arena.” On the upcoming drug policy agenda item, Santos says of the FARC, “If they become our allies in order to destroy and eradicate these coca fields and destroy the corridors, can you imagine, not only for Colombia but for the whole world, what this means?”
  • Asked how the FARC plan to provide reparations to their victims, negotiator and Secretariat member Pablo Catatumbo tells El Espectador, “I don’t have the formula. This is an issue that we will take up at the negotiating table in due time. The only thing I want to say is that we are neither insensitive nor cynical about this.” Asked whether kidnappings were an error, he says, “I think prolonging them over time was an error.”
  • A Centro Nacional de Consultoría poll finds 64 percent of respondents in agreement with President Santos’s decision not to suspend peace talks during the 2014 election campaign. 34 percent disagree. 42 percent say that the second accord, on political participation, has given them more faith that the process might succeed; 53 percent say this accord had no impact on their expectations.

November 7, 2013

  • President Santos announces that he has no intention to suspend peace talks during the 2014 election campaign.
  • “To see the señores of terrorist groups like the FARC yesterday saying they believe in the way of practicing politics is nothing more than the victory of Colombia’s heroes, the military defeat of those organizations,” says Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón.
  • An Americas Barometer poll, taken in August and September, finds 53.7 percent of respondents, and 59.1 percent of respondents in conflict zones, supporting the peace talks with the FARC. 71 percent, and 65 percent in conflict zones, oppose allowing the FARC to form a political party.

November 6, 2013

  • Negotiators in Havana complete the 16th round of talks and announce agreement on the second agenda point, “Political Participation.” It includes several commitments under the sub-headings of (1) security guarantees for those who exercise peaceful political opposition, (2) measures to strengthen citizen participation and accountability over politicians, and (3) reforms to ease the formation and participation of new political movements and parties. The latter topic foresees a number of special legislative districts representing historically conflictive areas, in which ex-guerrilla candidates would be assumed to have some political base.
  • Statement from chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
  • Statement from President Juan Manuel Santos
  • Statement from FARC negotiators
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro congratulates President Santos.
  • Statement of support from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
  • Statement of U.S. Rep. Jim Mcgovern (D-Massachusetts)

November 5, 2013

  • Colombia’s Congress passes the “peace referendum” bill making it possible for Colombians to vote to ratify peace accords at the same time as they vote in another election. This would all but guarantee the voter participation necessary for a referendum to pass. The bill goes to Colombia’s Constitutional Court for review.

November 4, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators extend the 16th round of talks for a second time, as they endeavor to reach a long-awaited agreement on the “political participation” agenda item.

October 31, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators announce that, as they seek agreement on the second agenda point, “political participation,” they are extending the 16th round of talks in Havana, scheduled to end on November 2, until November 4.
  • White House Spokesman Jay Carney announces that President Obama will receive President Santos in Washington on December 3. “The visit will highlight our longstanding partnership with Colombia and our continuing support for the Santos administration’s efforts to achieve peace and to build a more democratic society,” Carney says.
  • Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón says that Colombia’s military, and its defense budget, should not be reduced if a peace accord is reached. “It would be a big mistake, because even if the terrorist organization disappears, it doesn’t mean many of its crimes disappear,” he tells Reuters.

October 27, 2013

  • The FARC frees U.S. citizen Kevin Scott Sutay, whom they had been holding since capturing him in Guaviare department in June, to the International Committee of the Red Cross. “The United States played a decisive role in making this liberation possible,” reads a FARC statement. The U.S. Department of State releases a statement thanking the ICRC and the governments of Colombia, Norway, and (perhaps surprisingly) Cuba.
  • FARC lead negotiator Iván Márquez tells reporters that the amount of agreed-upon accords so far adds up to “more than 30 pages.”
  • in a statement, the FARC calls on President Santos to moderate the language of his speeches ordering the military to intensify its anti-guerrilla offensives.
  • In an interview with El Tiempo, Antonio García, one of five members of the ELN Central Command, says that the guerrilla group is willing to negotiate peace, but that the government “lacks political will.”

October 26, 2013

  • President Santos calls on the FARC to “step on the gas to keep advancing toward accords.”

October 23, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators begin a 16th round of talks in Havana on the second agenda item, “political participation.” According to Colombian media reports, President Santos made clear to government negotiators that he expects this round to end with an accord that finalizes this agenda item. “We have received precise instructions from the President,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.

October 21, 2013

  • Maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez issues a statement attacking “neoliberal” critics of the peace talks.

October 19, 2013

  • The FARC peace talks “have advanced, but not at the speed I would have liked,” President Santos says at the Ibero-American summit in Panama City. “I thought that in one year we could have finished the agenda points we agreed upon, but that hasn’t happened.”

October 13, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators end a 15th round of talks in Havana with no agreement reached on the second agenda item, “political participation.”
  • Declaration of chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
  • FARC statement on end of 15th round
  • “The result of these negotiations is moving too slowly,” President Santos says. “What was agreed was a series of points to bring the conflict to an end, and not to make a revolution by decree, which is what the FARC are now intending.”
  • “We inform the country and the international community that the ELN delegation for exploratory dialogues with the government remains chosen and ready,” reads a statement from the guerrilla group.

October 8, 2013

  • With an eye to the upcoming campaign for the May 25, 2014 presidential elections, President Santos tells members of the “La ‘U’” political party that he sees three scenarios: negotiating with the FARC during the campaign, suspending the dialogues and restarting them after the elections, or canceling the peace process. FARC negotiator Andres París says the guerrillas might be open to a suspension of the talks. President Santos tells a gathering of victims that the talks risk losing credibility if the FARC does not “accelerate” their pace.

October 7, 2013

  • The FARC publishes a lengthy interview with Kevin Scott Sutay, the U.S. citizen whom they captured in June in rural Guaviare, and whom they have offered to release. The interview appears to indicate that the guerrillas have grown fond of their captive.

October 3, 2013

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators begin a 15th round of talks in Havana.

  • FARC negotiators release a “first report” on the dialogues. “While more than 25 pages of partial accords have been reached, their extent is modest,” the document reads. It also states, however, “We recognize the government’s will to advance in the dialogues, and we trust that solutions will be found for essential issues for rural transformation, which remain unresolved.”

October 2, 2013

  • Regarding his government’s proposed referendum, President Santos clarifies, “I repeat, this is not the referendum of peace. That referendum has to be negotiated with the counterpart. And we’re going to see if that is possible in the coming days. The law that is being approved in Congress at this momeng is simply insurance so that if there is a referendum, it can ensure that it take place on the same day as congressional or presidential elections.”

October 1, 2013

  • “I think it is possible to advance toward a Colombia without coca, if there is a willingness to substitute [the crops] and to help the farmers,” says FARC commander Pablo Catatumbo in an interview with Bogotá’s Canal Capital, in Havana.

  • “If I were [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro or one of the Castro brothers [in Cuba], or one of the São Paulo Group,” says former President Álvaro Uribe, “I’d tell the FARC to negotiate. You’ll never in the world find anyone who will give you what Santos is offering: impunity and political eligibility.”

October 1-3, 2013

  • The UN Development Program and Colombia’s National University host a forum in San José del Guaviare, in southern Colombia, to gather proposals for the peace talks’ “drug policy” agenda item. Participants overwhelmingly call for an end to aerial herbicide fumigation of coca.

September 30, 2013

  • The ELN releases a statement making clear that any negotiation with the government will have to cover “large economic, political, and social problems,” and rejecting time limits.

September 27, 2013

  • U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson meets with FARC negotiators during a visit to Havana. The FARC ask him for help in arranging the handover of captive U.S. citizen Kevin Scott Sutay. Jackson indicates that he is willing to go to Colombia and help free Sutay.

    Meanwhile former Senator Piedad Córdoba, whom the FARC had requested to be on the committee receiving Sutay — and whose presence was rejected by President Santos — sent a letter to the Farc declining to participate.

    President Santos rejects Jackson’s participation, reiterating on Twitter his call for no “media spectacle” surrounding the guerrillas’ promised release. Santos later calls on the FARC to release Sutay “as soon as possible,” “without any type of conditions,” and without “all kinds of media shows.”

    On September 28, a FARC statement “calls on President Santos to reflect and, instead of unfairly prolonging Kevin’s stay in the jungle, to proceed to design with the ICRC the security protocol that this type of case requires.”

    “The American is free, but he cannot be retrieved, so he indeed is not free,” Jackson said on September 30. “He’s no longer being held by FARC. He’s being held by a lack of access.”

  • “There is much speculation,” President Santos says. “Some say: crisis in the process. Others say that Mr. Timochenko said something, said another thing, or that the President himself said something or said another thing. Don’t pay attention to what is said outside the [negotiating] table. The important thing is what is being negotiated at the table. We’re getting there. I wish we could go faster, but we’re getting there. And we’re going in the right direction.”
  • FARC leader and negotiator Pablo Catatumbo tells an interviewer that the first agenda item, land and rural development, is not fully “closed.” On the issue of whether the FARC will continue to insist on a constitutional convention, Catatumbo responds that the FARC “don’t have ‘red lines’ or immovable positions.”

September 25, 2013

  • Angered by President Santos’s words in New York, maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez issues a letter rejecting calls to negotiate faster, and criticizing as “unilateral impositions” the Legal Framework for Peace and the bill to hold a referendum to ratify an eventual peace accord. Jiménez calls on the FARC negotiating team to prepare a “report to the Colombian people” revealing what has been happening at the dialogues. This is viewed as a call to break the guerrillas’ pledge to maintain the talks’ confidentiality.
  • In a statement the next day, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle recalls the FARC’s confidentiality pledge and says that the government will not accept “any kind of threats,” but concludes that Jiménez’s move is “frankly incomprehensible” because the government has nothing to hide.
  • On September 27th, Jiménez issues another statement clarifying that the call to produce a “report” was not intended to be a break with the talks’ confidentiality.
  • “Venezuela and Cuba are helping us, they are saying, ‘Get rid of warfare; today it’s an anachronism,'” President Santos says at a September 25 event at Harvard University. “They know that through armed struggle they will not achieve anything. They will not achieve power.”

September 24, 2013

  • President Santos speaks at length about the peace process in his speech before the 68th UN General Assembly in New York: “We have already been talking for one year and we have reached agreements on just one of the six items of the agenda. I’m still optimistic, but the patience of the Colombian people is not infinite. The guerrillas will have to decide whether they opt for an honorable and long-lasting peace, or whether they will insist on the war. From this venue, I call upon them to understand that history has led us to this determining moment. The time for decisions has come.”
  • On the issue of international standards for transitional justice, Santos says: “And I want to be clear: there will be NO impunity for crimes against humanity or systematically committed war crimes. … Hence, the purpose is not to sacrifice justice to achieve peace, but how to achieve peace with maximum justice.”

September 24-26, 2013

  • As foreseen in an August communiqué from the FARC and government negotiators, the UN Development Program and Colombia’s National University host a forum in Bogotá to gather proposals for the peace talks’ “drug policy” agenda item.

September 23, 2013

  • President Santos meets in New York with Uruguayan President Pepe Mujica. He thanks Mujica for offering Uruguayan territory as a possible venue for talks with the ELN, “when the moment to converse with those guerrillas arrives.”

September 22, 2013

  • Speaking at the LaGuardia Institute in New York, President Santos refers to the conflict with the FARC as “that dead mule, that dead cow, in the road, that is blocking our development.”

September 20, 2013

  • In an interview with Colombia’s RCN Radio, President Santos says that “the government’s patience has its limits, as does that of the Colombian people. And that is what we are telling the counterpart: we can’t keep slipping along here without advancing. But we have advanced in the way the conversations are being carried out.” Asked whether an accord can be reached before March, Santos answers, “I still believe that it is possible, yes there is a will to reach some accords before the month of March.” Of the FARC, Santos says, “I have more confidence in their will to make peace. I believe that they are increasingly realizing that they have no alternative. … And logically they’re wanting to gain more space and try to win at the negotiations. That is normal, it is a conversation between opponents.”

September 19, 2013

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators complete their fourteenth round of talks in Havana, the fifth covering the second agenda item, “political participation.” “The parties continued moving forward on building agreements, in the drafting commission,” reads the parties’ joint communiqué.

    “We have advanced and we have important achievements,” reads the government communiqué read by chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle. “But they are not enough. We must show Colombians more results to meet their expectations. … Another thing is the [FARC’s] excess of rhetoric about the most varied aspects of national life, which have nothing to do with the agenda or with the work in Havana. … However, speaking frankly, we maintain faith in a good outcome for the process.”

    The FARC’s communiqué criticizes the Framework for Peace constitutional reform as “an enormous impediment” to peace, as the guerrillas were not consulted in drafting it before its mid-2012 passage. The FARC also repeats its insistence on a constitutional convention to cement in place the commitments of an eventual peace accord.

  • FARC communiqué reiterating rejection of Legal Framework for Peace constitutional reform

September 18, 2013

  • The FARC reiterates its call for a commission to complement the work of the government’s Historical Memory Commission.

September 17, 2013

  • The FARC releases the ninth of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

September 16, 2013

  • “It might be wishful thinking, but I am optimistic that we will reach an agreement before the [May presidential] elections,” President Santos says in an interview with Bloomberg News.

September 13, 2013

  • “I refuse to conceive of an international justice system that blocks the way of a nation that seeks, without neglecting victims nor the right to truth, to end a half-centry conflict,” says President Santos.

September 11, 2013

  • The FARC releases the eighth of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

September 10, 2013

  • In a scathing column in the Washington daily The Hill, former President Uribe sharply criticizes his successor’s effort to negotiate peace. “President Santos has welcomed the prospect of FARC becoming a political party and its members, many responsible for crimes against humanity, participating in politics rather than serving jail time, an idea 72 percent of Colombians oppose. Such impunity would be absurd, as if the United States allowed al-Qaeda members to run for office.”

  • The FARC releases the seventh of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

September 9, 2013

  • The Colombian government and the FARC begin a 14th round of talks in Havana.
  • “Solutions for the poorest cannot keep being postponed,” reads a FARC communiqué, “while the costs of war increase and Juan Carlos Pinzón — a big talker who satanizes protest and orders the army to smash them with blood and fire — is ratified as minister of Defense.” The next day, Pinzón replies that the FARC “should talk less and dedicate themselves to advancing in the process so that they turn in their arms and reach the peace that the Colombian people want.”

  • Vice-President Angelino Garzón expresses high optimism about the imminence of talks with the ELN guerrillas. “It is intended to dialogue within the next few days with the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army, at a site different from Havana. The government has made the decision not to mix pears and apples, that the dialogues with these guerrillas will be separate from that of the FARC.”

September 8, 2013

  • The day before a new round of talks, lead government negotiator de la Calle says, “I believe that the moment to make decisions is coming. We believe that this is a special moment in the phase of conversations of the government and guerrillas in Havana.”

  • President Santos says that FARC members would be allowed to keep their weapons until a peace agreement is ratified. According to the BBC, “Mr. Santos said no one could expect the rebels to give up their weapons before a peace accord had been given final approval in a referendum.”

September 4, 2013

  • Faced with the possibility that members of the Colombian Congress from several parties might visit Havana and meet with FARC negotiators, President Santos says that “in principle,” he is not opposed.
  • In a statement, the FARC rejects the Santos administration’s proposed referendum law as “unilateral” and “for electoral use.”

September 3, 2013

  • “We are currently in a critical moment of negotiations, I think that in the next months we will know if this is going to work or not because we are beginning on essential issues,” Colombian government High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo tells a congressional hearing. At the same hearing, chief negotiator de la Calle explains that a referendum on peace should take place simultaneously with presidential or congressional elections in order to guarantee the high turnout that its approval would require. “If there is not enough turnout, we might achieve an accord that could die from the idleness of citizen participation.”

September 4, 2013

  • An Invamer-Gallup poll [PDF] shows President Santos’s approval rating tumbling to 21 percent at the end of August, from 48 percent in June. The slide owes principally to Santos’s handling of rural protests occurring at the time. A majority continues to support peace talks. Of those polled, 57 percent say that dialogue is the best option to end the conflict; 38 percent favor miliary action. Sixty-two percent are in favor of the current peace process. However, only 36 percent believe that the process will lead to the end of the conflict, and 60 percent doubt it.

  • National Internal Affairs chief (Procurador General) Alejandro Ordóñez, a conservative critic of the peace process, criticizes the idea of a referendum to ratify an eventual peace accord with the FARC. He says it would be “an armed referendum, with the pistol pointed at citizens’ temples.”

September 2, 2013

  • In the wake of mass protests in rural areas and in Bogotá, President Santos requires all 16 cabinet members to submit their resignations. Within a few days, he accepts the resignations of five, including the ministers of interior and agriculture.
  • Chief government negotiator de la Calle explains the dynamic of the current negotiating agenda topic: “The simplistic focus that we’re in a confrontation between a constitutional convention versus a referendum is incorrect. We’re trying to work at the table on a complex mechanism that takes up elements that may be novel, that will allow the accords to be guaranteed, that will allow a fast means of implementation of the accords, above all in the legal area.”

August 29, 2013

  • Thousands of protesters expressing solidarity with Colombia’s striking farmers assemble in central Bogotá. Some of them clash with police and carry out acts of vandalism. Authorities impose curfews and deploy the Army to patrol some of the capital’s neighborhoods.

August 28, 2013

  • Colombian government and FARC negotiators end a 13th round of talks in Havana.
  • “We want a Colombia without coca. It would be a gigantic step for the country and the world,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle. “And to get the FARC to collaborate in this purpose would be a very important element of these conversations in Havana.”
  • FARC statement upon conclusion of 13th round of talks
  • The FARC reiterates a proposal for a “Commission of Review and Clarification of the Truth of the History of the Colombian Internal Conflict.”
  • By a 7 to 2 vote, Colombia’s Constitutional Court upholds nearly all of the Legal Framework for Peace, a constitutional reform passed in June 2012. The Framework is controversial because, as written, it holds out the possibility that an eventual enabling law could allow amnesties for those who commit crimes against humanity. The Court’s president insists that serious war crimes will not go unpunished.

August 27, 2013

  • The ELN guerrillas release Jernoc Wobert, the Canadian mining company geologist who spent seven months as a hostage.

  • A day later, President Santos says, “The government is ready to start dialogues with the ELN.” But the newsmagazine Semana warns, “As far as we can confirm, the parties have not defined the place where preliminary conversations ‘to discuss what to discuss’ might occur (possibilities range from Costa Rica to Uruguay to Cuba to Venezuela), and not even the composition of both delegations [of negotiators].”
  • The FARC releases the sixth of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

August 26, 2013

  • Dialogues between the government and the FARC resume in Havana, three days after the FARC called a pause. The guerrillas had placed talks on hold to express dissatisfaction with the government’s introduction, without consulting the guerrillas, of legislation for a referendum to approve an eventual peace accord.
  • Both sides issue a joint communiqué announcing two public forums to gather civil-society input on the talks’ fourth agenda item, drug policy. One will occur in late September in Bogotá, and the other will take place in the southern Colombian provincial capital of San José del Guaviare.
  • The FARC publishes “reflections” criticizing government actions it views as unilateral.

August 23, 2013

  • FARC negotiators in Havana announce a temporary “pause” in talks with the government. The guerrillas say they need to “analyze” the legislation, introduced a day earlier by the Santos administration, to hold a referendum to approve an eventual peace accord. The FARC insists on a constitutional convention instead of a referendum.

  • President Santos recalls the government negotiating team to Bogotá to discuss the situation.
  • “The government continues at the dialogue table,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle. “The dialogue has not been broken. It is expected that the time the FARC will dedicate to studying this legislation will be brief in order to take up the conversations again soon.” De la Calle adds that the legislation itself would not convene a referendum, it would merely allow one to take place concurrent with 2014 congressional or presidential elections. “The eventual creation of this or any other mechanism depends on what the delegations agree to in Havana.”

August 22, 2013

  • President Santos sends legislation to Colombia’s Congress that would schedule a referendum to approve the contents of an eventual peace agreement — a mechanism that FARC negotiators oppose. The legislation would make it possible for such a referendum to coincide with March 2014 congressional elections or May 2014 presidential elections. “If we reach agreements and reach them by the end of the year as we all want, and don’t have any way to have a referendum, it would be gravely irresponsible to not have foreseen this possibility,” the president said.
  • The foreign minister of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, said his government was willing “to collaborate, sometimes from humble positions, providing or exchanging information between the parties, being a transmission belt” for Colombia’s peace process.

August 20, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC softened somewhat its position regarding its responsibility toward the guerrillas’ victims. “Without a doubt there has also been cruelty and pain provoked by our forces. … We must all recognize the need to take on the issue of victims, their identity and reparation with total loyalty to the cause of peace and reconciliation.”

August 19, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators begin a 13th round of talks in Havana, Cuba.
  • Farmers block roads and stage protests in several parts of Colombia to protest economic conditions and free trade policies. Over the next several days, the “agrarian strike” will grow rapidly in Colombia, with frequent clashes between protestors and riot police.

August 18, 2013

  • The ELN announces that it will release Jernoc Wobert, a Canadian mining company geologist whom the guerrillas abducted in January. As a condition of Wobert’s release, the ELN had demanded that his company, Braeval Mining, renounce mining titles that the guerrillas claimed were obtained without communities’ approval. Braeval announced that it would pull entirely out of Colombia and Wobert was freed. “I celebrate that ELN decision,” said President Santos. “This is a decision that I consider a correct step, in the right direction, to start dialogues in order to seek peace in this country.”

August 17, 2013

  • President Santos inaugurates a new military high command, four days after requesting the resignations of the chiefs of all military branches. The new armed forces chief is Army Gen. Leonardo Barrero. Sources in Colombia’s Presidency tell the El Tiempo newspaper that the new leadership is “the high command for peace and the post-conflict.”

    August is not the usual time for a change in military command. According to some news reports, the outgoing chief of the Army, Gen. Sergio Mantilla — who was likely in line to be armed forces chief — was an opponent of the Santos government’s peace negotiations. Unnamed sources told the Semana newsmagazine “that in a security meeting in [the central city of] Bucaramanga … Mantilla verbally attacked the minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón, showing a lack of respect that was the last straw.”

    “Some say that in our armed forces, they basically are not interested in peace,” said President Santos at the change of command ceremony. “And I tell them how wrong they are. All soldiers in the world and our soldiers here in Colombia, on land, sea, and air, are the first ones interested in peace, because it is they who must make the effort, who make up the victims, who make up the dead.”

August 15, 2013

  • Speaking before Colombia’s governors, President Santos criticizes those “who rend their garments” over the possibility that former guerrillas “may someday practice politics from within the state.” But “that is what peace is about,” the President says.

August 14, 2013

  • Maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez releases a statement about the “difficulties” the group faces at the negotiating table, as it wants more radical changes than the government is prepared to concede.

August 13, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Colombia. He voices strong support for the peace process and indicates that the Obama administration is willing to assist the post-conflict.

“I was particularly pleased this morning to be able to meet with Colombia’s – the Government of Colombia’s peace negotiators and also to be able to speak with President Santos about peace efforts. The Santos Administration has undertaken a very courageous and very necessary and very imaginative effort to seek a political solution to one of the world’s longest conflicts, and any negotiation that can help to strengthen Colombia’s democracy, that promotes respect for rule of law and human rights, and achieves an enduring peace that the people of Colombia can share in is a welcome development, and the United States of America will support that peace. …

“I can guarantee you, having done this for these last many years, the United States is not going to suddenly stop being engaged or walk away from this peace process. As I mentioned in my opening comments, we are deeply supportive of what President Santos is trying to achieve. I know this began in earnest with President Uribe a number of years ago, and for a number of years the main focus was on security alone. But we believe, as does President Santos, that Colombia has reached a point now where in its development, in its security, in its trade, in its governing capacity, that it is important for them to try to look to what is sustainable for the long term, and that means finding peace.

“So the United States will support the peace process. No, there is not a specific delineated set of figures with respect to a budget because there is not yet a specific agreement around which to build that plan. But we will remain completely supportive of Colombia’s efforts to achieve the peace. I believe it’s a courageous path that the President has put Colombia on, and we will continue to support it. …

“As a friend of Colombia, President Obama wants the people of this country to know that when you achieve that peace the United States of America will do everything in our power to help respect it and to help you to be able to implement it. And obviously, at that point in time, we will have discussions about what else may be necessary in order to guarantee its success and sustainability over the long term.”

August 10, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators complete a twelfth round of talks in Havana. “We have started to build agreements on Rights and Guarantees for exercising political opposition in general, and in particular for the new movements that may arise after the signature of the Final Agreement. Access to mass media,” reads a joint communiqué.
  • “Never before has anyone come this far” in negotiations with the FARC, chief government negotiator de la Calle tells reporters.
  • FARC statement upon closure of 12th round of talks.

August 9, 2013

  • The FARC releases the fifth of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

August 8, 2013

  • In an interview with Reuters, President Santos said that if a peace agreement is not reached, the FARC’s negotiators in Cuba “would have to return to Colombia and face the destiny of all other FARC leaders who ended up in the grave or in prison.” Guerrilla negotiator Iván Márquez, responded that Santos’s comments were “unfortunate” and did little to promote “a reasonable environment for the development and progress in working out a peace accord.”

August 7, 2013

  • The FARC releases the fourth of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

August 6, 2013

  • The FARC releases a statement criticizing the “Framework for Peace” constitutional reform, which was passed in June 2012 and is being reviewed by Colombia’s Constitutional Court. “That unilateral government initiative that the Constitutional Court is debating today will play no positice role in the peace process to which the FARC-EP has committed.” Said FARC leader Pablo Catatumbo, “Our counterpart in the confrontation never took into account the insurgency’s proposals on the issue of legality or the parameters of the so-called transition” to a post-conflict situation.

August 5, 2013

  • A poll commissioned by Colombia’s Caracol radio network, taken in five cities, finds:
    47 percent in favor of a referendum to ratify peace accords, and 53 percent opposed.
    31 percent in favor of a constitutional convention to ratify peace accords, and 69 percent opposed.
    23 percent in favor of a deal for the FARC similar to what paramilitaries received in the 2000s (no prison for rank-and-file fighters, and 5-to-8-year terms for top leaders), and 77 percent opposed.
    22 percent in favor of allowing top FARC leaders to participate in elections, and 78 percent opposed.
    20 percent in favor of allowing the FARC to keep its weapons in a post-conflict situation, and 80 percent opposed.
    13 percent in favor of allowing suspended prison sentences for FARC leaders, and 87% opposed.
    11 percent in favor of allowing automatic congressional seats, with no prison, for FARC leaders, and 89% opposed.

  • In a statement referencing the recently released report of the Colombian government’s Historical Memory Commission, the FARC proposes “a commission with national and foreign members, which would study the history of the confrontation, from the beginning of the violence, in order to prepare the materials required to complete Point Five of the Dialogues’ Agenda, referring to victims.”
  • “If in November we haven’t finished entirely, we’ll see where we are, and if we have to prolong the talks a couple of months, we’ll extend them,” President Santos tells Colombia’s Caracol Radio network. “Deadlines in these processes are totally counterproductive.”

August 4, 2013

  • President Santos tells Colombia’s El Tiempo that his government has held preliminary talks with with the ELN guerrillas and “is very close to starting the negotiations.”

August 2, 2013

  • The FARC releases the third of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”

August 1, 2013

  • “This issue of victims is a special point,” says FARC negotiator Jesús Santrich, indicating that the guerrillas are beginning to think about their post-conflict responsibility to their victims. “We’ve said that we feel all of the victims’ pain, all the pains of the war that the state imposed and has degraded into terrorism. We cannot submit ourselves to the spectacle of ‘pragmatic pardon’ that many sometimes use just to satisfy a requirement. Of course, we are going to open ourselves to the discussion, to open our minds and hearts so that reconciliation may be without spectacle, so that pardon isn’t taken as an instrument to demonize one’s contradictor.”

  • A Uruguayan newspaper reveals that the country’s left-of center president, Pepe Mujica, met with FARC negotiators Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich while on a July 24-28 visit to Cuba. “The most important thing happening in Latin America is the attempt to build peace in Colombia,” says Mujica. “It is one of the most important things of the past few decades, and we must try to help to the extent that we can.”

July 30, 2013

  • The FARC reiterates its demand that ex-Senator Piedad Córdoba be among those present when it hands over U.S. citizen Kevin Scott Sutay, whom the group has been holding since June. “We have put the ball in the government’s court,” says FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda.

July 29, 2013

  • The FARC releases the second of ten “minimal proposals for political participation.”
  • After meeting with President Santos, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says, “This terrible plague that Colombia has lived with for so many years now has a very good opportunity to come to an end.”

July 28, 2013

  • The Colombian government and FARC guerrillas begin a twelfth round of negotiations in Havana, Cuba.
  • In reference to the July 20 FARC attacks on military targets, chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says, “Many Colombians do not understand why we are dialoguing while the armed groups’ attacks continue,” adding, “The guerrillas will have to respond for everything that has occurred amid the conflict.” With regard to the FARC’s demands that the government guarantee the political opposition’s security, de la Calle says that “it is also up to the FARC to provide them [guarantees].”

  • FARC spokesman Andrés París says, “It’s worth nothing to talk in Havana about limiting landholding” if the government “maintains and deepens the causes of confrontation” with its response to the peasant protests in Catatumbo and elsewhere.
  • FARC statement upon launch of 12th round of talks.

July 26, 2013

  • In a four-page letter to the president of Colombia’s Constitutional Court, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, warns against approving suspended sentences for the worst violators of human rights as part of any peace deal: “I have come to the conclusion that a punishment that is grossly or manifestly inadequate … would invalidate the authenticity of the national judicial process. … The suspension of sentences would go against the ends and purposes of the Rome Statute, given that it would impede, in practice, punishment of those who have committed the most serious crimes.”

July 25, 2013

  • Colombia’s Constitutional Court holds a 12-hour session to hear arguments for and against the “Legal Framework for Peace,” a constitutional amendment approved in mid-2012 that would set the limits of an eventual transitional justice arrangement. Some human rights defenders criticize the measure for holding out the possibility that military and guerrilla human rights abusers might be amnestied. “In this case the cure could end up being worse than the disease,” says a principal litigator in the case, Gustavo Gallón of the Colombian Commission of Jurists. “It’s not about sacrificing justice to reach peace but how to achieve peace with the most justice,” responds President Santos. The dilemma, says Rodrigo Uprimny of the think-tank DeJuSticia, is that while “a peace process that destroys victims’ rights isn’t viable, but neither is a conception of victims’ rights that makes the peace process inviable.”

July 24, 2013

  • The Colombian government’s Center for Historical Memory, an autonomous body made up of scholars and researchers, releases Enough Already! Colombia: Memories of War and Dignity, the product of six years of research into the causes and the extent of Colombia’s conflict. At a ceremony commemorating the report’s launch, President Santos says, “There is an issue here which is another of those ‘uncomfortable’ truths that are also being faced. I refer to cases of state agencies’ collusion with illegal armed groups, and the security forces’ acts of omission at some stages of the internal armed conflict, which the Center for Historical Memory’s reports also reflect. The state must investigate and punish this conduct in order to comply with the victims’ rights to truth and justice.”

July 22, 2013

  • The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela meet in Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro pledges Venezuela’s continuing support for the FARC peace process, indicating that the late May-early June rift in bilateral relations has been patched up. “We are at your orders to contribute, even modestly, so Colombia can celebrate peace sooner than later,” Maduro said.

  • President Santos says he will not allow Senator Córdoba to participate in a FARC handover of U.S. captive Kevin Scott Sutay. He demands that the release occur quietly with no media benefit to the FARC: “These gentlemen of the FARC, violating in a flagrant way the commitment they made at the start of peace talks, are holding hostage a North American citizen … Now they want to free him amid a media show and want the whole country and the world to thank them for their humanitarian gesture.”

July 21, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC’s Magdalena Medio Bloc criticizes the government response to peasant protests in the Catatumbo region of northeastern Colombia, which have been raging, at times with violence, for over six weeks. The statement controversially offers “our arms and our combatants” in support of the protesters.

July 20, 2013

  • On Colombia’s Independence Day, the FARC carries out its largest attack on a military target of the entire peace process period. Fifteen members of an army column protecting an oil pipeline in Fortul, Arauca, are killed in a guerrilla attack. Some of those killed, according to witnesses, were disarmed and defenseless. Elsewhere, in Doncello, Caquetá, a FARC attack kills four more soldiers. “I have instructed our forces not to stop shooting until the conflict is over,” says President Santos.

  • The peace process is a principal theme of President Santos’s speech before the opening of a new session of Colombia’s Congress. He uses the word “peace” 33 times.

July 19, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC Secretariat announces that the group is holding a U.S. citizen. Kevin Scott Sutay, a U.S. military veteran who sought to walk for 300 miles through Colombia’s southern jungles, fell into FARC hands in June. The guerrillas announced their intention to free Sutay as a goodwill gesture, to a commission made up of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Vatican Sant’Egidio Community, and former Senator Piedad Córdoba.

July 18, 2013

  • The Colombian government and FARC announce a six-day delay, from July 22 to July 28, in the start of the twelfth round of negotiations.
  • On a visit to Bogotá, Argentine President Cristina Fernández congratulates President Santos for pursuing peace. “Only idiots, those who do not love their country, can apply barriers or be against Colombia being one Colombia for all Colombians,” she said.

July 15, 2013

  • “We are certain that the five-decade long Colombian armed conflict is nearing an end,” FARC negotiator Iván Márquez tells Colombia’s RCN television. “It is possible [to reach an agreement by November]. But to achieve peace you need time. A bad peace deal is worse than war.”
  • In an open letter to the Episcopal Conference of Colombia’s Catholic Church, the ELN expresses disagreement with the bishops’ call on the guerrilla group to disarm as a precondition for starting negotiations.

July 11, 2013

  • In letters to President Santos and the Colombians for Peace civil-society group, the ELN reiterates its refusal to release Canadian mining company manager Jernoc Wobert, whom the group kidnapped from the northern department of Bolívar in January. The ELN continues to insist that Wobert’s company first renounce four mining titles that the guerrillas claim were obtained illegally.

July 9, 2013

  • The eleventh round of FARC-government talks ends in Havana. The joint communiqué offers no sign of agreement, or even notable progress, on the “political participation” agenda item. “Each side presented its general vision on political participation, beginning with the issue of security guarantees for the opposition, as an essential element to build a final accord,” it reads. “We have had a very rich discussion,” FARC negotiator Iván Márquez tells reporters.
  • In a statement, the FARC repeats its insistence on a constitutional convention following a peace accord, saying that the holding of an assembly to rewrite Colombia’s constitution is “the key to peace.” The Colombian government, which strongly opposes a constitutional convention, issues no statement. Inspector-General (Procurador) Alejandro Ordóñez, a conservative figure who heads a branch of government separate from the executive, recommends that the Colombian government get up from the negotiating table if the FARC should continue to insist on a constitutional convention.
  • The State Council, Colombia’s top administrative tribunal, reinstates the legal status of the Patriotic Union party. Founded during a failed mid-1980s peace process and at least initially linked to the FARC, the Patriotic Union saw about 3,000 of its members, candidates, and officeholders murdered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The party lost its legal charter when it failed to present candidates in the 2002 elections. The State Council ruled that this should not have happened because the party had been illegally forced to the margins by violence.

July 8, 2013

  • At a conference of his “Democratic Center” political party, former President Álvaro Uribe, a fierce critic of the FARC peace talks, appears to soften his position slightly. “If one of our party arrives in the Presidency [in 2014] and things with the FARC are the way they are now, what to do? My respectful suggestion is not to talk about canceling the process, but about a conditional suspension of the dialogues until there is a cessation of criminal activities.”
  • In a letter to President Santos, maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez says “Colombian democracy is an embarrassment; we are going to change it.”

July 7, 2013

  • FARC negotiator Andrés París appears to show new flexibility on the guerrillas’ demand for a constitutional convention following a peace accord. He tells Colombia’s Caracol news network, “Neither this point nor any other has to become an unmovable obstacle that impedes the progress of the process.” París “said that a constitutional convention is not the only way to legalize the peace process,” according to Medellín’s El Colombiano newspaper.
  • París also argues that Colombia’s army should be reduced after a peace accord. “The state should have a proposal ready regarding the arms of the 500,000 men who won’t need them in a country that is living in peace. Objectively, if there is no conflict why would such a large army be needed?”
  • A weeks-old protest begun by small farmers escalates into violent incidents in the Catatumbo region of Norte de Santander department, in northeastern Colombia near the Venezuelan border. The thousands of protesters are demanding an end to aerial herbicide fumigation in coca-growing areas, the establishment of a “peasant reserve zone” to limit the size of landholdings, and more state services. Some Colombian government officials, like Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo, accuse the FARC and other armed groups of “seeking to influence the process in Havana, and that is something we are not going to permit.” In a July 8 statement, the FARC negotiators in Havana express support for the Catatumbo protesters and deny that they have infiltrated them.

July 4, 2013

  • In Fortul, Arauca department, the ELN releases to a humanitarian commission an army corporal, Carlos Fabián Huertas, whom it had captured in mid-May. President Santos calls the release “a gesture in the right direction.” The guerrilla group continues to hold a Canadian mining company employee kidnapped in Bolívar in January.

July 3, 2013

  • “If there is sufficient political will, we can achieve an agreement by the end of the year … as long as there is a wish to advance,” President Santos says while on a visit to Geneva.

July 1, 2013

  • An eleventh round of talks between the government and the FARC begins in Havana. Negotiators return to the second agenda topic, “political participation.”
  • Lead government negotiator De la Calle reiterates that the government refuses to discuss topics that are not on the negotiating agenda.
  • The FARC and ELN release two joint communiqués indicating that the guerrilla groups’ top leaders held a “summit” somewhere in Colombia. At this meeting, these statements report, the two groups agreed to put behind past disputes and work for “unity of all political and social forces working to carry out profound changes in society.” The groups say that “a political solution to the social and armed conflict” is part of their “strategic horizon.” The ELN appears to endorse the FARC’s call for a constitutional convention.
  • Speaking to reporters in Havana, FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo says, “We will do everything we can so that talks between our sister organization and the government begin.”

June 27, 2013

  • “We will keep supporting [the peace talks] in any way that we can be of use,” says the foreign minister of Chile, Alfredo Moreno, during a meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Holguín.

June 23, 2013

  • Speaking before a march of conflict victims at El Carmen, Bolívar department, President Santos addresses the FARC. “Keep your word! Negotiate over those [agreed agenda] points, play clean, don’t start asking for the impossible, don’t start asking for things that nobody is going to concede, things that aren’t in the accords.” Santos continues, “Now we see that maybe they won’t turn in their weapons. One of the agenda points is precisely that they turn in their weapons because if not, why are we talking?” The President concludes reminding the FARC that “the Colombian people’s patience is not unlimited.”
  • “It would be a historic crime to deny Colombia the opportunity to reconcile,” says Roy Chaderton, Venezuela’s envoy to the peace talks.

June 21, 2013

  • Just 3 days after the negotiating teams end their separate consultations and begin meeting together, the 10th round of dialogues come to a close.
  • The government and FARC issue a joint communiqué indicating that they “have stated their general view of the topic” of political participation.
  • They also release a 2,400-word report on the dialogues’ activities so far.

June 19, 2013

  • The FARC releases a document laying out “10 minimal proposals” for the political participation agenda topic. These include “a restructuring of the state” and a “constitutional convention.” The guerrillas propose to do away with the presidential system, change the House of Representatives into a “territorial” body, restructure the armed forces, and much else. Luis Eduardo Garzón, the Colombian government’s presidential advisor for social dialogue, tells El Tiempo that the document is positive because it shows that “the FARC today is more on the offensive politically than militarily, and that is very positive for the search for peace.”

June 16, 2013

  • Lead government negotiator De la Calle publishes a column in Colombia’s most-circulated newsmagazine, Semana, laying out the government’s case against the FARC’s proposal for a constitutional convention. “This is neither the optimal mechanism, nor the most practical, as it is more burdensome than other tools and doesn’t produce the desired effects.”
  • In an interview published in the same issue of Semana, FARC negotiator Andrés París insists on the constitutional convention as “the key to peace.”
  • Interviewed in Cali’s El País newspaper, Paris signals the FARC’s reluctance to disarm immediately after an accord is signed. “[We are interested in following] the Irish model because principles were established and, for example, they did not turn in weapons.” París adds that the guerrillas have “repeatedly” told the government that “they will never have” a photo of a ceremony in which guerrillas symbolically turn in weapons.

June 12, 2013

  • Venezuela’s envoy to the peace talks, OAS Ambassador Roy Chaderton, returns to Havana after being called back to Caracas for “consultations.” The FARC posts an account and photo of Chaderton’s meeting with the guerrilla negotiators.

June 11, 2013

  • A tenth round of FARC-government talks begins in Havana. The new agenda topic is political participation: the guerrillas’ eventual transformation into a political party, security and access guarantees for the political opposition, electoral rules and similar issues. As difficult as the land and rural development agenda topic was, notes Colombia’s Semana newsmagazine, “the political participation issue may be even thornier.” The two negotiating parties agree to spend the first week working separately.
  • In a statement, the FARC proposes delaying for one year Colombia’s March 2014 legislative elections and May 2014 presidential election. The guerrillas make this proposal as part of a larger call for a constitutional convention in which elected representatives rewrite Colombia’s constitution. Lead government negotiator De la Calle rejects both proposals: “That [the election delay] won’t happen, a constitutional convention won’t happen.”

June 7, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed his enormous respect for the peace process in Colombia and highlighted the advances of the country, the work and leadership of President Santos to achieve a much safer and prosperous country,” according to a Colombian Foreign Ministry readout of a meeting, at the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala, between Kerry and Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín.
  • According to a FARC statement, the dialogues are “in limbo” because of troubled Colombia-Venezuela relations following President Santos’s May 29 meeting in Bogotá with the leader of Venezuela’s political opposition.

June 6, 2013

  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed “great support for the peace process and said that we must persevere, because it is not easy,” said President Santos after meeting with Cameron in London. “I congratulated the President on progress in the peace talks with the FARC and looked forward to seeing more progress on this, and on human rights concerns, in the future,” read a statement from UK Foreign Minister William Hague.

June 4, 2013

  • In a sign that tensions with Colombia are diminishing, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua says, “The Colombian armed conflict remains, and we are dedicated, beyond our differences, beyond the current conjuncture, to bring the eradication of this last focus of violence.”

June 2, 2013

  • Referring to a threat, attributed to the FARC, received by leaders of Colombia’s politically moderate CGT trade union, President Santos says “If that turns out to be true and they carry it out, it could endanger the peace process because it would be absolutely unacceptable.” The FARC deny issuing the threat, saying it is a setup by figures on Colombia’s right wing.

May 29, 2013

  • President Santos agrees to meet in Bogotá with the head of Venezuela’s political opposition, Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost Venezuela’s April 14 presidential elections and refuses to recognize the victory of President Nicolás Maduro. The Maduro government responds angrily. “I made efforts with the Colombian guerrillas to achieve peace in Colombia. Now they’re going to pay us like this, with betrayal,” Maduro says. Venezuela recalls its envoy to the talks for “consultations” in Caracas. FARC negotiators declare themselves to be “worried, very worried.” By the first week of June, tensions seem to be diminishing.

May 28, 2013

  • U.S. State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell says, “The agreement on land reform is the first ever between the Colombian Government and the FARC, and as such the terms of its – and in terms of its substance it’s a highly positive step forward in the peace negotiation. So we’ve long given our strong support for President Santos and the Colombian Government as they pursue lasting peace and security that the Colombian people deserve.”

May 27, 2013

  • U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, on a May 26-27 visit to Colombia, praises the land accord and the FARC-government process, which he calls “serious and well designed.” Biden added in a joint appearance with President Santos, “Just as we supported Colombia’s leaders on the battlefield, we support them fully at the negotiating table.”
  • U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Peter Michael McKinley calls the accord “an advance that encourages the possibility that these negotiations are going to end the conflict in Colombia.”
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon welcomed the agreement: “This is a significant achievement and an important step forward,” read a statement from his spokesman.
  • “This is a positive step in the process to achieve peace in Colombia,” says OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro calls the FARC-government land agreement “historic” and “the best peace message that the Bolivarian peoples could receive.”
  • The government of Chile says it “constitutes a very relevant achievement, which has required flexibility and moderation from both sides.”
  • European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton expressed “hopes that this crucial, albeit partial, agreement will add fresh impetus to the Havana negotiations, with a view to the rapid conclusion of a final peace agreement.”
  • “Terrorist Farc kills our soldiers and policemen and the Santos government rewards them with a land agreement,” tweets former president Alvaro Uribe.

May 26, 2013

  • At the conclusion of the ninth round of talks, the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas make a weighty announcement: that they have reached agreement on land and rural development, the first of five points on the negotiating agenda. This is the first time the government and FARC have agreed on a substantive topic in four different negotiating attempts over the previous 30 years. While the agreement’s text remains secret under the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” the two sides’ joint statement (EnglishSpanish) indicates that it covers the following:

  • Land access and use. Unproductive lands. Formalization of property. Agricultural frontier and protection of reserve zones.

  • Development programs with a territorial focus.

  • Infrastructure and land improvements.

  • Social development: health, education, housing, eradication of poverty.

  • Stimulus for agrarian production and a solidarity-based, cooperative economy. Technical assistance. Subsidies. Credit. Income generation. Labor formalization.

  • Food and nutrition policies.

  • Declaration of lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle

May 25, 2013

  • In an interview with Semana magazine journalist María Jimena Duzán, FARC Secretariat member and negotiator Pablo Catatumbo repeats that the guerrillas “don’t want an ‘express process.'”

May 19, 2013

  • In an op-ed in Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper, lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle discusses transitional justice. Instead of being a “toad we must swallow” by leaving past abuses unpunished, he writes, transitional justice “extends to recognition of victims, reconciliation, and reinforcement of justice and the rule of law.”

May 15, 2013

  • A ninth round of FARC-government talks begins in Havana.
  • A FARC statement says the group has “full expectation and desire to take up the second [agenda] point very soon,” but goes on to voice concerns about land tenure and rural development, the first topic.
  • Asked about the peace process while on a visit to Cartagena, former U.S. President Bill Clinton says, “The risk of failure is not an argument for not trying. It is preferable to try and fail than not to try for fear of failure.”

May 14, 2013

  • President Santos defends the decision to keep secret the text of partial, draft peace accords: “partial accords can easily be manipulated or wrongly interpreted to poison the process.” He repeats the oft-used phrase, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

May 13, 2013

  • In Rome, President Santos discusses the peace process with Pope Francis, who offers expressions of support.
  • Santos tells a Vatican newspaper that Colombians are not “totally optimistic” about the FARC talks, but that “a moderate optimism exists.”

May 10, 2013

  • On a visit to Colombia, German President Joachim Gaück says that his government is “content” with the steps achieved so far in the peace process.

May 9, 2013

  • “Today, Colombia’s pursuing a historic peace effort with the FARC,” says U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, announcing that he will visit Colombia at the end of the month. “And just as we have supported Colombia’s leaders in the battlefield, we’ll fully support their efforts to end the conflict at the negotiating table.”
  • Before a military audience, President Santos reiterates that the future of Colombia’s armed forces is not up for discussion at the Havana dialogues. He adds that if a transitional justice mechanism offers leniency to FARC human rights violators, it will offer something similar to military human rights violators.
  • If the ELN wishes to begin talks, Santos adds, the guerrilla group “has to free its kidnap victims, above all the Canadian [mining company employee Jernoc Wobert] it is holding.” On May 8, the ELN said it would not release Wobert, in captivity since January 18, until his company cedes mining rights to local communities in Bolívar department.
  • In a speech (Spanish)(English) at Bogotá’s Universidad Externado, High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo portrays an eventual peace accord not as the end of a peace process, but as the beginning of a larger, rather ambitious transition in Colombia’s historically conflictive territories. He defends the idea of a transitional justice framework that allows some impunity for past human rights abuses, as long as victims’ needs are met.
  • At the same Bogotá university event, the heads of two branches of Colombia’s government debate the question of impunity in a future transitional justice process. Prosecutor-General Eduadro Montealegre defends the peace framework law passed in mid-2012, which holds out the possibility of amnesty for all but the most serious human rights violators. Montealegre proposes that those accused of crimes against humanity be banned from politics, though they may receive suspended sentences. Inspector-General Alejandro Ordóñez challenges the validity of the framework law, opposing an arrangement that allows FARC rights violators to stay out of prison. Ordoñez holds out the possibility that extrajudicial executions committed by the armed forces might not count as “crimes against humanity.”
  • Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo predicts that the FARC and government will sign an accord “in November or December.” Senate President Roy Barreras says Colombia should prepare “for a longer peace process than has previously been announced.”

May 8, 2013

  • Fifty-six U.S. and Colombian faith leaders sign two letters to President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and President Santos supporting the peace process and “calling for a U.S. policy that prioritizes peace and human rights in Colombia.”
  • A poll from the Centro Nacional de Consultoría finds 69 percent of Colombian respondents supporting the dialogues with the FARC. This is two percentage points higher than the same poll found in April. An Invamer Gallup poll taken in late April found support for the dialogues at 67 percent, up five points from February. The polling firm attributed the peace talks as a key reason why President Santos’s popularity rose to 47 percent, from 44 percent in February.

May 6, 2013

  • The Peace Committee of Colombia’s Congress launches its second round of Regional Peace Tables, a series of 11 meetings with civil-society representatives in several zones of Colombia. The topic is victims’ rights and participation.

May 3, 2013

  • FARC and Colombian government negotiators in Havana conclude their eighth round of talks. Their joint communiqué indicates that they have a draft agreement on the first agenda item, land tenure and rural development.
  • “The pace of the conversations has been insufficient, inconstant,” lead government negotiator De la Calle tells reporters. “We could have progressed much more.” Lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez says, “We’re advancing. The peace delegation of the FARC feels satisfied with the gains we are making.”
  • In a statement, the FARC react angrily to the idea of having to apologize for abuses that guerrillas have committed. The guerrillas reject the idea of facing Colombian justice after a peace process concludes: “The assassins and their tribunals have no moral authority to judge us,” it reads.

May 2, 2013

  • At the conclusion of a lengthy visit to the United States, Defense Minister Pinzón says that “in my Washington meetings I have found a desire to support President Santos’s process and a will to strengthen the armed forces to accelerate it.”

April 29, 2013

  • On a visit to Bogotá, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Rajiv Shah, says, “On behalf of the United States and of President Obama, we want to reaffirm our commitment for economic support, and to be one of the principal allies for Colombia in its peace process. … As we discussed with the President [Santos], in the government of the United States we are very optimistic that the process is going to be very fruitful, and we are going to continue lending our support. … We are going to respond to all requests that President Santos makes to help and develop this process.” Shah also gives an interview to Colombia’s Semana magazine.

April 28-30, 2013

  • Colombia’s National University and the UN Development Program host a public forum in Bogotá on the topic of the FARC-government dialogues’ second agenda item, “political participation.” 1,265 participants present about 400 proposals for the negotiating teams’ consideration. Topics include electoral reforms, guarantees for opposition parties’ security, women’s participation in politics, and similar issues. “Everything is possible once peace is signed,” the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, says to the forum participants in a recorded video message.
  • Declaration of lead Colombian government negotiator Humberto de la Calle
  • Declaration of FARC negotiating team

April 28, 2013

  • FARC negotiator Andrés Paris tells reporters that a peace accord could bring “an eventual drastic reduction of the official military forces of Colombia,” adding that this is an issue “that we will surely bring up” in the peace talks.

April 24, 2013

  • Colombia’s human rights record comes under scrutiny at a Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Participating countries praise the Colombian government’s decision to seek to end the conflict through negotiations.
  • April 30 FARC negotiating team declaration about Universal Periodic Review
  • FARC issues a document entitled “Four Minimal Proposals for Reform of the State and Democratic and Participative Institutionality.”

April 23, 2013

  • An eighth round of talks between FARC and Colombian government negotiators begins in Havana.
  • “We want results. That is the instruction that we have received from President Santos,” says lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle. “This is a process that cannot be prolonged indefinitely.”
  • Statement from FARC negotiators

April 22, 2013

  • Colombia’s La FM radio network reports that the Colombian government may launch dialogues with the ELN guerrillas during the second week of May.
  • An Ipsos Napoleón Franco poll commissioned by several prominent Colombian news outlets finds 63 percent of Colombians favoring the peace process, up from 57 percent in November. 37 percent disapprove. 52 percent still believe that the process won’t succeed, while 45 believe that an accord and a demobilization from the FARC will result. 69 percent oppose an arrangement in which FARC do not go to prison. 67 percent oppose allowing the FARC to participate in politics after a peace accord.
  • Pro-peace organizations from around Colombia meet in Bogotá for a “Congress of the People.” They call for a new social movement within which civil-society organizations develop “a peace agenda.”
  • FARC message to Congress of the People
  • ELN video message to Congress of the People

April 21, 2013

  • President Santos issues, then quickly withdraws, a proposal to run for a second term of only two years (instead of four) to allow his government to complete peace talks and begin the post-conflict phase. FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo criticizes the episode as leaving “a flavor of improvisation.”

April 19, 2013

  • The Episcopal Peace Council of the Colombian Catholic Church Episcopal Conference issues a statement (PDF) in support of the peace dialogues with the FARC and possible future talks with the ELN.

April 18, 2013

  • 62 members of the U.S. House of Representatives send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing support for the Colombian government’s peace talks with the FARC, urging a greater role for victims, and encouraging the U.S. government to take steps to support the talks and a possible post-conflict transition.
  • April 25 letter from FARC negotiators to the congressional letter’s signers. This letter is the first time that the FARC mention the possibility of a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses, including their own “kidnapping, forced disappearance, recruitment, use of explosives of all kinds.”
  • A joint communiqué announces that the next round of government-FARC dialogues will begin on April 23.

April 9, 2013

  • Pro-peace and victims’ groups, the “Marcha Patriótica” political movement, and the mayor of Bogotá convene a large march in Bogotá in support of the peace process. Estimates of participants range from 200,000 to over a million.
  • President Santos speaks before a military audience and then joins the marchers. “We are not going to diminish the presence of our forces in any corner of our territory” after a peace accord, Santos assures the officers in attendance. “To the contrary, we will need more presence.”
  • FARC negotiators issue a declaration in support of the march.
  • The FARC’s Southern Bloc, which some Colombian analysts speculated was perhaps the guerrilla unit most reluctant to negotiate peace, issues a statement denying that any divisions exist within the FARC, and affirming that it will comply “with the letter” of any accords that are signed.

April 8, 2013

  • Two more FARC negotiators (Laura Villa and Sergio Ibáñez) arrive in Havana after being extracted from a zone in Meta department, in south-central Colombia. This required a temporary suspension of Colombian military activity in this zone.
  • Before the pickup is to happen, former President Álvaro Uribe, a constant critic of the peace talks, posts the coordinates of the zone to his Twitter account. It is believed that this information, known only to a small number of officials, was leaked to Uribe by a member of Colombia’s armed forces. This individual remains unidentified.
  • Speech given by President Santos on the National Day of Memory and Solidarity with Victims of the Armed Conflict

April 7, 2013

  • Pablo Catatumbo, chief of the FARC’s Alfonso Cano (Western) Bloc, arrives in Havana to join the guerrillas’ negotiating team. He is the second member of the group’s seven-person Secretariat, in addition to Iván Márquez, among the negotiators. Analysts speculate that Catatumbo’s addition to the negotiating team may speed the FARC’s decision-making, and may reflect a decision to give greater representation to the guerrilla group’s field commanders. Several other members of the guerrilla negotiators’ support team (Victoria Sandino Palmera, Freddy González, Lucas Carvajal, and others) travel to Cuba as part of the same operation, which required a temporary military pullout from two zones.
  • Declaration of support for the peace process from mayors of the capital cities of Colombia’s departments

April 5, 2013

  • A letter from Colombia’s departmental governors calls the Havana talks “an opportunity toward peace” and calls on Colombians “to participate constructively so that the Havana dialogues advance and conclude successfully.”

April 2, 2013

  • “We haven’t fought our entire lives for peace with social justice and the dignity of Colombians only to end up locked up in the victimizers’ jails,” says lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez.

March 31, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC denies that recently seized drug shipments belong to the guerrilla group, “nor are we narcotraffickers.”

March 30, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators announce that the beginning of the next round of talks, scheduled for April 2, is postponed until the third week of April.

March 25, 2013

  • “We will do everything we have to do, and beyond, to help Colombia to a process of peace, of reconciliation,” says Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s acting president and ruling-party candidate for April 14 presidential elections.
  • “For us, the peace dialogues in Colombia are fundamental because they present us with new potential scenarios, for which we must be prepared,” says Ecuador’s defense minister, María Fernanda Espinosa.

March 24, 2013

  • The Colombian daily El Espectador publishes an interview with Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, maximum leader of the ELN guerrilla group. “A process is going forward between the *compañeros of the FARC and the government, and we’re not even in exploratory dialogues, so it is not possible to talk about a single table. We are willing to accept that reality of two separate tables, valuing the importance of converging down the road.”

March 23, 2013

  • In a video directed to a gathering of “Campesino Reserve Zone” representatives in southern Colombia, chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez says, “We add ourselves to the chorus that demands the formalization of the 9.5 million hectares of land that comprise the new processes of formation of Campesino Reserve Zones.”

March 21, 2013

  • The seventh round of dialogues concludes in Havana.
  • Given the advanced stage of discussions of the first agenda point (land tenue and rural development), the joint declaration reads, “the delegations asked the UN office in Colombia and the National University Center of Thought for Peace to begin preparing a new public forum about the next point on the agenda, ‘political participation,’ to be carried out at the end of next month.”
  • “We continue to advance in the construction of accords within the first agenda point, although there are still several disagreements remaining,” says chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle.
  • According to media reports, one of the principal areas of disagreement is the future extent of “Campesino Reserve Zones,” areas where landholdings are limited in size and cannot easily be bought or sold, and where residents seek a degree of administrative autonomy. Six such zones legally exist in Colombia, covering 831,000 hectares of land. In the negotiations, the FARC are reportedly seeking 9.5 million hectares of campesino reserve zones. (Colombia’s entire land area is 113 million hectares.)

March 19, 2013

  • “If peace is achieved, this country has no limits,” says U.S. Ambassador Peter Michael McKinley. “The fact is, the U.S. government supports every effort to negotiate an end to the Colombian internal conflict.”

March 17, 2013

  • An operation in Cauca department dismantles what Colombia’s army calls one of the FARC’s principal cocaine processing centers. FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda denies that the site belonged to the guerrillas. “Those are inventions. We are a serious, responsible political-military organization. … We aren’t a cartel of narcotraffickers.” Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón responds, “It is ridiculous to doubt that the FARC are narcotraffickers.” On March 19, lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez calls Pinzón a “sharpshooter” against peace efforts.

March 15, 2013

  • “He told us that there are already accords, including some signed, which means that the process is going very positively,” construction executive Pedro Gómez tells reporters following a meeting between President Santos and business leaders.
  • At an event hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, Colombian Congressman Iván Cepeda — part of the group of legislators that visited Havana on March 3 — “conveyed a sense of optimism that the negotiators had reached preliminary agreement on agrarian development policy–the first and largest point of the six-point agenda under discussion—and were preparing to move on to the next agenda item–political participation.”

March 13, 2013

  • Lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez tells reporters that the guerrillas will do “everything possible” to reach a peace accord before the end of the year.
  • “I believe that if the pace of the last few weeks is maintained, and that’s what the negotiators tell me, it is perfectly possible to finish the work in months,” says President Santos.

March 11, 2013

  • The seventh round of peace talks between FARC and government negotiators begins in Havana.

March 6, 2013

  • Several national organizations of conflict victims present a document “to the peace dialogues, to achieve an express commitment, both from the state and from the armed opposition groups, to take actions for truth, justice, reparations and non-repetition guarantees for serious human rights violations, crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes that for decades have beaten down millions and millions of Colombians.”

March 5, 2013

  • The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who played an important behind-the-scenes role in convincing FARC leaders to participate in the talks, adds uncertainty about Venezuela’s future role as an “accompanying country” in the process.

March 4, 2013

  • FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda tells reporters that following a successful peace process, FARC leaders would not run for office, at least not under the current “electoral regime,” which in his view is stacked against leftist candidates.

March 3, 2013

  • The president of Colombia’s Senate and members of both houses’ peace committees begin a two-day visit to Havana to speak with negotiators, including FARC representatives. “After hearing Colombians’ concerns throughout the country, we decided it was time to transmit these doubts and concerns about the timeframe of the process to the negotiators on both sides of the table,” says Senate President Roy Barreras.

March 1, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators complete the sixth round of talks. “We have advanced in the construction of an accord on the following issues: land access and use; unproductive lands; formalization of property; agricultural frontier; and protection of [smallholder] reserve zones,” reads a joint communiqué.
  • “We know we are in a key moment of the dialogues where results are required, this is, accords on the agrarian issue that allow us to continue with the discussion of the other points of the agreed agenda,” says chief government negotiator De la Calle in a generally upbeat statement.

February 28, 2013

  • Despite a sour national mood on the talks, reports the Colombian daily El Espectador, in Havana “The news, to the extent known, is good: there is now a basic document, written jointly by the two negotiating teams, with about five pages on which accords have been reached.”
  • “The FARC guerrillas still have an ethical and moral debt, not to the government but to the population’s right to live in peace,” Vice-President Angelino Garzón tells the Spanish daily El País. “The guerrillas are conspiring against peace and shooting at peace. They cannot keep asking impossible things of the government in a negotiation, like asking for a bilateral cease-fire or that the government allow them to kidnap soldiers and police.”

February 26, 2013

  • FARC negotiators read a statement from the guerrillas’ General Staff (Estado Mayor Central) that says, “It is surprising to hear that if there are no advances in Havana the government will get up from the table, when the FARC have presented more than 40 proposals to speed the process.” The document ends with a call on the government not to “kick aside” (patear) the negotiating table.

February 25, 2013

  • The latest edition of Colombia’s bimonthly Gallup poll brings bad news on public opinion. The percentage of Colombian respondents supporting the FARC talks falls to 62, from 71 in December. The percentage believing that these talks will end the conflict with the FARC falls to 36, from 43 in December. President Santos’s favorability rating falls to 44 percent, from 53 percent in December.
  • “We’re going in a good direction, though I would like it to be faster. So far, things are going well,” President Santos tells the French daily Le Figaro. “I don’t want to give a date, but a process like this cannot last several years. We have advanced in Cuba.”

February 24, 2013

  • “We’ve put together at least two or more pages of an agreement, and this is an advance that had not been achieved in previous processes,” lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez tells Semana magazine columnist María Jimena Duzán.
  • “We support President Santos and his government in the search for peace to finally reach a solution to that terrible conflict with the FARC,” says France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, on a visit to Bogotá.
  • Interview with FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda in the Medellín daily El Colombiano.

February 23, 2013

  • “[T]he people should understand that we are conversing in the midst of conflict, that that is difficult, often contradictory, but that is the route that we deliberately chose,” says President Santos. “At this moment I would have no problem getting up from the table and saying that this is over. But I’m going to make every possible effort so that this doesn’t happen, because just imagine Colombia without that conflict.”
  • The FARC posts a statement laying out “ten minimum proposals” for a rural cadaster.
  • “There is a mix of optimism, fortitude and mistrust,” FARC negotiator Rubén Zamora tells Semana magazine journalist Marta Ruiz, who asked him how rank-and-file guerrillas are viewing the talks. “Optimism over a possible end of the war, fortitude to remain in the jungle if this attempt fails, and fear of being betrayed by the state if they lay down their arms,” Ruiz explains.

February 22, 2013

  • Maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez issues a statement responding to President Santos’s February 20 event distributing lands recovered from the FARC in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá. While alias “Timochenko” recognizes the possibility that the FARC displaced some peasants and must give some land back, he complains that President Santos’s statements in San Vicente — part of the zone that hosted peace talks that failed eleven years earlier that same day — make no mention of the current peace process. “While it’s true that the dialogues have made some important advances toward accords, official attitudes… threaten to mire it in a swamp,” reads the statement. “Let’s get it out of there now, Santos. This narrow and calculated conception of the process threatens to drown it. Let’s save it.”
  • Those who have the peace process stuck are the FARC with their kidnappings and attacks,” responds Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo.

February 18, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators begin a sixth round of talks in Havana on the first agenda item, land and rural development.
  • A Datexco poll shows 67.34% of Colombians surveyed believing that the current peace process with the FARC will not be successful. 20.25% say that they believe it will be successful. 52.87% disapprove of President Santos’s management of the dialogues.
  • The FARC posts a statement laying out “ten minimum proposals” for food security.
  • “Those who are conspiring the most against peace are the FARC guerrillas themselves,” Vice President Angelino Garzón tells the Associated Press. “Amid so many terrorist actions against Colombia’s civilian population, it can’t be built. It is a counter-revolutionary way to face peace.”

February 17, 2013

  • In a statement on the eve of the sixth round of talks, lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says, “We hope to bring good news from Havana. Without generating false expectations, we really believe that there is an opportunity.” De la Calle also acknowledges the difficulty of negotiating while fighting and other acts of violence make headlines, and reiterates the government insistence on sticking to the agreed agenda: “These are not dialogues about all issues that occur to the guerrillas.”

February 15, 2013

  • The FARC releases Víctor Alfonso González and Cristian Camilo Yate, the two police officers captured on January 25 in Valle del Cauca, to a humanitarian commission of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Colombians for Peace.
  • President Santos thanks the visiting president of the European Parliament, Martín Schulz, for his support of the peace process.

February 12, 2013

  • Lead FARC negotiator Iván Márquez sends a letter to Cardinal Rubén Salazar, the maximum authority of the Catholic church in Colombia, inviting him and top bishops to Havana to discuss the peace process. Cardinal Salazar turns down the invitation.

February 11, 2013

  • Speaking before a Colombian military audience, President Santos says, “We have to persevere until peace is achieved, one way or another. One way [peace], we’ll take less time, and I hope it can be done.” He adds that the frequency of FARC attacks has not increased, although “there has been more noise in the media.”

February 10, 2013

  • The fifth round of talks on the first agenda item, land and rural development, concludes in Havana. In a joint communiqué, negotiators from both sides say that there have been “convergences” following an “exhaustive analysis.” The fifth round is to begin on February 18.
  • FARC spokesman Rodrigo Granda says the talks are moving forward “at the speed of a bullet train.”
  • “One thing is what the FARC say in public as part of their platform, which they will be able to defend within democracy if they reintegrate into civilian life. And another thing is what is discussed at the table. We are sticking strictly to the agenda agreed in the General Accord,” says chief government negotiator De la Calle. “We hope that the FARC frees the kidnapped policemen and soldier through a quick process,” he adds. “Once again, we vehemently reject kidnapping. Every act like this is a direct attack on the peace process.”

February 9, 2013

  • The FARC posts a statement laying out “ten minimum proposals” for political recognition of peasant rights and the definition of landholdings.

February 6, 2013

  • The FARC posts a statement laying out “eight minimum proposals” for territorial ordering of agricultural land. These include a proposal for “Legal marijuana, poppy and coca-leaf crops and substitution of illegal crops.”

February 5, 2013

  • “If there is will, I have faith that this year we will achieve peace in this country,” says President Santos. “Making war is harder than making peace.”
  • The FARC sets off two car bombs in Caloto, Cauca department, killing two people and wounding several more.

February 3, 2013

  • In a statement, the FARC high command condemns what it characterizes as “the ultra-right wing’s campaign against the Havana peace process.” The statement insists, “The conversations at the table are proceeding normally, nobody has gotten up or formally threatened to leave. To the contrary, the two sides are working in search of points of convergence on the agrarian issue.”
  • President Santos authorizes Colombia’s Defense Ministry to coordinate the release of the FARC’s two police captives, as well as that of a soldier also captured the previous week.

February 2, 2013

  • The FARC announce that they will release two policemen whom they took captive on January 25 to the International Committee of the Red Cross and Colombians for Peace, a non-governmental group.
  • In a separate statement, the guerrillas attack former President Álvaro Uribe, who has been a vocal critic of the peace talks, as a “pure-blooded paramilitary.” The Colombian government responds with a demand that the FARC “respect the dignity” of Uribe.

January 31, 2013

  • A fifth round of talks between government and FARC representatives begins in Havana.
  • “If the FARC believe that through kidnappings, which they promised that they wouldn’t carry out, they’re going to try to pressure the government to agree to what they aspire to, a cease-fire within the dialogue process, then they’re wrong! To the contrary!” says President Santos.
  • FARC guerrillas free three civilian oil workers whom they had kidnapped in Cauca a day earlier.

January 30, 2013

  • Lead government negotiator De la Calle says, “Things must be called by their names: a kidnapping is a kidnapping, it doesn’t matter whom the victim is. The FARC will have to respond for this act [the capture of two police on January 25], as with all of the thousands of kidnappings they have committed. But they also err radically if they think that with this type of actions, they can obligate the government to agree to a bilateral cease-fire. … We’re going to Havana to end the conflict, which is what we agreed. And if that is not the case, they should tell us at once, so as not to waste the government’s and the Colombian people’s time.”

January 26, 2013

  • At a summit meeting in Chile, President Santos and Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolás Maduro discuss the FARC peace process.

January 25, 2013

  • The FARC captures two policemen in Valle del Cauca department. On January 29, the guerrillas issue a statement affirming their claim to have abandoned kidnapping for ransom, but reiterating their intention to continue holding security-force members whom they capture as “prisoners of war.” The policemen’s capture sends the talks into their most serious crisis to date.

January 24, 2013

  • Government and FARC negotiators conclude the fourth round of talks, which began on January 14th. In a joint statement, negotiators say there have been aproximaciones (movement toward agreement) on some aspects of the land and rural development issue.
  • “We believe there are concrete results in these advances in the land reform proposal,” says FARC negotiator Jesús Santrich. “We believe this is a mambo rhythm. It’s subdued but accelerated.”
  • Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle says that there have been areas of agreement, but also much distance remaining, on the land issue. He reiterates the government’s rejection of a cease-fire.
  • FARC negotiators issue a communiqué laying out their eighth through tenth of ten proposals for land and rural development.

January 23, 2013

  • In an interview with the Communist newspaper Voz, maximum FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez rejects speculation that internal divisions exist within the guerrillas on the subject of peace.
  • FARC negotiators issue a communiqué laying out their sixth and seventh of ten proposals for land and rural development.
  • In a press statement (video, chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez reiterates the guerrillas’ call for a bilateral cease-fire.

January 22, 2013

  • FARC negotiators issue a communiqué laying out their fourth and fifth of ten proposals for land and rural development. These include a proposal to legalize cultivation of coca for “medical, therapeutic, or cultural” use.

January 21, 2013

  • FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda says that while the guerrillas have abandoned their 2-month unilateral cease-fire, they do not plan an all-out offensive as some Colombian security authorities had warned.

January 20, 2013

  • The FARC’s two-month unilateral cease-fire ends on this day with attacks on a pipeline in Putumayo department and a police station in Norte de Santander department. Chief guerrilla negotiator Iván Márquez confirmed on January 9 that the FARC would not prolong the truce. “The unilateral cease-fire … ends on January 20. That’s it,” Márquez again informs reporters on January 14.
  • “The truth is that there was an important reduction in this organization’s number of actions, there was a very important reduction in the number of our soldiers and police killed or wounded. With that we can conclude that there was compliance [with the cease-fire]. But a relative compliance, because there were also actions,” says President Santos.
  • Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said that the FARC carried out 57 attacks during the truce. The Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris think-tank counted 7 to 15 possible attacks.
  • In a statement, FARC negotiators reiterate their call for a constitutional convention to lock any eventual peace accord commitments into permanent law.

January 19, 2013

  • FARC negotiators issue a communiqué laying out their second and third of ten proposals for land and rural development.

January 18, 2013

  • FARC negotiators issue a communiqué critical of Agriculture Minister Restrepo and the role of foreign agribusiness.
  • After kidnapping five mining workers in Bolívar department, the ELN releases a video in which maximum leader Nicolás Rodríguez alias “Gabino” asks, “Why aren’t we at the [negotiating] table? That’s a question for President Santos.”

January 16, 2013

  • FARC negotiator Jesús Santrich says that any peace accord achieved in Havana should be approved by a new constitutional assembly in order to give it “dynamism, construction and legitimacy.” President Santos rejects the constitutional assembly idea, but suggests that an eventual accord could be put up for popular consideration through a referendum.
  • An Ecuadorian border-zone general says he has seen an increase in FARC arms-trafficking activity since the process started. FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda denies it, saying the FARC are instead arming themselves with “much patience and many arguments” for the talks, and blaming “the extreme right in the continent taking shots at the peace process.” Granda also denies rumors that the FARC are internally divided, and says that he hopes the talks can be concluded by November 2013.
  • In a letter [PDF] to Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, FARC negotiators ask that pending legislation regarding land and rural development — the current topic of the talks — be halted.

January 14, 2013

  • A fourth round of talks, focused on the first agenda item, land and rural development, begins in Havana, Cuba.
  • The FARC issue a communiqué echoing the government’s call for a faster pace in the dialogues, and laying out what they say is the first of ten proposals for land and rural development, the current negotiating topic.

January 13, 2013

  • President Santos meets with the government negotiating team in Bogotá, a day before the fourth round of talks is to begin in Havana. Lead negotiator de la Calle gives a mostly upbeat address (video). “We are in deep, concrete discussions” about the rural development agenda topic, he says. “President Santos hopes,” he adds, “that now that we are inaugurating the conversations in this new year, that they take place at a new pace. We need a faster pace (necesitamos más ritmo).”

January 12, 2013

  • Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits Bogotá to discuss the peace process with President Santos. “I’m sure that my government and many of its leaders support the current process,” says Carter. Santos adds that in addition to peace, they discussed the need to “revise and seek alternatives to what has been called the ‘war on drugs.'”

January 9, 2013

  • The United Nations delivers to FARC and government negotiators 11 volumes containing 546 proposals on the issue of land and rural development. The proposals came from the 1,300 participants in a December 17-19 forum, held in Bogotá, to facilitate civil-society participation in the peace process.

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