BOGOTA – Several of Colombia’s political groups on Saturday described as “historic” the fact that victims of the country’s armed conflict are at the center of peace talks in Havana between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the first time in 50 years there has been an acknowledgment of victims by this armed group.
Ex-presidential candidate Clara Lopez of the leftist PDA party hailed the decision to provide a place for victims at the peace talks.
“This is an extraordinary step forward in the peace process, and we receive it with delight because it was a point in my campaign, the need for victims to be invited to the negotiation table in Havana,” said Lopez, who now supports the campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos for reelection next June 15.
Lopez added that “we celebrate with joy the agreement because it is a very important step toward closing Colombia’s victim factory.”
Liberal ex-President Cesar Gaviria (1990-1994), head of the Santos campaign, attributed the progress in the peace negotiations to the work of the current president.
“The decision to include victims at the table in Havana is the result of work by Santos in recent years – nobody can say it’s opportunism,” Gaviria said with reference to the fact that the announcement comes just a week before the runoff election.
Gaviria said the fact “that the FARC make the move to acknowledge the same victims that they themselves have caused in the conflict is a fundamental move toward leaving the war behind.”