BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that he hopes the FARC guerrillas hear the international clamor for peace in this country expressed by the leaders participating in the 7th Summit of the Americas held over the weekend in Panama.
At that gathering, Santos received the support of the majority of the participating presidents and prime ministers, who praised his efforts to achieve peace in the ongoing dialogue his government has been holding since November 2012 in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
“I hope that the FARC hear that here there is a golden opportunity. Opportunities come and go and I hope we can move forward quickly,” said the president on the weekly program “Agenda Colombia” broadcast on Mondays by the President’s Office.
Santos acknowledged that the FARC, as a result of its history of violence, still “generates a lot of skepticism” across large sectors of Colombian society, but he said he was confident that insofar as the peace talks move forward “that skepticism is being diluted.”
“That skepticism is normal. People don’t believe in the FARC’s goodwill. A lot of people still believe that they’re not going to make peace and that generates a lack of support” for the negotiation process, he said.
The president said that this was a “normal” state of affairs given that “after 50 years of war there are many wounds we have to heal.”
Santos emphasized that the FARC also must understand that the parties must assume “some kind of transitional justice” to respect the rights of the victims of the conflict “because we’re not going to have the support of the international community in any other way” for a prospective peace accord.
The peace talks in Havana are currently focusing on the victims, who are demanding truth, justice, reparations and a guarantee that the violence they suffered will not be repeated.
“We have to be creative, audacious within certain parameters, and here is where we need the support of the international community,” said Santos, who added that obtaining that support will “give legitimacy to any decision we make.”