BOGOTA – The Colombian government’s delegation to peace talks with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas returned to Cuba on Friday to negotiate changes to a peace deal that was narrowly rejected in an Oct. 2 plebiscite.
“We’ll work steadfastly and quickly to achieve that new agreement as soon as possible,” the government delegation’s chief, Humberto de la Calle, said in a statement at the presidential palace in Bogota.
He acknowledged that it was necessary to “make adjustments and clarifications to the agreement” signed with the FARC on Sept. 26 in the northern city of Cartagena.
The peace negotiators have received various proposals from leaders of the referendum’s “No” campaign, including from the opposition Democratic Center party headed by hardline former President Alvaro Uribe.
Those ideas are “responsible and constructive,” De la Calle said, though adding that he did not necessarily agree with them.
He said proposals had also been received from victims’ associations, former President Andres Pastrana, former Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez and ex-presidential candidate Martha Lucia Ramirez, all of whom opposed the deal put to a vote on Oct. 2.
“We’ve sorted them and thoroughly studied them. In all of them, we’ve found a patriotic spirit to contribute to the discussion,” De la Calle added.
Even so, he said commitments reached with the FARC in areas such as recovering war-torn rural areas, providing redress to victims and delivering justice should not be abandoned.
“We’re pleased to notice that no one has opposed the search for a peace agreement. Indeed, despite the objections, we’ve found broad acceptance of the agreement in general,” the chief negotiator said.
De la Calle also said he was pleased that a new bilateral cease-fire instituted after the “No” campaign won the plebiscite was holding, although he cautioned that the situation remains “fragile.”
A new accord needs to be hammered out quickly and efficiently not only to meet the wishes of the majority of Colombians but also to prevent a resurgence of violence,” he said.