Monday, July 20, 2015

Negotiating With the FARC

A Colombian friend asked my opinion of the FARC negotiations. I said I thought the negotiations would in fact work out--she disagreed and thought Colombians would tire of the continued FARC attacks. But here is my logic:

--the FARC really wants it. In my opinion, the attacks can be attributed primarily to positioning (i.e. showing strength) or are isolated to units that have autonomy because of its decentralized structure. That's why they called another unilateral ceasefire and released a prisoner.

--President Santos really wants it. This is his legacy, pure and simple. He will have gone from someone perceived as Alvaro Uribe's puppet to the president who finally ended the war.

--the Colombian people strongly support the effort (see this extensive Gallup poll). The devil is always in the details, and the FARC could potentially overplay its hand with too many attacks, but overall Colombians support the negotations.

--President Obama supports it. It is not a major issue for Obama, but he's publicly supportive (including a State Department statement just last week) and it would buttress his own overtures to Cuba given where the talks are taking place.

There are plenty of wrenches that could be thrown into this process, but at the moment the key signs are positive. Or at least as positive as you're likely to get.


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