Santos Invites FARC to Join Drug Fight as First Peace Agreement Signed

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President Juan Manuel Santos has asked the FARC to work with the state in combating drug trafficking as the guerrillas and the Colombian government reached their first agreement during peace talks in Havana.

The agreement, titled “Towards a new Colombian countryside: Integrated rural reform” (“Hacia un nuevo campo colombiano: Reforma rural integral”) is based on the first of six peace talk agenda points – land reform -, and deals with issues of land access and rural social and economic development. As part of this, it will address the displaced and those who have had lands stolen during the conflict.

President Santos expressed satisfaction with this first step, and then raised the possibility of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) joining the fight against drug trafficking, asking them to clarify the role they would play if a final agreement were to be reached at the peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

The next round of talks, which have been underway since October 2012, will begin June 11, and will take up the second agenda point, the political participation of the rebel group.

InSight Crime Analysis

Illicit drugs are the fourth point on the the current peace talk agenda. Preventing FARC criminalization during the talks or after an agreement is reached is a major concern, and Santos’ proposal to draw the FARC in to the fight against drug trafficking suggests one possible way to try and avoid this, although it would be difficult to implement.

Despite the fanfare surrounding agreement on the first point of the agenda, in reality this is just one small step towards peace. Both parties have decided that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, and with the far trickier issues of political participation, demobilization and disarmament remaining,  the present land reform agreement is, for now, more symbolic than concrete. 

However, it does represent a timely and much needed political boost for President Juan Manuel Santos. The president has staked his political reputation on talks and with the official announcement of his decision to run for reelection next year imminent, he desperately needed to show progress to an increasingly sceptical public.

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