May 24, 2013
Colombia peace talks take a break, no major advances reported
FARC rebels and the Colombian government adjourned their latest round of peace talks today with no major advances toward ending their long conflict and said they had significant differences to overcome despite some areas of agreement.
They said they agreed that the lives of the country's rural poor must be improved, which is the key issue in their 50-year-long war, but not on how to go about it.
"The conversations advance in a climate of respect and of broad dialogue," government lead negotiator Humberto de la Calle said after leaving today's negotiations in Havana. "There are similarities in the desire to transform the countryside, although there remain notable differences."
The government and the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, are in their third month of talks to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced several million others over the decades.
The FARC is Latin America's longest-running leftist insurgency. A vestige of the Cold War, it was founded in 1964 as a communist agrarian movement to fight Colombia's long history of social inequality, particularly the concentration of most of the country's land in a few hands.
The government and the FARC both believe it is important for the rural poor to have land to work, but FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez said the rebels would like to get it from cattle ranchers.
He told a news conference that ranchers had 40 million hectares of land, or almost 100 million acres, half of which could be given to the poor.