On Sunday, May 26, the delegates of the Colombian government and the FARC-EP gathered for a joint press conference following their ninth round of talks in Havana to announce that they had reached an agreement they called “Toward a New Colombian Countryside: Integrated Rural Reform“. In my earlier post today, I published the joint press statement in its entirety. An English summary is available in Colombia Reports, a major English-language newspaper out of Medellín. I will be appearing on Al-Jazeera English this evening on their “Inside Story: Americas” for those interested in watching the show. It will be mainstreamed live at 8:30 pm at their website or on your local AJE station. (Here is the updated link).
In the meantime, some notes on this latest agreement and a summary of some of the key points:
1. The parties announced that they have reached agreement on virtually all of the subtopics of the first agenda item, integrated agrarian development, listed in the framework agreement of last August. The agreement on integrated rural reform will not be considered final until the comprehensive agreement has been reached on the remaining five points. Even then, the final peace agreement will need to be endorsed by the Colombian population through a mechanism which has yet to be agreed to by the parties.
2. Some topics may be re-visited at the end of the process, but for now the parties seem satisfied with their agreement, which both sides consider significant and historic.
3. The parties note that the substance of their agreement will be “the beginning of radical transformations of rural and agrarian realities” with “equity and democracy.”
4. The agreement focuses on the “small producer, access and distribution of land, the fight against poverty, the stimulation of agroindustrial production and the revival of the rural economy.” It seeks to even out living conditions between the rural and urban areas.
5. The agreement would create a Fund of Land for Peace, that would grant access to landless and other peasants and will formalize land ownership.
6. The agreement would create mechanisms to resolve conflicts over property rights, granting priority to the common good.
4. The agreement will be accompanied by plans for housing, potable water, technical aid and training, education, adaptation of lands, infrastructure and land recovery.
5. The accord “seeks to reverse the effects of the conflict and to restitute the victims of forced removal and displacement.”
6. The agreement will improve data collection on land ownership and update the land registry; demarcate the agricultural borderlands, protecting areas of environmental interest; and will “seek to “eliminate hunger through a system of feeding (alimentación) and nutrition.”
7. The parties announced that the next round of talks will begin on June 11, when they will begin discussion on the second agenda item in the general framework agreement, political participation.
8. The parties underscored that in the six months of conversations, they have come up with a process for discussing issues that has included plenary sessions, commissions, independent work, and a variety of participatory mechanisms for consulting the citizenry. Since these processes are functioning, they anticipate a more rapid pace for the remaining agenda items.
9. Finally, the parties thanked a variety of supporters, including the United Nations-Colombia, the National University’s Center for Reflection on Peace. They mentioned the important roles of Cuba and Norway, the guarantors; and Chile and Venezuela, the accompanying nations, who have constituted a “group of friends” of the process.