The parties completed their tenth round of talks in Havana on Friday, June 21, and issued their first joint report on the status of the negotiation process. The report is a detailed accounting of the peace talks thus far, and gives an indication of the progress that has been made in establishing a methodology and process for addressing substantive issues during the peace talks.
The report discusses the mechanisms for communications that have been established (including the issuing of 17 joint communiqués), and chronicles in some detail the activities that the parties have carried out during the ten rounds of talks. The table measures its progress against the road map set out in the framework agreement last August, and in particular demonstrates the ways that the table has sought to ensure that the process both generates and incorporates citizen inputs. It notes for example that citizens who presented proposals can check to see if their proposals were read by those staffing the table. One gets a sense of the intricacies of the division of labor at the table, which has included the formation of subcommittees and working groups.
Much of what the report contains will not be new to those who have been following the process, but the report does its part in countering a perception presented by many in the media that the process is taking too long and not producing much movement. Perhaps most significantly, the report underscores the achievement of an agreement on the first agenda item, rural agrarian reform, provides additional substance to what has been agreed to on that front, and notes that a full agreement on the entire agenda is anticipated in the coming months (“en los próximos meses”). The next round of talks will begin on July 1, and will continue to focus on the theme of political participation.
New Details on the Agrarian Agreement
In the report, the parties provides new details on the agrarian agreement. The joint statement spells out the rationale and the thinking that led to the particular provisions:
“Integral Rural Reform must be the beginning of the structural transformation of the rural agrarian context in Colombia, with equity and democracy, and thus contribute to the non-repetition of the conflict and the construction of a stable, lasting peace. Integrated Rural Reform is based on the well-being of rural people, of the peasant, indigenous, Black, Afrodescendent, palenquera and raizal communities, and of those who live in interethnic and intercultural spaces and seek the integration of the regions, the eradication of poverty, the promotion of equality, the closing of the gap between the countryside and the city, the protection and enjoyment of the rights of citizenship, and the reactivation of the countryside, especially the family and community-based peasant economy.”
Some of the provisions to enact this transformation include measures for the distribution of lands and formalization of land titles, and the formalization and updating of the rural land registry (catastro rural). These changes are expected to generate taxes and funding for the municipalities (provisions that may find opposition among some of the landed sectors that have benefitted from the lack of such registries), and should increase investment and improve land use.
The parties’ plan also calls for delimiting the agricultural frontier and establishing protected environmental zones, and call for the “implementation of national plans by sector to reduce poverty and inequality through infrastructure, irrigation, health, education, housing, incentives for an economy based on solidarity, social security, income generation, commercialization, technical assistance, science and technology, credits, food self-sufficiency and nutrition.
Finally, the Government announced that it considers that this integral rural reform should “contribute to reversing the damaging effects of the conflict”. The FARC, for its part, considers that it should “contribute to solving the historic causes of the conflict.”