In celebration of the first day in a new round of peace talks, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) told the country’s government they were calling a cease fire between last night and January 20, CNN reports.Representatives from both sides are meeting in Havana, Cuba, to try to bring an end to 50 years of war that plague the country. The Colombian government wants FARC to stop kidnapping people and attacking the nation’s oil and mining infrastructures, or legal money-makers. FARC, which began as a Marxist organisation, wants the government to give land back to peasants.
The peace conversation started in Norway in October. The last time the two sides met was in 2002, under then-president Andrés Pastrana. He ceded land to the rebels, which they used for coca farming. Earlier, in the 1980s, thousands of FARC members joined a new political party, only to get massacred by paramilitary troops.
Despite saying they fight for “the people,” most of the people of Colombia would like FARC to knock it off. Bloomberg reports that a Gallup Colombia poll found President Juan Manuel Santos’ approval ratings are up, and that while 72 per cent of those polled back the talks, only 39 per cent think they’ll accomplish anything.
The rebels attacks on oil and mining, which have tripled to 142 this year, are costing Colombia at least 1 to 2 percentage points of revenue a year. If foreign companies believed the country was safe, it could see 6 to 7 per cent growth every year.
Santos’ has said he won’t halt military operations until an agreement is reached. FARC doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to promising peace: aside from the attacks on oil and mining, they launched a mortar at a clinic in July and are probably responsible for an explosion that killed five soldiers two days after the October peace talks.
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