March 11, 2014
Mujica offers to mediate in Colombia talks
MONTEVIDEO — Uruguayan President José Mujica announced yesterday that he will meet with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos and representatives of FARC in Cuba next week and that he intends to help peace negotiations move forward.
The rebels and the Colombian government have been negotiating for the last 15 months an end to a bloody armed conflict that has lasted five decades.
“I will stay for a couple of days after the (CELAC) summit. And I will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos and with FARC,” Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter himself, said yesterday acording to Uruguayan magazine Búsqueda.
The president will travel to Cuba to participate in the Celac summit alongside his Foreign Relations minister, Luis Almagro.
Mujica told Búsqueda that he wants “to continue helping concretely for the negotiation to move forward and to give them moral support. I want them to feel that the cause deserves everyone’s support,”
“Never before were the two sides as close to peace as they are now. And that deserves all the support,” he highlighted.
The Latin American and Caribbean Community of States (CELAC) meeting will be held on January 28 and 29 in Cuba.
The Uruguayan president has become one of the main supporters of peace talks in Colombia and has already met with Santos and with representatives of FARC. During a visit to Rome, he even urged Pope Francis to get involved.
Mujica was part of the Tupamaro guerrilla in Uruguay during the 60s and 70s and spent 14 years in prison during the country’s dictatorship.
Also yesterday, FARC rebels proposed that the Colombian government recognize and stimulate the lawful uses of marijuana, coca and poppy plantations and argued that the initiative could generate jobs and revenue for Colombia.
Although the two sides have reached partial agreements on agrarian reform and the participation of FARC rebels in politics after an eventual peace deal, they seem to be stuck on one of the most conflictive points on the talks’ agenda: the country’s entrenched drug war.
As a new round of talks came to an end yesterday, the two sides only said that negotiations would resume on February, 3 but gave no further details.
News agency EFE reported on the rebels’ plan to “stimulate the nutritional, medicinal, therapeutic, artisanal, industrial and cultural uses of coca, marijuana and poppy,” presented yesterday in Havana. According to a statement read by FARC member Jesús Carvajalino, a.k.a Andrés París, the proposal “to recognize and stimulate” the legal uses of the seeds includes regulation by the Colombian government.
The rebels consider that the plantation and the “artisanal and industrial processing” of coca, marijuana and poppy “could become part of the country’s agricultural activity and generate jobs and revenue.”
The production and processing of the plants could be part of “alternative development plans” designed by producers but will be regulated and directed by the state.
According to FARC, both scientific studies and “ancestral practices” have shown that the plantations have multiple qualities and the general population should be informed about them.
The Colombian government estimates that there are around 68,000 small farmers dedicated to growing coca.
Herald with Télam, AP