Colombia, FARC reach agreement on agrarian reform

Reuters, HAVANA

Tue, May 28, 2013 - Page 7

Colombia and the Marxist-led Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reached agreement on the critical issue of agrarian reform, the two sides said on Sunday, in a major step forward for the peace process aimed at ending their long war.

They said the accord called for the economic and social development of rural areas and providing land to the people living there, which addresses one of the main issues that led the FARC to form in 1964 as a communist agrarian reform movement and launch its insurgency.

Lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said that the agreement would take effect only if an overall peace accord is achieved, which has been the guiding principle of the talks since the beginning.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said.

De la Calle said it would represent “a historic change, a rebirth of the Colombian countryside.”

The government promised to build up services and infrastructure in rural areas as it tries to end the country’s long history of social and economic inequality.

“What we have agreed to in this accord will be the beginning of radical transformations in the rural and agrarian reality of Colombia, with equity and democracy,” said the joint statement, which was read at the end of the ninth round of the talks, which began on Nov. 19 in Havana.

The rebels warned that “certain points” in the agrarian reform accord “necessarily will have to be retaken before the completion of the final agreement,” but said a path was being opened for “the people to act, to mobilize themselves in defense of their rights.”