Peace negotiations in Colombia in critical state

FARC leader arrested in the United States adheres to the peace agreement under negotiation in the country

by Renata Giraldi *

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, received on Thursday evening (27th) a delegation considered relevant to the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Juvenal Ovidio, Ricardo Palmera (pictured), known as Simon Trinidad, touted as one of the guerrilla leaders, said he was willing to negotiate with the authorities to end the confrontations with the government.

Prisoner in the United States, Simón Trinidad appeared in an audience at a hearing in the Specialized Criminal Court in Valledupar, in the northeast of Colombia to address the crimes of kidnapping and killing of Navy Lieutenant Alvaro Morris. He told the audience that he is willing to "collaborate" to "end violence in the country."

The Attorney General of the Nation of Colombia, Eduardo Montealegre, said the government can accept the support of Simón Trinidad and integrate it to the negotiating table. But the arrest warrants issued against him cannot be suspended.

His defense has argued that Trinidad's "agreement"-a conspiracy is essentially an agreement to commit a crime-was limited to taking a letter from FARC commander Raul Reyes to Ecuador, to present to James LeMoyne, a UN official who had brokered FARC's negotiations with the government of President Andres Pastrana. Trinidad didn't have the mens rea, or guilty mental state, had never made any demand for the prisoners' release, had no say in whether they ever would be released, and has never even seen the prisoners.

Putting Trinidad's name on the table means Colombian and US authorities will have to make a decision on how to treat the FARC leaders:
On September 27, Santos confirmed the resumption of negotiations between the government and FARC to try to put an end to the armed conflict. Two days ago, during the UN General Assembly, the President reiterated the efforts made in the search for peace in the region. For nearly half a century, guerrillas have been operating in Colombia to improve conditions. For Santos, the ongoing negotiations do not endanger public safety.

Through negotiations, the government and FARC agreed to undertake to comply with seven points, to facilitate  the reintegration of fighters into civilian life, rural development, guarantees for the participation of the opposition, the end of armed conflict, the fight against drug trafficking, to ensure the rights of victims and conducting trials of those involved in killings, kidnappings and torture.

On February 8, there will be a meeting in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegians, Chileans, Colombians and Venezuelans mediate agreements between the Santos government and the command of FARC. At a news conference, issued two days ago, President Dilma Rousseff praised the initiative and Santos expressed confidence in the results of the negotiations.

* With information from multistate television station, Telesur

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey