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The new leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Timoleón Jiménez has reiterated what his predecessor, the late Alfonso Cano, called for: the urgent resumption of peace talks. These talks should be based on the Common Agenda that was agreed on during the last phase of negotiations with the government of Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002). This Agenda included the following points: 1) Reconsidering the neoliberal economic model that Colombia has embraced since the early 1990s; 2) The role of foreign capital and the multinational corporations; 3) Reforming the military and its national security doctrine 4) Land reform; 5) Environmental degradation; and 6) Judicial and state reforms.
The current government of Juan Manuel Santos faces the daunting task of continuing a war that is becoming too costly to sustain, despite intense pressures from conservative elements among the dominant classes—chiefly the cattle ranchers and the landed elite, and their allies within the armed forces. More importantly, however, the United States must change its position toward favoring a peaceful solution. This is the white elephant whose role has been omnipresent yet underappreciated by analysts of war and peace in Colombia.
There will be no peace in Colombia without a serious change in the course of U.S. policy that can put pressure on the Colombian military. Due to its role as the main funders of the Colombian military machine, the United States is the only entity that can put pressure on the Colombian government and other potential spoilers, such as former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez and his entourage of reactionary forces. Since the 1960s the U.S. role has been instrumental in propping up the Colombian government in this war, and even more so with Plan Colombia, which transformed the Colombian Military to the cost of $7 billion.
Consequently, the United States is in an unparalleled position to bring peace in Colombia. But, given that the United States is entering an electoral coma during which most major foreign policy matters, such as this one, will likely be put on hold. The FARC initiative will then mostly likely have to wait until 2013. In the meantime Colombians will have to brace for more war.