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On January 14 the negotiators from the Juan Manuel Santos’s administration and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) resume their discussion of the agrarian question. The government is insisting on concluding this segment by spring, while the FARC refuses to apply a time frame to reach an agreement on the thorniest issue of this 49-year-long conflict. It is understandable why Santos is in a hurry. He is under political pressure to show results by summer or by fall in order to bolster his re-election bid in the upcoming presidential race in 2014.
The FARC, aware of the pressures on Santos, is not likely to eschew the structural reform of the land tenure system that it considered the cornerstone for social justice and lasting peace. One must add that revisiting the land tenure system and the current land use is pivotal for the country’s sustainable economic development and food security. I am not sure if the government is either willing or capable to reconsider the current rentier model of economic development that is based on large-scale bio-fuel crops (African Palm, sugar cane), extractive sector (oil, coal, gold), and land speculation.
One final but critical contextual point has to be considered. Because of natural resources, extension in Amazonia, fertile lands, and biodiversity, Colombia's geostrategic location places this country as a major world player, according to a recent National Intelligence Council’s study titled Global Trends 2030. This study lists Colombia, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, and Nigeria after China, India, and Brazil as candidates to play a major role in the future global economy. Then one might ask, how could Colombia reconcile between what the global forces of capitalism and the international security regime is crafting for its future with its current focus on fostering peace? Or would Colombia forgo its chance for peace, choosing to coexist with the insurgency rather than making the structural changes that FARC, other progressive forces, and the peasants of Colombia are calling for—changes that might alter the economic course or pace of the country’s integration into the global economy.
The answer will come before the end of 2013. Happy New Year!
See an update on the FARC's agrarian reform proposal presented on Monday 14, 2013:http://www.eltiempo.com/politica/debate-por-reforma-agraria-propuesta-por-farc_12514342-4; https://www.anncol.eu/index.php/colombia/insurgencia/farc-ep/comunicados...
Nazih Richani is the Director of Latin American studies at Kean University. He blogs at nacla.org/blog/cuadernos-colombianos.