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    Dialogue in Colombia Welcomed

    By Manuel Yepe

    An old saying tells us that “it is always darker before dawn.”

    This is what’s happened in Colombia where, to the surprise of many and the confusion of others, it was revealed that an agreement has been reached to hold exploratory peace talks aimed at a peace dialogue between the revolutionary anti-imperialist guerrillas and the government of the nation that has enjoyed the most privileged relationship with the superpower in the North.

    Most certainly, Colombia’s internal war –basically of a class origin- became more and more complicated each day along the half century of its existence, bringing along with it the corrupting and criminal behavior of drug trafficking and the terrorist actions of paramilitary bands.

    Because of drug trafficking, Colombia has received many millions of US dollars through Plan Colombia, thus becoming the third highest recipient of foreign aid in the world, just after Israel and Egypt (not including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    It is known that the CIA has links with the Colombian army and with security forces that cooperate with paramilitary groups well involved in drug trafficking.

    Last year, with the proposition of putting an end to drug trafficking, Washington and Bogota signed an agreement to establish seven military bases in Colombian territory. They constitute a threat to stability and sovereignty in the region. These military bases have as their center the Palenquero air base, in the heart of Colombia.

    Due to the alarming complicity of political, police, military and higher business sectors in this South American nation with organized crime and the very US agencies that should verify the proper use of aid given to combat drug trafficking, Colombia has been considered a narco-state with many of its government structures having been penetrated by powerful organized crime groups.

    Sponsored by public officials, great landowners, businesspeople and corrupt military officers, a number of paramilitary groups were formed and terrorized farmers to guarantee impunity for drug dealing operations with the justification of holding a campaign against the Colombian revolutionary guerrilla.

    In recent days, from Casa de Nariño, President Juan Manuel Santos offered details about the exploratory talks to promote a peace dialogue between his government and FARC, and announced the Acuerdo General para la Terminación del Conflicto en Colombia [General Agreement to End the Conflict in Colombia]

    “This agreement is not yet peace, neither is it a final agreement. It is a road map that defines with precision the terms for a discussion to reach a final agreement,” said the President.

    For his part, FARC’s supreme leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, known as Timochenko, declared that he “came to sit at the negotiation table with no grudges or arrogance”

    A FARC representative said nothing will be easy in the process, but “there is nothing that could not be discussed or have a solution at the negotiation table to reach an agreement.” The Diálogos de Paz [Peace Talks] will start on October 8, in Oslo, Norway, and will later continue in Havana, Cuba. The rebels declared that the FARC “has never been a military machine and from its origins “has been a guerrilla force with broad popular support.”

    Expressions of satisfaction for this promising Acuerdo General para la Terminación del Conflicto immediately came from every corner in the world, with the marked –but expected- exceptions of Colombian ex-President Álvaro Uribe and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, who is the usual voice of the Miami Cuban extreme-right in the USA Congress.

    President Santos expressed thanks to the governments of Cuba and Norway for their support in the preparations for these negotiations, and announced that these two countries will continue acting as hosts and guarantors in the second phase.

    He also acknowledged the open offer from the Venezuelan government to grant its support for the development of the previous work and thanked the Chilean government for having accepted to support the following phase when Venezuela and Chile will act as accompanying countries.

    Certainly this is a clear example of the strength irradiating from the budding Bolivarian unity for Latin American countries which is beginning to promise the realization of the dreams of their peoples.

    September, 2012.

    * A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippman.

    * Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba's ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.

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