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Waging Peace in Colombia

BOGOTÁ – Colombians are close to bringing to an end the oldest and only remaining armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. After more than five years of negotiations with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), we can say that we have reached an irreversible phase that will put an end to more than 50 years of a cruel and costly war.

All of my predecessors over the past five decades attempted to make peace with the FARC, the largest and oldest guerrilla army to have emerged in Latin America. They all failed. So why has this peace process proved successful?

Above all, this has been a well-planned and carefully executed process that began when we achieved certain conditions. First, we had to change the correlation of military forces in favor of the Colombian state. Second, we had to convince the FARC’s leaders that it was in their own personal interest to enter serious negotiations and that they would never achieve their objectives through violence and guerrilla warfare.

Last but not least, we implemented a radical change in our foreign policy, which led to an improvement in our relations with our neighbors and the rest of the region. This facilitated their support of our initiative and thus the beginning of the peace process.