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News > Latin America

FARC Leader: Peace Deal Overwhelmingly Supported by Guerrillas

  • Ivan Marquez led the peace negotiations with Colombian authorities in Havana, Cuba for the FARC-EP.

    Ivan Marquez led the peace negotiations with Colombian authorities in Havana, Cuba for the FARC-EP. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 September 2016

The historic Guerrilla Conference is the FARC-EP's decision-making center that creates political and military strategies and could be the last of its kind.

Ivan Marquez, head of the peace delegation for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, shared his optimism about the general support the deal received within the rebels' ranks Sunday, the second day of the 10th National Guerrilla Conference.

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“We are feeling a very strong support for all the work we've done in Havana,” where the peace negotiations with the Colombian government took place, said the FARC-EP leader during the conference, which marks the group's transition into a political entity.

“So far, all we've heard is a total support for the content of the final agreement,” he added, denying any signs of dissidence within the rebel group.

This year’s conference runs from Sept. 17 to 23 in Llanos del Yari, a town in an Indigenous region of southern Colombia that is home to several campesino movements. The event has criticized by right-wing movements in the country and former presidents.

Some 200 delegates, 29 members of FARC-EP's top leadership, about 50 guests and 350 journalists are attending the conference, where it is expected that the members of the FARC-EP will vote on each part of the peace agreement.

The agreement is “a world reference for conflict solutions,” Marquez highlighted.

The final peace agreement will be signed on Sept. 26 in a ceremony held in Cartagena de Indias after almost four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and the rebels held in Havana, Cuba.

About the transition into a political movement, Marquez said the rebel group was heading toward that direction, but that the group will still have to define the global perspective and its name.

“It's not a process that we will solve in two years,” he added. In his opinion, the challenge for the FARC-EP is to convert typically left-wing broad principles into “specific projects.”

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The rebels are also expected to announce in the coming days their representatives, who will be able to discuss the implementation of the agreement in congress without voting.

Political prisoners were also attending the conference as President Juan Manuel Santos gave a special authorization—a “gesture of trust” that Marquez warmly welcomed.

The peace accords will then be put to a plebiscite on Oct. 2 that will ask Colombians whether or not they accept the final deal. If it wins, the agreement could end the over five-decade-long conflict that has killed over 220,000 people and displaced some 6.3 million others.

The Guerrilla Conference is the decision-making center for the armed group and also creates political and military plans and strategies, which direct the revolutionary process inside the group.

There were nine such conferences from 1965 until 2007, and this year's event could be the last of its kind for the armed group, as they transition into electoral politics.

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