C&B Notes

FARC At The Table

Will Columbia finally get past its violent history?

Colombia’s leader warned that violence in the country could rise over the coming months as soldiers and communist guerrillas fight for advantage on the battlefield while their proxies begin peace talks to end the country’s half-century-old conflict.  In an interview Thursday at the presidential palace, President Juan Manuel Santos said that holding talks with Latin America’s biggest and oldest insurgency is well worth the risk of failure because an end to the conflict would not only would end bloodletting, but also bring a “peace dividend” of up to 2% additional economic growth a year to the Andean nation’s economy.  It already enjoys annual growth of about 5%… “I don’t discard the possibility that violence could increase,” Mr. Santos said.  “That’s why I’ve asked the Colombian people to have patience, grit and strength.”  But, Mr. Santos said, Colombian armed forces are in good position to “control any terrorist acts.”  He said that he rejected the FARC’s cease-fire proposal and that Colombia’s military would continue to fight the FARC even as talks develop.

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Colombian officials say the expected rise in economic growth from a peace deal would come from more foreign investment, higher productivity and a refocus of defense spending toward more productive areas.