Colombia’s Rebels and Land Reform
Colombia’s stubborn insurgencies are creeping out of the jungle and to the negotiating table. Against the backdrop of recent intense fighting, the government of Colombia and the largest insurgent group that seeks to topple it — the FARC — have agreed to begin negotiations to end the nearly 50-year old conflict. They will begin talks in Oslo on Oct. 17.
The discussions will be hard enough in the absence of a cease-fire. They won’t be made any easier by the challenging issues on the agenda. If the government of Colombia and the FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — are to make headway, they’re going to have to tackle the ever-difficult issue at the top of the list: land reform. It is not only key to resolving the conflict, it is also, in the words of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, the cornerstone of efforts to “seed peace.”
Land reform was intractable at the time when the FARC began their struggle in 1964, and it remains a vexing issue today. Colombian society is still plagued by severe economic inequality, insecurity and grievances.