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February 12 2014 | ROME, ITALY

Colombia, peace negotiations at a turning point

The appeal of Sant'Egidio "Peace Now", signed by international personalities, encourages the government and the guerrillas to move forward in dialogue

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Colombia, la pace subito

ROME - "Peace now": the call for the resumption of dialogue between the Colombian government of president Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrillas, promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio and signed by eminent international personalities including two Nobel laureates, was shown at a press conference by President of Sant'Egidio Marco Impagliazzo and Riccardo Cannelli, head of the Community in Colombia. The date chosen for the press conference is the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, a bloody scourge that also affects the South American country.

For the first time, after fifty years of bloody guerrilla warfare and fourteen months of negotiations they see a way out of the internal conflict that tears Colombia and that has so far resulted in two hundred thousand dead and three million internally displaced people in a country three times the size of Italy and that has 47 million inhabitants. The ongoing negotiations in Havana between the government of president Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrillas of the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) have reached an agreement in principle on the first two points of an agenda that has a total of five: the agricultural reform and the future political role of the guerrillas once arms have been laid down. The parties are preparing now to deal with the particularly sensitive chapter of the reconversion of the huge drug crops planted in the areas controlled by the FARC.
"The negotiations are at a turning point - said Marco Impagliazzo -; and our appeal aims to express solidarity and encouragement so that peace dialogue continues beyond the events of the political  and presidential elections scheduled in March and May respectively, in the conviction that the necessity of finding a final agreement is now a common acquisition. After the failure of previous negotiations and once established the impracticability of a military way out of the conflict, the convergence of both contenders on the commitment to seek formulas of understanding on controversial items gives us hope”.

The call for "peace now" launched by the Community of Sant'Egidio intends to respect the autonomy of the negotiators and is not intended to interfere in the internal affairs of the country: for this reason the membership was requested to high-level international personalities that, however, do not exercise executive functions. Among the signatories , besides founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio Andrea Riccardi and Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, former presidents Jacques Chirac of France and Mario Soares of Portugal, former Secretary General of UNESCO Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former IMF director Michel Camdessus, and Italians Massimo D'Alema and Franco Frattini. "Peace-building takes time, said Marco Impagliazzo,
but there are the foundations and dialogue is the only way to go”.

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