Colombia must advance talks with armed groups to secure peace -truth commission president

·2 min read
Francisco de Roux, President of the Truth Commission attends an interview with Reuters in Bogota

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's armed conflict will only end when the 2016 peace deal with the now-demobilized FARC guerrillas is properly implemented and peace talks with other armed groups and gangs make progress, the president of the Andean country's peace commission said.

The truth commission was established as part of the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels during negotiations in Cuba's capital, Havana.

The agreement also included plans to reform agriculture, guarantees for political participation and alternatives for illicit drug crops.

"We have to start by making reparations to all the victims," truth commission president Francisco de Roux told Reuters late on Tuesday, adding that Colombia must implement comprehensive social reform and political transformation, as agreed in Havana.

As well as implementing the peace deal with the demobilized FARC, Colombia must also make progress in talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), another leftist guerrilla group, and FARC dissidents who reject the 2016 deal, de Roux, a Jesuit priest, said.

The truth commission's final report, which de Roux presented earlier on Tuesday, found that drug trafficking and the war on drugs have contributed to the degradation and extension of the conflict into one of total war.

The commission also recommended Colombia implement substantial changes in drug policy with a focus on regulation, and urged the country to lead a global conversation addressing policy changes.

From 1985 to 2018, 450,664 people were killed in the conflict, according to the truth commission, while 55,770 were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018.

More than 7.7 million people were displaced from 1985 to 2019 and 121,768 were disappeared between 1985 and 2016, it added.

"We found that 80% of the total victims were civilians," de Roux said, adding that the conflict was prolonged by Colombians' resistance to recognize what was happening, while becoming accustomed to living in conflict.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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