Victims’ issues come to the fore in Colombia peace talks

August 11, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

BOGOTA: Farmer Elver Montano has a long tale of pain and uprooting to tell as Colombia’s peace talks turns  to the 5.3 million victims of Latin America’s longest armed conflict.

His eyes well with tears as he recalls the day, March 22, 2007, when a military operation forced him to abandon all his belongings in the town of El Charco. “There were 8,500 of us who just had to run for it, during a clash between the army and the FARC,” he said.

Montano’s fate, and those of other civilian victims of the conflict, will finally get a hearing when negotiators sit down in Havana August 12 to begin discussions of how they should be compensated for their loss.

It is the latest chapter in peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government that have been underway since November 2012.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people since 1958, according to the National Center for Historical Record, which estimates than more than 80 percent have been civilians.

The attempt to close the book on the conflict has already reached consensus on aspects like the reintegration of the guerrillas to political life, rural development policies, and drug trafficking, which has helped fuel the conflict.