The tremendous reduction of armed clashes in Colombia--between mid-July and mid-August the country experienced the 30 least-violent days in 41 years of an internal war that has lasted more than half a century--has led both parties of the conflict to envision signing a peace accord before the end of the year. President Juan Manuel Santos gave voice to such optimism when he said, "We are living a kind of preview of what a country at peace would be." The internal conflict began in 1964 (NotiSur, March 2, 1989, March 7, 1989, and April 3, 2015).
After 40 rounds of negotiations during 32 months of dialogue in Cuba, the Colombian government and the guerrilla fighters of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) are making arrangements for the international community to help verify compliance once the peace is sealed. Based on the experience of other countries where internal conflicts have been resolved through dialogue, this external assistance is necessary to avoid unwanted failure. In Colombia's optimistic climate, the press has begun to reveal previously unknown details about the role played by the countries that are "guarantors" of the dialogue (Cuba and Norway), "companion" countries (Venezuela and Chile), and countries with discrete proximity (NotiSur, Feb. 18, 2000).
Speaking on the RCN radio network Aug. 12, before the public had heard statistics on the decline in violence from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Colombian Centro de Recursos para el Analisis de Conflictos (CERAC), Santos surprised everyone by saying, "I wouldn't have any problem meeting with Timochenko if that would serve to accelerate the signing of a peace accord." He added that he would not order an attack against, or capture of, Timochenko, the nom de guerre of top FARC leader Rodrigo Londono (NotiSur, Sept. 6, 2013).
These statements assume a radical change in the president's view, understandable only by the progress achieved in the dialogue between the two parties in Havana since November 2012. In the beginning of the peace process, he had said that "security forces have been ordered to capture or kill Timochenko," a statement repeated last April. Nevertheless, faced with the certainty that the voice of the rebel leader is essential, Santos twice this year authorized Timochenko's travel to Cuba so he could speak with the top government negotiators and meet with his fellow guerrillas. "All this," he said, "makes...