State Building and Conflict Resolution in Colombia, 1986-1994

By Harvey F. Kline | Go to book overview

6
Negotiations between the Government and the Guerrilla Groups

In this chapter I analyze the efforts of the César Gaviria government to negotiate a cease-fire with the Coordinadora Guerrillera Simón Bolívar in 1991 and 1992 and with parts of the CGSB after 1992. As I have shown previously, the Gaviria government negotiated in light of two different precedents: (1) for cease-fires, without concessions on either side, under the Belisario Betancur government and (2) for demobilization and surrender of arms in return for political rights and economic assistance under Virgilio Barco.


Prelude to Negotiation with the Guerrilla Groups

Referring to the guerrilla groups in his inaugural speech, President Gaviria stated that the transformations in the Eastern Bloc and the Colombian desire for peace had taken "all viability from guerrilla conflict" and converted many of the insurgents to common criminals.1 In addition, because the process for establishing the constituent assembly was already under way, the government had something that the guerrilla groups apparently wanted: the right to participate in the writing of a more democratic constitution, the lack of which had been a justification for guerrilla conflict through the years.

Further, the early days of the Gaviria government included a number of positive events for the government in relation to the guerrilla groups. On August 10, 1990, FARC leader Jacobo Arenas died of a heart attack. Arenas had been the sectarian defender of "the combination of all forms of struggle," and for that reason many believed that while he lived, it would be difficult to arrive at a peace agree-

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