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Colombia: peace talks stymied over coca



The Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- FARC, have clashed on the issue of coca and cocaine, as peace talks resume in Havana. James Blears with the details. RealAudioMP3


After a three week pause, the Colombian peace talks are again underway, but this phase has got off to a nettled start. FARC Second in Command and Chief Peace Negotiator Ivan Marquez, is championing the coca leaf. Conceding that cocaine, which is the refined product, has caused great harm, he argues that it's not exclusively a Colombian problem. He stresses the leaf has been used for centuries to stave off hunger and as a medicine to beneficial effect.


Former Vice President of Colombia Humberto de La Calle, who leads the Government peace negotiations delegation, has a radically different point of view. Before leaving Colombia for Havana, he stressed that cocaine cultivation must be rooted out of Colombian agriculture for good and forever. He insisted it's caused nothing but violence, poverty, marginalisation and misery.


The peace talks which started more than a year ago have reached agreement on rural issues and the participation of the FARC as a political party, once this negotiations phase is successfully concluded.

Drug trafficking has been a lucrative source of funding for the coffers of the FARC in its fifty year conflict with the Colombian Government. Weeding it out would, swiftly, significantly and financially affect the FARC.

For Vatican Radio....James Blears reporting.




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